North Carolina State University Study Abroad Comes to Oaxaca, Mexico

For the past 10 days, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC (and me!) was host to 11 students and Professor Ricardo Hernandez. They came to study sustainability in developing countries. Dr. Hernandez is a leading international researcher in agricultural greenhouse design in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at NC State University.

With Professor Hernandez at Monte Alban

This is the second time I have worked with him to host a group of visiting students. We developed the program together and I sourced the contacts to meet his needs and made all the arrangements.

A hot chocolate break in the Teotitlan del Valle market, made from scratch
Restored wall, Zapotec temple, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca

We were based in Oaxaca City for the first five days of the trip and then flew to the coast of Oaxaca, staying in Puerto Escondido to investigate commercial and small scale farming techniques, hybridization, plant cultivation, natural dyeing and weaving. Temperatures on Oaxaca’s coast this time of year are in the stratosphere. The heat index on some days reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit!

Grace tries her hand at weaving with Omar’s help. Alysia waits her turn.
At Taller Fe y Lola, the NC State University group around the indigo dye pot

Students couldn’t help but learn about the culture of Zapotec and Mixtec people along the way as they studied the milpa planting system, visited mango and peanut farms, and explored the Hierve El Agua canal systems built by Zapotecs centuries before the Spanish arrived.

The NC State Wolfpack Jump, Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden #rocaxaca
Fresh red snapper and shrimp tacos, Puerto Escondido

They ate mole, chapulines, and handmade tortillas. They visited a mezcal palenque and learned about agave cultivars. They dug deep into Oaxaca history with a climb up to Monte Alban, a walk into the depths of Benito Juarez market, and a tour of the Ethnobotanical Gardens.

#packabroad #rocaxaca at Hierve el Agua
Calcium deposits, Hierve el Agua

For one overnight, they experienced traditional village life in Teotitlan del Valle where they met rug weavers, cooks, and market vendors. They compared the daily village market and supermarket shopping at home. They saw the newly restored Zapotec archeological site that serves as the church’s foundation.

Tasting wild and cultivated mezcal at Gracias a Dios, Santiago Matatlan

Some students told me their parents were afraid to let them go to Mexico. Nine were undergraduates and two were master’s level students. All said this was the experience of a lifetime!

Lunch with Reyna Mendoza finishes with nopal fruit sorbet called tuna

Over the next few posts, I’ll be featuring select stories and photos of the NC State University Study Abroad Program journey through Oaxaca. If you are an Instagram user, check out the group posts at #rocaxaca

Puerto Escondido baby Ridley sea turtle release is trip highlight

We can customize study abroad programs for university faculty and students on a range of topics, including agriculture, sustainable development, art, archeology, history, textiles and cuisine. Contact me to explore options. norma.schafer@icloud.com

Climbing rocks in search of endangered murex snails used for purple dye
Fishing boats and NC State group, looking at daily catch
Luis Adan weaves with murex snail dyed cotton, Tututepec Mixe, Oaxaca

2 responses to “North Carolina State University Study Abroad Comes to Oaxaca, Mexico

  1. How lovely! Looks like everyone benefited & enjoyed themselves. Wonderful opportunity. And great photos as usual!

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