STUDY ABROAD: WHY CHOOSE MEXICO? ITS PREEMINENCE & ITS IMPEDIMENTS

This post has been revised to reflect the improved State Department advisory for Cuernavaca, Morelos, January 2016.

This is an expanded and illustrated version of a paper delivered August 6, 2015, at Universidad Internacional in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, at the 2nd International Congress, Latin America: Tradition & Globalization.

  Click on the photos to enlarge them.

For North American students seeking a Spanish-language destination for study abroad, Mexico has far and away the most to offer. Its proximity to the U.S., relatively inexpensive airfare, low cost of living, family-oriented society, superb educational infrastructure, and its economic integration with its northern neighbors are just some of its advantages. Add its rich cultural, linguistic, and archeological resources and Mexico offers unparalleled opportunities for students. The most significant impediment to recruiting students to study in Mexico is the misperception  that the whole country is under siege and the widespread ignorance of how much of the country is safe for visitors.

 Let’s face it, study abroad can be very expensive. Students have to pay tuition, room and board, and transportation, on top of giving up the part-time jobs that many depend upon. Flying from North American airports to most destinations in Mexico is half the price or less than flying to Europe. Flights to many Central and South American destinations are also much more expensive than to Mexico.

Study-abroad program costs reflect the price the home college pays for instruction abroad, another area where Mexico offers significant savings. Tuition at most Mexican institutes of higher education is a fraction of that on many U.S. campuses.

Family stays for students in Mexico are another bargain compared to costs of North American dormitories or off-campus housing, especially considering that family stays include meals. Prices vary with the city and the quality of the home, but most family stays cost in the neighborhood of 30 dollars a night with three meals. Another advantage of the home stay is that Mexicans embody the “family values” U.S. politicians like to extoll. Visiting students are really part of an extended family, invited to social gatherings like birthday parties, quinciañeras, and weddings. Families still sit down together to eat at the dining room table, not from trays in front of the television set. In fact, the family-stay is one of the most memorable and consequential components of a student’s cultural immersion.

The cost of living in Mexico has been historically much lower than in the U.S. and Canada, and that was before the 22 percent rise in the value of the dollar against the peso this year alone. Public buses in Mexico cost about a third of those in the U.S. A taxi ride across a city like Cuernavaca in dollar terms costs about $2.25. So if you remember how reasonable prices were in 2014, subtract another 22 percent now.

Mexican institutions of higher education vary in size and prestige, from small language schools with low enrollments to large state universities or private schools like the Tec de Monterrey with branches in every state. Virtually every state capital or large city boasts a multitude of excellent class-room opportunities. The quality of the spoken Spanish taught here is superior to that in many countries where accents are more pronounced.

Once in Mexico, the visiting student will find little to cause culture shock, at least in urban areas.  In all of the larger communities in the Republic, one finds WalMart, Costco, Sam’s Club, Office Depot, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, and other familiar commercial outlets. In most cities there are far more pizzerias than churches. Night life is probably superior to that where most of the students come from. But that does not mean they aren’t immersed in a truly Mexican culture. Little English is spoken in the streets and the Spanish-speaking family is the center of their social ambience. Students are enveloped in an abundance of cultural experiences quite different than those at home.

Weighing student job opportunities after graduation, one cannot underestimate the importance of the economic integration promoted by the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Mexico is the third largest trading partner of the U.S. after Canada and China and the second largest recipient of U.S. exports. That trade is increasing in volume as well as percentage. Total bilateral trade in 2014 exceeded 534 billion dollars. Mexico-Canada bilateral trade exceeds 20 billion dollars a year and is growing faster than its trade with every other country. Having a study-abroad experience in Mexico on one’s résumé certainly can be an estimable asset in some employment sectors.  (M. Angeles Villarreal, U.S.-Mexico Economic Relations: Trends, Issues, & Implications, Congressional Research Service, April 20, 2015)

Study abroad in Mexico also make eminent sense given  the immense Mexican population in the U.S. and its impace on the economy, politics, and criminal justice. According to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center, over 33 million U.S. residents claim Mexican ancestry. Of those, 11.4 million are immigrants born in Mexico and another 22.3 million were born in the U.S. but “self-identified as Hispanics of Mexican origin.” Mexicans constitute 11 percent of total U.S. population and 64 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population. Study-abroad returnees from Mexico to many areas of the U.S., especially California and the Southwest, can find abundant opportunities to continue their cultural bonding with Mexicans.  (Ana González-Barrera & Mark Hugo López, A Demographic Portrait of Mexican-Origin Hispanics in the United States, Pew Research Center, May 1, 2013).

