Posted by Dorian Dargan ( Tecnológico de Monterrey-Monterrey, Mexico)
My internship in México has truly been a great experience.
I was doing strategic consulting in Ozolco, México, for a small business that wants to sell corn-husk muñecas (dolls). As consultant to the growing business, I conducted research in local markets to analyze their competition and determine the business’s market niche. I also created a business plan, designed their logo, facilitated the selection of their business name, helped with product development, and created a product sales strategy. The name of the business is Mahuatlalli, which is Nahuatl for “Manos de la tierra” – which is Spanish for (LOL) “Hands of the Earth.” It represents both the community, and their product, which comes from the outer sheaths of the corn that they use so much here. I thought it was amazing how they can turn something that could be deemed worthless into veritable art… and are making money off of it too!
All in all, it’s been great getting to help the women involved in this project – as I’ve given them my advice, and as their trust in me has grown, they have developed an even greater desire to start this business. I believe they have come to value their work, whereas before this endeavor was merely a hobby to them. They now see themselves as entrepreneurs, and for me it is truly a beautiful thing to feel like you have empowered someone to achieve something they’ve always had the potential to do, but had been lacking the necessary guidance and reassurance. Since I’ve been working on this project, I’ve learned a lot about the community’s culture in particular, how things work, and (don’t work), and about the process of starting a business, informally and formally.
The project was fun, but I definitely had a crazier experience outside of the workplace.
One weekend my work group and I went to Catemaco, this town known for its brujos (wizards) – wasn’t really feeling that from the get-go. Catemaco was also the place where Mel Gibson filmed much of Apocalypto. If you’ve seen the movie, then you can imagine how beautiful it is. We were able to tour through some of La Selva where the movie took place. That was really cool… however some weird stuff went down too. Well, for one… the beginning of my problems happened. While playing some ball game with my coworkers on the trip, I dove onto the ground, and accidentally smashed the screen on my camera that was in my pocket. So now, my camera screen is currently adorned with purple, yellow, green, and blue cracks. I can take pictures, apparently, but i can’t see NUFFIN, lol.
Anyways… Catemaco era impresionante… we went kayaking, and hiking through the rainforest. The only suspect part for me was the interaction with the “brujos.” We did this bathing ritual called Temazcal. It’s an ancient “cleansing,” that has been turned into a commercial attraction. Basically, they cover you in mud/clay, which is healthy for your skin, and then you dance around next to a fire to dry the clay. After the bonfire… you go into this sauna where they bring in hot molten rocks, the sheer heat and steam from the rocks nearly suffocates you, while the mud on your skin liquifies and falls to the ground. We stayed in the sauna/igloo for a really long time, longer than most people would stay in a sauna. I left a little early, however because mud started getting in my eyes, and i had my contacts in – not a good combination. After all that… we jumped into Lake Catemaco to clean everything off. It was very refreshing…
Another weekend, I went to D.F. (Mexico City) for the 4th of July. It was cool… we visited La Cathedral, El Museo de Antropología, Zócalo, etc. However, while on my way to a 4th of July party… something happened that kind of ruined the rest of my night. When I was getting on the metro, a pickpocket jacked my wallet, unbeknownst to me… WHAT!? I noticed like 10 seconds later that it had happened, after I got on the train, but I had no idea who it was… there were so many people. I couldn’t stop regretting that I hadn’t been able to see who it was. While in shock that I had been pickpocketed, I was mainly upset that I didn’t have the chance to fight back for my wallet… because I know I would have won. I had to cancel my cards, and I lost all of my ID’s and about $70 worth of cash. WOMP WOMP. So as you can imagine, I was money-less for quite a while… but I persevered, and the countless other amazing experiences made up for it.
I love México… haha!