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Globalization Through the Three Faces of Mexico

Mexico 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 Mexico City attend to the exponential arrival of rural people and serve their needs for water and food? How are the outlying areas of Mexico 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 Mexico: 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 Teotihuacan (with the Pyramid of the Sun, one of the largest in the world) and/or Technoctitlan, (the foundation for Mexico City). You will also visit the murals of Diego Rivera, a testimonial to the emerging class struggles after Mexican Independence. Traveling on to Queretaro 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 Mexico.


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 Mexico 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 Queretaro 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.

Duration and Directions

Groups will arrive and be greeted at the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. Transfers to Queretaro are included in the fees. Ground transportation is included from time of arrival until departure from Mexico City.


Upon arrival and after resting from the flight, an orientation will be provided including an introduction to Central Mexico with facts about local customs and culture, safety, rules and expectations. Volunteers will also learn about the critical issues facing communities, including access to water and food. The orientation will provide an overview of activities for the week and background on the projects, people, and places where we will engage.

Via International is also prepared to offer a curriculum in support of this journey. This includes reading lists, pre trip seminars and post trip reflection modules.

Volunteer Requirements

Volunteers should be adaptable and flexible, willing to work as part of a team, and respectful of local traditions, culture, and customs. Those taking part in community development projects need to be capable of doing physical work, although previous experience is not essential. Spanish language ability is useful, but not necessary.

Click here to view the packing checklist.

Check out a Sample Itinerary

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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

Mexico 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 Mexico. Discussions during the trip will include themes related to water scarcity, food systems and energy.

Queretaro is known officially as Santiago de Queretaro. 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 Bajio, some of the most productive in Mexico. There are several indigenous groups still working in artisanry including glass and bead work. Among these are the Purhepacha and the Otomi.

Via Local Partner Organizations

Isla Urbana – is a non-profit organization that believes a scarcity of clean water for humans is an unacceptable injustice. Daily, millions of people living in Mexico 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.

Fundacion Comunitaria de Bajío – is 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.


  • Discover the historical, political, and religious constructions of community within Mexico 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 Mexico. 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 Mexico.


  • Loyola University Maryland “I highly recommend Via International as a great host agency for meaningful immersion programs, both domestic and international. They are rooted in the community with years of experience and relationships, organized and offer great educational input for the participants. They have everything you need for a comprehensive experience.”
    Andrea Goicochea, Assistant Director International ImmersionsAndrea Goicochea, Assistant Director International Immersions
  • University of Colorado Boulder
    “Via International is an excellent partner in engaging students in grassroots community development. During our recent service-learning trip to Bolivia, they proved responsive to our needs and adept at working with community partners and navigating local realities. The students came away with a remarkable understanding of local issues and global interconnectedness.”
    Karey Sabol, Director of International ProgramsKarey Sabol, Director of International Programs
  • Stonehill College
    “Our first experience working with Via International was exemplary.  The communication with the organizers was thorough and timely.  All aspects of the trip were carefully considered and taken care of with great respect to our group needs and the needs of 
    the receiving community. Our students walked away with a heightened commitment to learning about indigenous peoples, immigration and migration into the United States and a desire to educate their peers, friends and families regarding the information they learned.  We are definitely partnering with Via again and are grateful for such an educational, fun and life changing experience.”
    MaryAnne Cappelleri, Campus Minister for Service Immersion ProgramsMaryAnne Cappelleri, Campus Minister for Service Immersion Programs


With over 20 trips and 300 participants per year, students around the world are capturing images and videos of our different voluntour sites. The best ones are featured here. Submit yours today by clicking here.

Video Credit: Megan Campbell

San Diego State University – March 2017

Video Credit: Micah Burog and special thanks to Fundacion Comunitaria de Queretaro & Isla Urbana

Students from San Diego State University (28 students and 2 faculty) traveled to Central Mexico for a service break trip.
With Fundacion Comunitaria de Queretaro & Isla Urbana, they experienced globalization through the three faces of Mexico.

Video Credit: Jenny Lam

San Diego State University – March 2015

Photo Credit: Elisa Sabatini

San Diego State University – March 2015

Photo Credit: Will Rattigan

San Diego State University – March 2015

Photo Credit: Elisa Sabatini

San Diego State University – March 2015

Photo Credit: Gabriel Reed

San Diego State University – March 2015

Photo Credit: Will Rattigan

San Diego State University – March 2015

Photo Credit: Elisa Sabatini

San Diego State University – March 2015

Photo Credit: Gabriel Reed

San Diego State University – March 2015

Photo Credit: Elisa Sabatini

Program Fees

Program Development

Is a key expertise of Via Staff providing faculty and student leaders collaborative input to refine itineraries. We create unique access to local partners and coordinate all pre-trip activities.

Travel Services

Provide 3 meals-a-day including snacks and clean water, lodging at community site, adventure activity and museum entrance fees, first aid supplies, and 24-hour supervision. (Via transportation optional)

Educational Services

Create dynamic cultural exchange through a full-time Regional Coordinator and translator, presentations by local experts and partner organizations, discussions on regional issues and initiatives, community preparation and participation support.

Community Support

Covers the cost of volunteer work projects, bringing vital resources to community-driven initiatives, and funding the purchase of tools and materials that facilitate the visitor experience.

Sustainable Development Support

Provides an important donation to mission-based initiatives for year-round program development of micro-creditnutritionleadership educationecology training, and sustainable development initiatives.

Via's Integrated Model

We’ve designed our programs to provide high-value, affordable travel while maximizing volunteer and educational impact. Via provides full-service support and coordination to simplify logistics for group leaders and engage seamlessly with community-driven initiatives and local community members. Via’s regional facilitators and educational program development provide and integrated approach that offers visiting volunteer groups a deeply immersive, inspiring, memorable, and transformational experience that is safe, stable, reliable, and impactful.

We are very proud to offer this level of access and impact. A group of 14 participants can volunteer in Central Mexico for a 10 day immersion at an estimated cost of $1700 per participant. To receive an exact quote based on your organization’s specific needs, please complete the form below.

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