No matter the academic focus of North American study abroad programs, their directors are eager for cultural enrichment for their students outside the classroom. It would be hard to find any place in the Americas superior to Mexico in that regard. Every large city has sensational museums and almost all are near important archaeological sites. Even smaller villages often boast  museums unique to their history, or an ancient convent or hacienda. There are hundreds of archaeological sites in the Republic and more in the State of Yucatan alone than in all of Peru. There are no significant pre-Columbian sites in Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, or Chile, for example.

Many study-abroad sites are near enough for daytrip or weekend visits to Mexico City,  one of the premier cultural capitals of the world. There are a dozen museums within walking distance  in the historic center alone, and dozens of others not counting the Museum of Anthropology, regarded as one of the top ten in the world. Compare that to San José Costa Rica or Santiago Chile, for example, where one can visit all the major museums in a half day.

Every state and many cities have folkloric dance groups in addition to the National Ballet Folklorico at Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Latin dances like salsa are a big hit at numerous clubs in urban areas where dance classes are easy to find. No one has to explain the popularity of Mexican food, and what better place to eat it than where it originated. Many schools offer cooking classes.

Among the Mexican cities that host study-abroad programs, many stand out for their cultural treasures: Mérida, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Puebla, Querétaro, Cuernavaca. Since we are in Cuernavaca, it behooves us to boast a bit about its wealth of resources for study abroad. Apart from the fact that first class buses depart every ten minutes for the 90-minute ride to Mexico City, there is more than enough here to enrich students culturally.

Cuernavaca boasts the Cortés Palace housing a museum of Mexican history from pre-conquest times to the 20th century, including some of Diego Rivera’s best murals. The ex-Hacienda de Cortés was the conquistador’s  private sugar estate. Jardín Borda boasts artifacts of the empire of Maximilian and Carlota who vacationed there in the 1860s. The cathedral and convent were among the first in the Americas. Cortés donated money for the construction of  the convent which began in 1525 and for the Franciscan church of the Assumption in 1529, (not to become a cathedral until the 1890s). In the 1960s it became one of the centers for liberation theology in the Americas. Two other churches, San Jerónimo and Tlaltenango are among the oldest in the Americas. The Museo de Arte Indígena Contemporáneo houses a spectacular collection of the finest contemporary folk art by native artisans, and the Robert Brady Museum has a superb eclectic private collection not to be missed. Smaller venues include the city museum, the ethno-botanical museum, and a planned museum of religious art.

Villages within a short drive of Cuernavaca hold other treasures easily accessible to students including frequent bus service to the pueblos mágicos, Tepoztlán, Tlayacapán, and Taxco. Numerous colonial era haciendas, some now resort hotels, are open to day-trippers. The most attractive ones close to Cuernavaca are Hacienda Cocoyoc and Hacienda Vista Hermosa.  Just 20 minutes from the southern entrance to the autopista is the largest flower garden in the world. In addition to its spectacular floral displays, the 250-acre Jardines de México offers frequent classes on botanical subjects and hosts Mexico’s first school for professional gardeners. (www.jardinesdemexico.com)

The state’s pre-Columbian heritage can be admired at magnificent archaeological sites like Xochicalco, Malinalco, and Chalcatzingo. Since its conquest from the Tlahuica Indians by Hernán Cortés in 1521,  Morelos has played a major role in Mexican history especially in the war of Independence from Spain, the War of the Reform, and the Mexican Revolution, famous for the leadership of Emiliano Zapata. One can follow his heroic footsteps on “La Ruta de Zapata” (http://www.morelostravel.com/ruta_zapata). During the colonial period, numerous religious orders constructed splendid convents that are now world-heritage sites that visitors can enjoy by following “La Ruta de los Conventos” (http://morelostravel.com/ruta_conventos).

