San Juan, TXMar 4th, 2017 to Mar 11th, 2017
TRIP LOGISTICS AND PARTICIPANT REQUIREMENTS
We will be flying from Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. to McAllen, Texas. Once we are in McAllen we will pick up our rental cars at the airport so we can drive around the area for the week. We will be staying in a dorm-like, volunteer house that comes furnished with bunk beds, bathrooms with showers, a kitchen, and also a common room. The lodging is within walking distance of Proyecto Azteca.
Participants must have positive attitudes and be ready to do whatever we are asked to do. The temperatures in McAllen, Texas are usually around upper 80s/ lower 90s in March, so participants must be capable of working in the heat. A large knowledge of Spanish is not required, however some knowledge of Spanish is recommended as many of the people we will encounter will speak fluent Spanish and little English.
Proyecto Azteca is the main organization the group will be working with for the duration of the trip, and it’s mission is to build homes at work sites and then transport them to the surrounding neighborhoods. The neighborhoods to which Proyecto Azteca provides the homes are called colonias, which are subsidized neighborhoods comprised of predominantly hispanic people. Along with building houses, the group will have the opportunity to work in the nearby refugee shelter run out of a local Catholic church. The refugees are often from South America and come with no personal items, so the participants will be able to greet, feed, and provide them with clothing through the refugee shelter. It is also likely participants will work in a nearby medical clinic which provides medical care to mainly undocumented immigrants. Participants will likely complete tasks ranging from conducting mental health exams to organizing paperwork.
San Juan is located in the extreme south of Texas in Hidalgo County, which borders Mexico. The median annual household income is $22,706, and 34.4% of the population lives below the poverty line. 40.6% of people under age 18 in San Juan live in poverty, and the city earned a D+ rating on employment rate, according to recent census data. As inhabitants of one of the poorest counties in the United States, residents of Hidalgo county often lack access to basic amenities like paved roads, adequate housing, and sanitary sewage. Our service partner Proyecto Azteca strives to aid these underrepresented residents by providing affordable housing in the community.
Our service partner Proyecto Azteca created a self-help housing program in 1991 with the goal of training community members to take part in the construction of affordable housing. Since then, over 400 families have received training in the construction and ownership of their new homes. Proyecto Azteca aids in the construction of 35-60 houses per year in the community, in addition to offering financial services and microloans to residents.
We plan to do a wide variety of recreational activities to fully immerse ourselves in the surrounding community and culture. We have various activities planned such as visiting local markets, seeing St. Peter’s Basilica, exploring the local wildlife refugee, playing putt putt, going out to eat at a local Mexican restaurant, and even taking salsa lessons at a local salsa club!
ABOUT THE SITE LEADERS
Caroline (ceh5sx) is a third year from Louisville, Kentucky studying Media Studies, Poetry Writing, and Spanish. Beyond ASB, she is involved in a cappella and Greek Life. Additionally, she enjoys to run, travel, play guitar, eat brie, and watch videos of French bulldog puppies learning to walk for the first time on YouTube. She has participated on one ASB trip previously to Drake Bay, Costa Rica her Second Year where she and her lovely co-site leader Alyson first bonded over sharing bugspray. Although she has never visited San Juan (or Texas, for that matter), she is extremely excited to get there and make magic happen with the future dream team.
Alyson (aej5uf) is a third year from good ole Richmond, Virginia majoring in Speech Pathology. In her free time she likes adventuring around the Charlottesville area, staying active, eating avocado toast, and planning future travels. Outside of ASB Alyson is involved in Greek Life, Hoo Crew, Madison House, Best Buddies and also works at Finch. She has gone on two previous ASB trips, first year to El Yunque, Puerto Rico and last year to Drake Bay, Costa Rica where she met her amazing co-site leader Caroline! This will be her first time to San Juan and she is super pumped!