Trip to Mexico continues in spite of mayoral assassination and Zika virus

The+Mexico+trip%2C+led+by+Spanish+teachers+Alisa+Conner+and+Pedro+Mendez%2C+will+spend+most+of+its+time+in+the+town+of+Cuernevaca%2C+neighboring+a+town+whose+mayor+was+recently+assassinated.

The Mexico trip, led by Spanish teachers Alisa Conner and Pedro Mendez, will spend most of its time in the town of Cuernevaca, neighboring a town whose mayor was recently assassinated.

Jacob Spiegel, Business Associate/Graphics Editor

 

From Feb. 13 to Feb. 27, Spanish students and teachers will be traveling to Cuernavaca, Morelos, for the high school’s annual Mexico trip. Students will have the opportunity to study Spanish at a school taught in both English and Spanish, and will be divided by a placement test to join smaller classes better suited to their ability. Multiple times throughout the trip, students will be going to various places in Morelos, such as the Frida Kahlo museum, Teotihuacán, an archaeological site, and Taxco, a colonial town.

On Jan. 2, the mayor of Temixco was assassinated in her town, which neighbors Cuernavaca, the town that the high school’s Mexico trip will primarily be located at. Students and parents have expressed concern over the safety of this year’s Mexico trip, since the murder was likely a result of organized crime.

According to Spanish teacher Pedro Méndez, one of the teachers chaperoning the trip, there were 25 students originally signed up for the Mexico trip, but four families have since pulled their children out.

“And probably, although I’m not sure if it (safety) was the reason, they decided to cancel. Although one of them expressed, ‘oh, given the situation in Mexico, I don’t feel comfortable with my daughter or son going to Mexico,’” Mendez said.

One of the students who dropped out of the trip is Junior Max Barrett, who said that after his parents spoke with other parents of students, they made the decision to pull him out.

“I was going on it, and then once the parents started talking to each other, my parents decided that I couldn’t go,” Barrett said.

Barrett said that although he wasn’t concerned about his own safety, his parents did not want to be concerned with the inherent risks of this year’s trip.

“They wouldn’t want to have the worry, that I’d be fine. It was mainly based on the crime rates in the city. I mean, it was a pretty rational thing,” Barrett said.

Another chaperone, Spanish teacher Alisa Conner, said that many of the parents of students attending the trip have been discussing their thoughts over email messages. Conner said that teachers have been working with the administration and acting superintendent to determine the weight of the risks involved.

“Some parents said, ‘we’re concerned about these accounts and what it says on the state department website, and we’re feeling uncomfortable with that,’” Conner said. “And some parents echoed those concerns, and some parents said, ‘you know, there’s risks wherever you travel.’ So different parents had different perceptions of risk, and communicated that to each other.”

According to Junior Yana Goldshteyn, who will be going on the Mexico trip, she and a few parents have expressed concern over a different issue: the Zika virus, which has been spreading throughout South and Central America.

“I’m not concerned about the mayor, but I am concerned about the Zika virus,” Goldshteyn said. “I’m sure everyone’s parents are really concerned about it. And some of the kids withdrew from the trip. I’m really excited to go to Mexico, so that drives me forward. I overlook the facts since the trip is so amazing.”

Both Mendez and Connor said that although there has been higher concerns about the risks of the trip this year, there have been minimal changes to the itinerary and safety procedures. They said, however, that the administration has asked that more chaperones accompany the students when traveling out of Cuernavaca.

“Something different about this year is going to be to have extra eyes during the trip, but the itinerary didn’t change,” Mendez said. “The school offered us, in addition to us three, another five people to be with us at all times during the excursions and field trips.”

Conner said that it was important for parents to decide independently whether they feel comfortable sending their child on the Mexico trip. She noted that it is important to keep in mind that there is an inherent risk in all aspects of daily life, and and the high school made the decision that the trip will be a valuable experience worth continuing this year.
“There is a level of risk that we all take just living our lives. So try to keep that in perspective, and the teachers and administration decided that this is a trip absolutely worth having, and that we can do it safely,” Conner said.