Summer Spotlight: My Summer Workation in Mexico

As part of the Summer Workation Celebrating Summer Contest, we will be featuring a number of Summer Spotlights. These Summer Spotlights will feature some of the exciting things teachers have done and can do during the summer months. We hope that these posts can help teachers learn about some of the summer jobs and opportunities available to them. This spotlight features Summer Workation’s own Lisa Broom. Lisa learned about the Mexican education system while taking an intensive Spanish language course.


Cuernavaca, Mexico is located in Central Mexico, about an hour south of Mexico City. A year round temperature of eighty degrees as well as its proximity to both famous ruins and beautiful beaches made this site a very attractive choice when I weighed my options of where to spend my summer. However, Cuernavaca’s main draw for me was an intensive Spanish language course combined with a seminar for educators that explored the Mexican education system.

For four weeks, I attended a small language school, studying advanced Spanish conversation and grammar for four hours a day. In the afternoons, I also participated in a seminar conducted in Spanish on education in Mexico. Topics included the history of Mexico’s educational system, current laws and statistics, curricula, classroom practices, and comparisons of public and private schools. As part of the program, I also had the opportunity to visit an urban elementary school and observe several classes.

While I was attending classes I lived with a host family. My homestay was set up through the school at which I was studying. I lived with a single woman and her daughter, who had recently graduated high school. My family cooked my meals, showed me things to do in the city and also traveled outside of Cuernavaca with me. Living with a family helped me to acclimate to the new location and culture quickly, and gave me access to experiences I may not have been able to find on my own. During long conversations over meals where I was able to eat homemade local cuisine, I learned about the political and economic climate of the community. My host sister introduced me to restaurants, parks and markets. My family not only provided me with friendship and support, but also a critical connection to the local culture.


Studying and living in Mexico gave me the chance to pursue personal interests as well as grow professionally. I majored in International Studies in college and have always loved learning about different cultures and places. Using my summer break to live and travel outside the U.S. reenergized and refreshed me for the next school year. It also helped me to develop as a teacher. As a bilingual elementary teacher in Houston, Texas, I teach students whose families have recently immigrated to the United States from Latin America. I communicate with most of my students’ parents in Spanish. My classes and conversations with my host family gave me practice that helped me to better communicate with parents when I returned. The course I took on education in Mexico enhanced my communication and relationships with parents because I better understood the system that they knew, and could identify the aspects of my school’s education system that they needed the most help navigating. During my observations at a dual-language school, I learned new techniques to use with English language learners. Studying in Mexico gave me an opportunity to combine personal and professional interests in order to have an enjoyable and productive summer.

Leave a comment by February 27, 2010 to enter the Celebrating Summer Contest!

  • What do you think about this Summer Spotlight?
  • Have you participated in a similar experience?
  • What would your ideal summer growth opportunity be (e.g., volunteer work, study/travel abroad, internship/externship, fellowship)?

4 Responses to “Summer Spotlight: My Summer Workation in Mexico”

  1. Jessica Y. says:

    Thank you to Lisa for sharing her experience in this blog! I think this Summer Spotlight gives readers and teachers a lot of insight and knowledge about traveling/studying in another place. It’s awesome seeing how little things like staying with a host family (versus staying in a hotel room) can make such a huge difference in accommodations, comfort, the whole experience, etc. One other thing that I like about this Summer Spotlight is how Lisa wasn’t afraid of going to Mexico and spending her summer there. I know a few people who probably would not travel and end up going to the library and just borrowing some Spanish books. The initiative and dedication Lisa showed is very inspiring.
    I haven’t participated in a similar experience as I’m not a teacher, but wow, knowing that some teachers can spend a summer doing something like this, it’s fantastic.
    After hearing about this Summer Spotlight, I think my ideal summer growth opportunity would’ve switched to studying/traveling abroad! However, I love volunteering and helping out my local community, so I’m going to stick with volunteer work.

  2. mbcollins says:

    I’ve spent a summer abroad before. Like Lisa, I would say it was a great experience. Going to another country showed me how students are educated in other cultures. I was able to take back certain best practices such as different conceptions of classroom space and alternative ways to think about group work. I also found that many of my students were fascinated by my international travel.

    Overall, if teachers have the chance I would definitely recommend taking a summer to grow abroad. Like Lisa, I would say international travel gives teachers a chance to grow both personally and professionally.

  3. Karla Duff says:

    How great it would be to spend a summer in the country you are instructing your own classroom students. One of my preps is teaching about SE Asia. I have not had a chance to visit these areas…YET. Presently, we are using ePal to visit schools in Japan. Skype is our next step. Visiting there would make it one step closer to our classroom door!

  4. Molly says:

    I too am a teacher who studied Spanish in Cuernavaca, it has especially helped me in communicating with my parents who do not speak much English. This is becoming more and more common at our school. That is, the children know English, but not the parents. My Spanish school had afternoon workshop sessions that specifically helped with these communications plus after living with a hosting family I better understand the cultural differences their family adheres to. I’m now organizing a teen student group to Instituto Chac-Mool in Cuernavaca this coming summer. So far the idea is being warmly received by the students and we are waiting for parental confirmations and financial backing.

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