 For recreation, Cuernavaca has it all: squash, tennis, basketball, jogging and track venues, a reasonably priced gym in virtually every neighborhood, and several free public swimming pools. The state is home to more than 35 aquatic parks and bathing resorts (balnearios) described online at http://infomorelos.com/turismo/balnearios.html. Nearby Lake Tequesquitengo offers quality-vacationing and sporting activities including water skiing, wakeboarding, and one of the first cable-skiing parks in Mexico. For a weekend, the beaches of Acapulco are just a three-hour drive away. Semester programs usually have a week-long break when students can travel across the country on excellent, inexpensive public transportation.

(Most of the material above is explored in greater detail in an earlier blog post, Tourist Attractions in the State of Morelos, Mexico, Jan. 19, 2014, https://jimhornnews.com/2014/01/19/tourist-attractions-in-the-state-of-morelos-mexico/)

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Sites within a short drive from Cuernavaca are one of the illustrations in the author’s guidebook, Cuernavaca: a Guide for Students and Tourists.

Often overlooked in evaluating a study-abroad site is the health and medical infrastructure. It is no exaggeration to say that Cuernavaca has outstanding medical facilities providing services at very affordable prices. A student with a medical emergency can see a physician at Cruz Roja (Red Cross) with a brief wait for less than five dollars. I explore that topic in detail in a previous blog post, “You Can Afford to Get Sick Here: Medical Care in Cuernavaca.” https://jimhornnews.com/2013/04/16/you-can-afford-to-get-sick-here/

 Given all the superior resources described above, it should be glaringly obvious that Mexico is the preeminent country for study-abroad programs, and Cuernavaca arguably one of its best destinations. So why have enrollments declined so drastically nationally and locally?

(This subject has been explored in more depth in my blog post CUERNAVACA’S SPANISH-LANGUAGE SCHOOLS RESILIENT DESPITE SETBACKS, May 12, 2013).https://jimhornnews.com/2013/05/24/cuernavacas-spanish-language-schools-resilient/

The first of three painful setbacks came with the collapse of the U.S. economy in 2008, bringing austerity to many businesses, impacting international travel in general, and making study-abroad financially more difficult. Right on the heels of the economic downturn came the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009 when enrollments in the schools fell dramatically, although Cuernavaca had a low incidence of the disease.

 The third and most critical blow was the alarmist international publicity from President Felipe Calderón’s war on the drug cartels. Calderón’s sexenio or six year term, 2006-2012, saw an estimated 50 thousand criminal-related deaths as the cartels responded murderously to the assault  on their livelihood.

The current administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto has placed a high priority on security with some significant results. Unfortunately some recent outrageous incidents have overshadowed news of progress in the U.S. press. Just released figures show that Mexico’s homicide rate fell from 18 per 100 thousand inhabitants in 2013 to 16 per 100 thousand in 2014. Regional variations of the national figure show the State of Morelos with a slightly higher figure of 23 per 100 thousand and the State of Yucatan only 2 per 100 thousand.  (INEGI Boletín de Prensa, July 20, 2015)

Mexico’s homicide rate, while concentrated in a handful of dangerous states, is still much better than that of Puerto Rico (26), Bahamas (30), Belize (45), Jamaica (39), St. Kitts & Nevis (34). Forget about Venezuela at 54 and Honduras at 82. Most Mexican cities have homicide rates lower than comparably-sized cities north of the border. New Orleans is one of the more popular tourist destinations in the U.S. despite having one of the highest murder rates. (“Drug Violence in Mexico,” Trans-Border Institute, University of San Diego, March 2012, and various statistical reports in web searches for “homicide rates in the Americas”).

There were almost 26 million U.S. visitors to Mexico in 2014 (Mexico News Daily, July 31, 2015). According to the U.S. State Department the number of U.S. citizens reported as murdered in Mexico was 81 in all of 2013 and 100 in 2014. (May 2015) Admittedly some of those victims were themselves engaged in criminal activity, but that is not detailed in the report.  Most tourist areas of Mexico have reported very few or no U.S.-citizen homicide victims. One could argue that popular U.S. tourist destinations like New Orleans, Miami, and Orlando are far more dangerous than many Mexican cities.

