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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Two weeks in Mexico

I was priviledged to learn Spanish for two weeks at Español Universal in Guanajuato, Mexico. The school is small but extremely well-staffed. My teacher revealed that he was a retired mining engineer who, after taking classes in France at a similar school to Español Universal, decided to retire and become a Spanish teacher.

Guanajuato has a rich and vibrant lifestyle. The people spend much of their time outside enjoying the temperate weather and beautiful skies. A large amount of tourist traffic makes the city easy to navigate. Despite the obvious international presence, the city continues to preserve the traditions of the original population.

The Christmas season allows glimpses of several traditions. Las Posadas (inns in Spanish) falls on the nine days before Christmas. Neighbors gather to walk down their streets, stopping at designated houses while carrying a nativity scene. The pedestrians represent Joseph and Mary looking for an inn on the night of Jesus' birth. The neighbors sing an ancient song of the plight of the mother and father. The inhabitants of the house echo the long ago replies of the inn keepers throughout Jerusalem, informing Mary and Joseph that the inn is full and that the couple must search for another place. The procession ends at the home of the person who accepts the "couple." A large party follows with piñatas for the children and sweets for all.

The celebration of Christmas is publicly acclaimed with nativity scenes in the parks and plazas. I appreciate most that the true reason for the Christmas celebration, the birth of Jesus Christ, is the highlight of the season in Mexico.

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