Mexico - Geographic and Cultural Diversity
The city of Oaxaca offers an extraordinary array of cultural activities and serves as a logistical base for international students and travelers. One look at the cobbled streets, shaded squares, colonial churches and busy markets and it is clear why UNESCO declared Oaxaca a World Heritage Site in 1987. The city is in close proximity to some of Mexico's best preserved archaeological areas, and is surrounded by communities renowned for their cultural diversity and the quality of local crafts. The state of Oaxaca is one of the most ethnically diverse in all of the 31 states in Mexico. The many indigenous groups in the area boast over 90 dialects in 14 distinct languages.
The state of Oaxaca has the greatest biodiversity and variety of natural terrain of any state in Mexico. Within a few hours, one can travel from the sandy beaches of the Pacific coastline to tropical jungles to thickly pine tree-forested mountains of over 10,000 feet
A Country in Need
In 2002, half the population in Mexico was living in poverty and one fifth was living in extreme poverty. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico with more than a third of its population living on less than three dollars a day. According to government statistics, the literacy rate is 79% and about half of all children don't finish primary school, many dropping out to work alongside their parents.
The lack of productive jobs forces many families to depend on the income of their children. Access to medicine and health care is minimal with the state run health care attending to just 23% of the population. These factors and many others combine to lock the people of Oaxaca in a continual struggle against poverty.
Throughout the semester ProMexico offers cultural and outdoor outings and academically oriented adventures. These may include:
- A trip to the Mixteca Region of Northwest Oaxaca
- A visit to Chacahua National Park on Oaxaca's Western Coast
- A trip to the state of Veracruz and the Gulf of Mexico
- Hikes through Zapotec Villages in the Sierra Norte
- Visits to Artisan communities of the Central Valleys where ancient traditions continue to produce stunning pottery, woodcarvings and weavings
- Visits to museums/art galleries and attendance at local cultural events
- Visits to Pre-Hispanic archaeological sites such as Monte Alban, Yagul and Mitla
- Community development projects
For more information about the project outings please visit the Projects pages.