México is a magic land rich in culture, with 68 indigenous languages, a mythic history about the arrival and influence of the Spanish, and a modern overlay of industrialization, technology, and globalization. With 25 million people, how can urban México City attend to the exponential arrival of rural people and serve their needs for water and food? How are the outlying areas of México dealing with these same issues of migration? What about the Indigenous peoples?

Participating in this journey, you will be able to experience the three faces of México: Indigenous, Spanish and Modern. You will deeply engage with communities that are developing their own strategies to address the global human issues of water and food security.

Depending on the length of your experience, you will visit Teotihuacán (with the Pyramid of the Sun, one of the largest in the world) and/or Technoctitlán, (the foundation for México City). You will also visit the murals of Diego Rivera, a testimonial to the emerging class struggles after Mexican Independence. Traveling on to Querétaro you will see the aqueduct, designed in 1723, that is mostly still intact. Nearby you will learn about the Indigenous people who have some of the most elaborate community art in all of México.


Typical Program

Throughout the week your experience will be interwoven with the perspective of Indigenous peoples, their history and their current reality; the remaining legacy of Spanish language, governmental and religious structure; and the new challenges of migration and globalization. Starting in México City, the multi-character of the country will be revealed in visits to historic sites. As well, you will learn about the current issues of the population through engagement in a program dedicated to the right to water.

Traveling on to Querétaro and Guanajuato, you will spend time in one of the cities known for a beautiful colonial center and a grand aqueduct. Your time in community will include visits and activities oriented around sustainable development, rural agriculture, the educational system and community initiatives for vulnerable groups, including the Indigenous community.

Food and Accommodations

The cuisine of Mexico is known the world over for its unique use of traditional foods including corn, beans and squash, often called the three sisters. While in Mexico City there will be opportunities to try various traditional dishes including Mexico City style tacos, mole (from Oaxaca) and chilaquiles (a breakfast specialty). In Queretaro there is more rural fare and the opportunity to taste some specialities of the region including cactus dishes and various sweets. For those with food allergies or needing a special diet, accommodations are made.


In Mexico City, a modest local hotel will provide double accommodation that includes breakfast. This historic hotel is located near the major avenue of Paseo de la Reforma and the US Embassy. While in Queretaro a small local hotel near the city center will house the group and provide breakfast.


Community and Region

México City is the oldest capital in the Americas and the only one founded by Native Americans. The city was originally built on the island of Lake Texcoco, where the Mexican people (called Aztecs) were directed to build when they saw an eagle on a cactus with a snake in its mouth. This remains the symbol on the Mexican flag. Built on a lakebed and with ongoing issues related to sinking, with the arrival of the Spanish, the city was re-conceived and built under Spanish colonial style. In the modern age the city and the surrounding area is now home to 22 million people, one of the largest in the world. The systems necessary to serve this level of population are precarious in a city that grows outward every day with the arrival of rural folks from all over México. Discussions during the trip will include themes related to water scarcity, food systems and energy.

Querétaro is known officially as Santiago de Querétaro. Founded in 1531, the historic city center was named a UNESCO Heritage Site. Known for its high standard of living and safety, the city has expanded in the last 15 years to a population of 1 million plus. Many manufacturers have opened plants here and Queretaro houses a number of the highest rated academic institutions in the country. The rural area is known as part of the Bajío, some of the most productive in México. There are several indigenous groups still working in artisanry including glass and bead work. Among these are the Purhépacha and the Otomí.


Discover the historical, political, and religious constructions of community within México and develop a global lens for comparison
Learn the issues surrounding water and food security in both highly urban and rural areas
Analyze the social movements and identify areas of support and challenge
Understand how leadership is demonstrated at the community level, through community-based programs
Participate in community-defined service projects supporting water catchment and lombricomposta (worm composting)

You will be observing and actively listening to our community partners throughout your time in México. Their ingenuity and many years of experience contain stories you will learn from and remember. A program of life-long learning, you may come away with a new world view and a new perspective of the complexity that is México.


Regional Director, México City

Via International Director in México City, Molly Porth Cabrera develops and coordinates community engagement and travel programs throughout Central México. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Molly currently lives and works in México City. With a master's degree in public administration, Molly has been working for eight years in the public sector, both as a full-time employee of an international non-profit organization and as a consultant, specializing in international exchange and voluntourism, proposal design and community leadership education. A long-time social justice advocate, Molly participated in a life-changing Via trip as a college student at Saint Joseph's University and in several voluntourism trips across the globe. In her free time, Molly can be found teaching and/or practicing yoga, reading, exploring México with her dog and husband, and supporting women during childbirth as a doula.

Fundación Comunitaria del Bajío & Isla Urbana

International is proud to partner with Isla Urbana, a non-profit organization that believes a scarcity of clean water for humans is an unacceptable injustice. Daily, millions of people living in México City fathers, mothers, sons and daughters strain to meet their fundamental water demands. Isla Urbana secures families water future by catalyzing the rainwater harvesting revolution.

We are also proud to partner with Fundacion Comunitaria del Bajío, a civic engagement organization, socially responsible and committed to social justice. They work to strengthen community organizations and initiatives, forge alliances and mobilize resources that support a process of sustainable development.

Isla Urbana
130 Romero de Terreros
04310 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 (55) 5446-4831

Fundacion Comunitaria del Bajío
Blvd. del Bosque No. 86 Colonia Las Reynas,
Irapuato, Guanajuato 36660 México
Phone: +52 462-624-5158

Book a Trip