Jimena Lucia Ramazzini ‘26 shares her summer in Querétaro, Mexico

As part of the Cross Cultural Leadership Program offered through the Institute for Latino Studies, four Notre Dame undergraduates interned for five weeks this past summer at community organizations in Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico.

Three of us — Grecia Alcantar ‘26, Xochitl Obispo ‘25, and myself — interned at the Red Cross in Querétaro. The fourth, Jasmine Peña Ramirez ‘25, spent the summer working at a girls and women shelter called Needed: Instituto de Ayuda Humanitaria.

In addition to our hands-on experience, the four of us had the opportunity to expand our knowledge by taking courses at the Querétaro campus of the prestigious university El Tecnológico de Monterrey Querétaro. We immersed ourselves in Mexican culture by living on campus, sharing spaces with current Tec students, and visiting different cities surrounding Santiago de Querétaro.

CCLP Querétaro students exploring the city.
CCLP Querétaro students exploring Mexico's Castillo de Chapultepec. (From left to right) Non-CCLP study abroad student Aislin Lyman, Jimena Ramazzini, Grecia Alcantar, Xochitl Obispo, and Jasmine Peña Ramirez.

Taking courses at El Tecnológico de Monterrey allowed us to experience a day-in-the-life of a Tec student and compare it to our experiences as Notre Dame students. We also had the opportunity to meet other international students from Texas, London, Japan, Germany, and Italy.

The four of us got a glimpse of adulthood as we had to budget for groceries, transportation, and personal expenses for the duration of our stay. We took advantage of all the beauty, nature, history, culture, and cuisine that Santiago de Querétaro had to offer.

Our main cultural expedition was to el Castillo de Chapultepec in Mexico City, known as the Chapultepec Castle in English. It was formerly the residence of the Mexican president but now houses the National Museum of History. We also went to the archaeological complex known as Teotihucán, which includes the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun. The views from the summit of the latter are world-famous. At Teotihucán, we learned about the tribes that predated the Aztecs in central Mexico.

Grecia Alcantar,  a Political Science and Latino Studies major, shared the following: “Walking the same streets that my parents walked as teenagers was a full-circle moment for me that reminded me of how fortunate I am to be the daughter of immigrants at some of the best institutions in the world — the University of Notre Dame and El Tecnológico de Monterrey.”

CCLP Querétaro students exploring Mexico.
Enjoying the view from the Castillo de Chapultepec. (From left to right) Jimena Ramazzini, Xochitl Obispo, Grecia Alcantar, Non-CCLP study abroad student Aislin Lyman, Jasmine Peña Ramirez, non-CCLP study abroad student Andrew Ramon (Credit: Danie Espinosa)

For her part, Xochitl Obispo, a Political Science and supplementary Spanish major and Latino Studies minor, emphasized how the contrast between her experience at Notre Dame and in Querétaro helped further her cultural and professional development.

“Studying and interning in Mexico was a very eye-opening and fun experience," she said. "Not only did I learn more about the culture, but I was exposed to a different learning environment that allowed me to better develop my leadership and communication skills.”

Even as a civil engineering major, interning at the Red Cross was very rewarding for me. I was able to strengthen my communication and social skills, which are important attributes for working with companies and communities in order to deliver on infrastructure projects. Both the internship and the academic course were rewarding as I learned more about Mexican culture and marvelous places that are underseen.

Originally published by Jimena Ramazzini at latinostudies.nd.edu on August 23, 2023.