Ironically the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory may have been the biggest obstacle to improving numbers of study-abroad students in Mexico. This is particularly so for Morelos which, given its touristic and academic importance, deserves far more favourable analysis than it gets. While prefacing its May 2015 annual report with a general warning about violence in Mexico, the State Department was quite fair at the beginning:

 Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes.

 Mexico does get a break in that, unlike for most countries, the analysis is broken down state by state. Only four of 31 Mexican states are included in the document’s warning to “defer non-essential travel” and Morelos is not one of them. But the brief section  on Morelos is ambiguous and perplexing.

 Exercise caution in the state of Morelos due to the unpredictable nature of organized crime violence. You should also defer non-essential travel on any roads between Huitzilac in the northwest corner of the state and Santa Marta in the state of Mexico, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas. Numerous incidents of organized crime-related violence have also occurred in the city of Cuernavaca.

The Lagunas de Zempoala and Huitzilac are off the beaten path and can easily be avoided at any rate. But the last sentence has caused the most consternation among tourist and security officials in Cuernavaca.

Numerous incidents of organized crime-related violence have also occurred in the city of Cuernavaca.

Now just what does that mean? Numerous incidents of organized crime-related violence have also occurred in many large U.S. cities. Nor is it clear how many narco-victims were murdered in more isolated areas and dumped in Cuernavaca for the publicity impact. Most of the homicides in Morelos are drug lords killing other drug lords, although domestic violence is also commonplace. It is clear that students and other foreign tourists have not been the targets nor the victims of the violence. Unfortunately, the report did not mention that no U.S. students have been killed here.

The city’s secretary of tourism told me that, according to the local police, in all of 2014 there was not a single reported act of violence against a foreign student or tourist. However, when I floated that statement in a social network of the local expat community, I did get a handful of responses claiming home break-ins and muggings but the victims admitted not reporting them. Alas unreported crimes prevent a clear picture of the actual situation. Administrators in the many Spanish-language schools here deny that their students have been victims of violence.

Governor Graco Ramírez met with U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne December 7 2012 to request a rewording of the advisory for his state, without success. I have been unable to ascertain the reasoning. (Ambassador Wayne left Mexico in July 2015). Some locals believe there is a vendetta against the state because of an incident in the remote area north of  Huitzilac, Morelos, July 24, 2012. Two CIA agents and a Mexican navy captain, traveling unarmed and unescorted in an armored SUV, were attacked by federal police, most likely corrupt. After a harrowing vehicle chase, the agents were lucky to escape with their lives.

Ironically, the State Department appears to be working at cross purposes with the Obama administration’s “100,000 Strong in the Americas Initative,” promoted by the very same State Department (http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rt/100k). The preface to the Initiative spells out the many advantages to study abroad and explains the goal to achieve 100,000 students moving in both directions in the Americas by 2020. That goal would almost double current levels of exchange, and it will be hard to reach without clearer information on which locations in the Americas are safe for students. I suspect some Latin American students might be worried by the excesses of the gun culture in the U.S. Press reports reaching Mexico can also lead to misperceptions. A Mexican friend told me he would be afraid to travel in the U.S., adding, “Someone might shoot me in a movie theater.”

The dilemma for study abroad is that many U.S. college administrators, most of whom know little or nothing about Mexico, use the State Department reports as the primary consideration in determining where their students may study. Often programs are cancelled in any country that appears in a travel advisory. A survey of college policies by Butler University found that 25 percent have a blanket prohibition on study in Mexico and 70 percent permit study abroad in Mexico only in areas not mentioned in the Travel Advisory, though exceptions can be granted by petitions. (Elizabeth Redden, “Mexico’s Moment,” Inside Higher Education, Feb. 27, 2015

Some universities have recognized that security concerns were exaggerated and changed their policies. In March 2013 the California State University system lifted its 2007 ban on study-abroad programs in Mexico.

It is understandable why administrators tend to be rather constipated on this issue. They fret over the safety of their students and the concerns of parents, and they are liable to law suits in a litigious society like the U.S. So it is not surprising that they adopt the age old practice known idiomatically as  “covering one’s ass.” The State Department’s travel advisories provide them the justification to do that. While many high schools also offer short-term programs in Mexico, many others have been deterred by liability insurance issues  related to the travel advisory.

Fortunately, the revised report for January 2016 eliminated the prejudicical last sentence in the  May 2015 report. The current statement is much more balanced.

