Penn State Berks students traveled to Mexico City during Spring Break from March 5 to March 12, but it wasn’t for fun in the sun. The trip was embedded in the Modern Latin American History honors course in which the students were enrolled.
Though the course focuses broadly on Latin America, it includes a Mexico-focused component that prepared students to understand important archeological, anthropological, cultural, and historical sites in one of the Western Hemisphere's largest cities. Students explored major sites like the pre-Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan, remains of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, the National Anthropology Museum, the Museum of the Mexican Revolution, and lesser-known sites like artist Frida Kahlo's Blue House, where she lived and painted, as well as the exile house of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky.
Eleven students participated in the excursion including Luz Adler, Drew Beam, Shantelle Duarte, Nic Fay, Liz Heffner, Angelica Lemus Hernandez, Mus'ab Khan, Zoe Petrides, Avery Rivera, Ella Rivera, and Olivia Sullivan. They were accompanied by Kirwin Shaffer, professor of Latin American studies, and Zohra Melaouah-Shaffer, assistant teaching professor and program chair for the global studies degree.
"The trip taught me so much about Latin America especially the Anthropology Museum,” commented Elizabeth “Ella” Rivera, a junior global studies major from Morgantown. “That was my favorite sight to see because it displayed all the different avenues of history so well and seeing the artifacts was a very cool experience."
Avery Rivera, a sophomore global studies major from Reading, Pennsylvania, added, “The trip was an absolute blast. My favorite part was the archeological site of Teotihuacan with the Sun and Moon Pyramid. Seeing massive structures from an unknown civilization was awe-inspiring and was a highlight of the trip.”
Students also had the opportunity to enjoy Mexican cuisine, watch the large International Women's Day March, and visit the ‘cathedral’ of Mexican wrestling to watch ‘lucha libre.’
Kirwin Shaffer explained, “Much of what students saw and discussed will prepare them for the last half of the course with a focus on modern Mexican issues like drug trafficking and femicide.”
About the Global Studies program
Penn State Berks offers the only global studies degree in the Penn State system. While emphasizing a traditional liberal arts education in literature, politics, history and foreign language study, the baccalaureate degree in global studies also promotes intercultural understanding and sensitivity to diversity — both of which are critical to navigating the 21st-century global environment. All Penn State Berks global studies majors are required to study abroad as part of their degree requirements, providing them with the unique opportunity to add real-world experience to classroom preparation.