July 23rd, 2012
Xel-Ha, Vive Mexico and UNESCO | Together for the Community
Usually when you think of summer, the first thing that comes to mind is beach, sun, pool and lazy summer days. But volunteer vacations have become more and more popular; the Riviera Maya is no exception.
Now in its third year, the Summer Workshop Xel-Ha Chemuyil promotes a culture of volunteerism in communities throughout the region. The summer camp began as a proposal in coordination with the organization “Vive Mexico” and Xel-Ha Park. The project is sponsored by UNESCO. This summer, 9 young people from around the world gathered in a small town in Quintana Roo to help and teach a group of children in the community.
Chemuyil is located 10 minutes from the Ecological Park, Xel-Ha. As part of the Park’s sustainable development, Xel-Ha promotes the urban renewal of the community. This year, volunteers come from Korea, USA, Spain and for the first time, Mexico. The workshop is important as it allows the integration of the children in the community with other cultures and nationalities different from their own. With activities like yoga, recycling and crafts, the 80 participating children learn about respect for their community.
One activity, for example, is to build crafts with recyclable materials. The children gather the tools they will use within their own community.
This year, the focus was dedicated to the environment, although in previous years, the children have had language classes where they learn English and Italian. However, the day-to-day helps children learn phrases and cultural references as well as volunteers learn things from Mexico and some even dust-off their Spanish.
“The main benefit is the cultural enrichment that is generated and the fact that it’s mutual because just as the children learn from the volunteers, the volunteers learn from the children and the whole context of the community.” – Josephine Galvan, Head of Social Development Xel-Ha.
For Xel-Ha, these activities in the community are important because they motivate children and young people to expand their knowledge in the spiritual and personal realm, which will then lead to professional growth.
Project organizers hope to expand the summer camp to a long term project, where international volunteers live in the community full-time and share their knowledge year-round.
Have you been a volunteer at a summer camp? Tell us your experience.