Morelos: Cuernavaca is a major city/travel destination in Morelos – Exercise caution in the state of Morelos. Defer non-essential travel on any roads between Huitzilac in the northwest corner of the state and Santa Marta, Estado de Mexico, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas.Please see above for general conditions for travel in Mexico. 

To me this advisory is very mild and I see absolutely no reason why any college administrator would use it to deny student participation in Cuernavaca.

Of course, one needs to look beyond the low incidence of U.S. citizen homicide rates abroad and appraise the incidence of petty crimes that are more frequent. But if one looks at pick-pocketing for example, there is an epidemic of that in France, Spain, and Italy, three of the four largest venues for U.S study-abroad programs. Just this year, Parisian authorities had to briefly close the Louvre museum and the Eiffel Tower because of out-of-control gangs of thieves preying on tourists. Madrid and Barcelona are notorious for problems of petty theft. Mexico is a paradise by comparison. Due to its proximity to the U.S., criminal activity in Mexico receives far more press attention than that in other countries.

Ironically, some Mexico-based programs have since moved to San José, Costa Rica where crime is increasing rather than decreasing. The homicide rate in Costa Rica soared by 14.6 percent last year, albeit still at a relatively low 9.5 per 100 thousand. According to the U.S. Embassy there, U.S. citizens are not often victims of the most violent crimes, but petty theft, mugging, passport theft, and various scams pose a significant threat to visitors. Crime is especially prevalent on public transportation. Due to the crime wave in San José, U.S. government employees are not permitted to stay in hotels in the city center. Anywhere from 800 to 1000 passports have been stolen yearly from U.S. citizens. (That figure is significantly higher for Madrid alone and passport theft in Europe is astronomical). One report advised excursion buses to have an armed guard to prevent theft. In one case all the valuables aboard a tour bus were stolen while tourists were rafting.  (U.S. State Department, Costa Rica 2015 Crime and Safety Report. https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=17191; U.S. Embassy, San José Costa Rica, “The Threat from Crime.” http://costarica.usembassy.gov/uscitizen/the-threat-from-crime2.html)

Does that mean that one should “defer non-essential travel” to Costa Rica? Of course not. Costa Rica is an outstanding site for study abroad especially in subjects like botany and ecology, and it hosts excellent internship programs in those fields as well as in the health professions. But just like for Mexico, safety precautions are in order depending on the particular locality.

The security situation in Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala is even worse, and Santiago Chile had 47 earthquakes in the last year. But the point here is not to compare levels of public safety in one country to another. Students must take responsibility for their safety no matter where they are, and the State Department has excellent advice on precautions to take when traveling abroad.

But Mexico has been impacted more than many other countries due to often exaggerated perceptions of violence. Consequently, state and local governments in Mexico have made security improvements the top priority in their administrations. Here in Morelos for example, Governor Graco Ramírez has put the campaign against violence and delinquency at the top of his agenda. The governor has been one of the leaders in promoting the Mando Único or Unified Command for all agencies of state security. The goal is a unified structure coordinating all   Federal, State, and Ministerial Police,  Investigative and Criminal Police, the 24th military zone, the prosecutor general of the Republic, Civilian Protection (fire and rescue), and medical emergencies. Any citizen calling 066 seeking assistance or making a complaint is immediately directed to the proper agency. As of this year, all 33 municipalities in the state have integrated their operations under a single command.

In his emphasis on the Unified Command, Governor Ramírez is implementing a goal of President Enrique Peña Nieto whose security priority is Mando Único nationwide, consolidating 32 state police agencies and hundreds of municipal police forces into a single entity. The governor thus provides significant advocacy for the presidential initiative that has been endorsed also by Mexico City Regent Miguel Ángel Mancera and Nuevo León Governor Rodrigo Medina, all three of whom appeared before the Mexican Senate this year.

Central to the success of the Mando Único is the purging of local police forces by reviewing performance, drug testing, exams of confidence,  and transparency in personal wealth.  Thanks to the work of state and municipal authorities, hundreds of police  have been decommissioned and replaced by more professionally trained recruits to be part of the unified command. Professionalization programs have also included workshops on human rights, an area of frequent press scrutiny. Governor Ramírez also announced in early February the construction of a Judicial City in Xochitepec in 2015 to enhance the program of judicial reform indispensable to combatting delinquency.

The most significant investment has been the innovative system of video-vigilance in the city and state. In November 2014 Morelos launched its state-of-the-art operation called C5, the Center of Coordination, Command, Control, Communication, and Computing. The system deploys over 400 video cameras at strategic locations in 26 municipalities of the state covering 93 percent of the population. The number of cameras deployed will eventually reach 1200. A huge investment from state and federal funding and bank loans has financed the operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The operation integrates the actions of the Mexican army, federal and state police agencies, Mando Único, and related agencies to monitor, suppress, and prevent criminal activity. The cameras can monitor both vehicular and pedestrian activity.

Inauguration C5

In 2014, the State of Morelos launched C5, a sophisticated high-tech system of video-vigilance for crime prevention.

The State’s C5 is also working with fiber-optic technology to better coordinate with its counterpart C3 in the city of Cuernavaca, launched in December 2014 by Mayor Jorge Morales Barud. The Secretariat of Citizen Security operates the Center for Computing, Communication, and Command that has installed cameras in 27 locations on principal streets of the city and coordinates various security agencies in the capital. Plans are to add 50 more cameras during 2015.

These advances have been under the radar and little reported outside Morelos, but Reforma noted (Feb. 8, 2015) that the budget for security has tripled under Governor Ramírez and cited his recent informe crediting the restructuring under Mando Único for a drop in the incidence of high-impact crime, especially homicide, kidnapping, and extortion. CNN Mexico online reported (Jan.26, 2015) that 65 percent of the homicides in Mexico in 2014 occurred in just ten states, and Morelos was not among them. Cuernavaca city authorities also claim significant declines in reported delinquency. Since the improvements were made so recently, we can’t expect to see them reflected in crime statistics immediately.

Given the significant progress in security in the state and its capital, and a perception among local residents that crime is on the wane, residents and authorities were shocked by a non-governmental report claiming Cuernavaca is the most violent city in Mexico. The report published online February 9, 2015 by the Citizens Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, was entitled “Cuernavaca Tops the List of Mexico’s Most Violent Cities.” The conclusions were repeated in English in the Latin American Herald Tribune February 21, 2015. Little is known of this NGO or its methodology in publishing a report so at odds with all other sources, including the official government figures published by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), Boletín de Prensa, July 20, 2015. Many suspect political motives behind the NGO report. But if Cuernavaca is the most violent city in Mexico, you can be sure the State Department would warn its citizens to “defer non-essential  travel”  there, but it does not.

Given the sources that I have researched laboriously as well as daily reading of state, local, and and national newspapers as a resident of Cuernavaca,  I  conclude that substantial areas of Mexico and particularly Cuernavaca are safe for North American study-abroad students.

(Most of the material above has been reprinted from a previous blog post, https://jimhornnews.com/2015/02/21/security-tops-the-agenda-in-morelos/)

In sum, the main obstacle to study abroad in Mexico is the misperception that the whole country is under siege, exaggerated by press reports in the U.S. that fail to note how much of the country is safe. Obviously Mexico’s security would be far better if there were not 35 million American drug users. But the Mexican government is at fault too for its long-term failure to control the corruption and criminal activity that gets reported. The State Department has a duty to protect its citizens and it is not in the business of promoting tourism.  But neither should it be the obstacle it has become by not presenting a clearer picture of student safety. It must take care not to cause collateral damage by raising undue fears. The State Department and academic administrators have an unarguable obligation to evaluate security concerns, but in doing so they should also recognize and acknowledge Mexico’s preeminence for study-abroad in the America

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The author is Associate Professor of History Emeritus at the College at Brockport, State University of New York, and former coordinator of the SUNY study-abroad program in Cuernavaca. As President of Educational Travel Service (now retired) he organized and led over one hundred tour groups to Mexico, including 80 Spanish-study programs in Cuernavaca for Road Scholar (Elderhostel). You can follow him on his blog, www.jimhornnews.com. To receive automatic notice of new posts, on the band at the top of the page, click on “Follow” (or “Seguir” if you are configured in Spanish. then enter your e-mail address.

 RESOURCES:

James J. Horn, Cuernavaca, A Guide For Students & Tourists, e-book with Amzaon.com, details  at https://jimhornnews.com/guide/.

James J. Horn, “You Can Afford to Get Sick Here: Medical Care in Cuernavaca.” https://jimhornnews.com/2013/04/16/you-can-afford-to-get-sick-here/

James J. Horn, “Cuernavaca’s Spanish-Language Schools Resilient Despite Setbacks.” https://jimhornnews.com/2013/05/24/cuernavacas-spanish-language-schools-resilient/.

Elizabeth Redden, “Mexico’s Moment,” Inside Higher Education, Feb. 27, 2015.)https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/02/27/initiatives-seek-increase-academic-collaboration-between-us-and-mexico.

Angeles Villarreal, U.S.-Mexico Economic Relations: Trends, Issues, & Implications, Congressional Research Service, April 20, 2015     https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL32934.pdf

Library of Parliament, Canadian Trade and Investment Activity:Canada-Mexico, July 22, 2010. http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/LOP/ResearchPublications/2010-50-e.pdf.

Ana González-Barrera & Mark Hugo López, A Demographic Portrait of Mexican-Origin Hispanics in the United States, Pew Research Center,May1,2013. http://www.pewhispanic.org/2013/05/01/a-demographic-portrait-of-mexican-origin-hispanics-in-the-united-states/

U.S. Department of State, Mexico Travel Warning, May 5, 2015. http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/mexico-travel-warning.html

U.S. Department of State, 100,000 Strong in the Americas,                               http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rt/100k/

U.S. Embassy, San José Costa Rica, “The Threat from Crime.” http://costarica.usembassy.gov/uscitizen/the-threat-from-crime2.html

U.S. Department of State, Costa Rica 2015 Crime and Safety Report. https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=17191

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For reading through all of this, you deserve a glass of Mexico’s national beverage. Drinking it is guaranteed to improve your Spanish.

 

 

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10 thoughts on “STUDY ABROAD: WHY CHOOSE MEXICO? ITS PREEMINENCE & ITS IMPEDIMENTS

  1. Mexico in general, and Cuernavaca in particular, are wonderful places for study abroad. We know that… we just need to get the word out to a wider audience! Susan ****************************** Susan Ansara 4471 Superstition Drive Las Cruces, NM 88011 Phone: 575-649-8786 e-mail: ansara@me.com *******************************

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  2. This was a great informative article based on your research providing facts and stats which is so badly needed in our US media outlets. Now the question is how do we get this out? May I have your permission to repost this on social media like facebook? Excellent work Jim !
    Cristina Chapman
    Las Villas de Bellavista
    http://www.cuernavaca-rental.com

    • Thanks Cristina. Of course you can post it on facebook. It’s on my FB page already. I think anything one puts online without a blanket prohibition can be copied and shared.

      2015-08-11 15:00 GMT-05:00 Jim Horn News :

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  3. Jim, I love this article. I’m going to send it to all my contacts. People constantly ask me about why I like to go to Mexico, since they DO all think it’s under siege. They have no idea how fantastically wonderful it is and I have trouble getting all that across. Thank you SO SO much!!! Mariana

    Mariana Kramer

    facebook/MarianaKramerArtwork marianakramer.com

    Little Tree Art Studios 2834 Franklin Street Avondale Estates, GA 30002 678-713-9757

    mexicomariana@blogspot.com

    “We are far more likely to be harmed by our fellow man than our fellow animals, yet we call animals wild and dangerous and we call man advanced and civilized.”

    • Thanks so much Mariana. It is so encouraging when someone gushes about one’s work. I hope the article can convince more people to visit our great city, state, and country.

      • So do I. I’m so tired of people asking me aren’t I afraid when I’m living in Mexico? No, or I wouldn’t be there. This kind of article shows another side of Mexican life – the positive side.

  4. Pingback: STUDY ABROAD: WHY CHOOSE MEXICO? ITS PREEMINENCE & ITS IMPEDIMENTS | Spanish School´s Blog

  5. Pingback: DAMAGED BUT UNDAUNTED,  MORELOS BECKONS TOURISTS, October 3, 2017­­­ | Jim Horn News

  6. Pingback: Damaged but undaunted, Morelos beckons tourists

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