Student Spotlight: Guanajuato, Building Integrated Communities Intern Paige Hines
UNC Study Abroad in Guanajuato, Mexico is a student exchange program with the Universidad de Guanajuato (UG) in the city of Guanajuato, Mexico. This is a collaborative program of UNC Study Abroad, the Latino Migration Project, and the Department of Romance Studies.
UNC students directly enroll at the Universidad de Guanajuato (UG) for an opportunity to fully integrate into the academic, social, and cultural life in Guanajuato. One of these students we had the pleasure of speaking with is Paige Hines.
Q: Paige, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
A: I’m a senior Global Studies and Spanish Literatures and Culture major, originally from Greensboro, North Carolina. Like Chapel Hill and Carrboro, Greensboro has an increasing immigrant and refugee population. Growing up, and especially in high school, I was fortunate enough to be able to hear some of their stories, which has definitely informed how I see North Carolina today.
Q: Tell us more about what brought you to participate in the UNC Study Abroad Guanajuato program. How did the experience impact you?
A: I knew that I wanted to study abroad, learn more about Latin American culture and improve my Spanish. I heard of the spring service learning course that traveled to Guanajuato over spring break and thought it was a fascinating way to learn more about migration, its causes and the communities many who have settled in North Carolina have come from. When I saw that the study abroad program to Guanajuato opened up, I thought it would be a great opportunity to have a unique experience abroad. Also, Mexico has always fascinated me!
I loved every second of being in Guanajuato. I learned a lot about culture, food, politics, art, society and history through my host family who I chatted with over breakfast and dinner every day. Through the study abroad program, I got to see a rural side to the state I was living in, and learned about obstacles to higher education for those living in rural areas. I was really fortunate that pretty much every aspect of living in Guanajuato was a learning opportunity, from my friends, school, service and home. I was surprised at how many people I met by chance who had family connections to North Carolina.
A: Since I’ve returned, I have been working Building Integrated Communities, an initiative that partners with North Carolinian towns and counties to implement policies that better include their immigrant populations, as well as Student Action with Farmworkers, a non-profit in Durham that bring students together with farmworkers to work to further the farmworker justice movement in the Carolinas. I have been excited in both roles to learn about different issues facing Latino immigrants, especially in terms of health and policy.
Q: We love how involved you are. What do you tell your friends when they ask about Guanajuato?
A: Guanajuato is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, and maybe the world! I was fascinated by the landscapes all around the city, and the colorful buildings characteristic of Guanajuato. I think many people have a different idea of what my experiences would be like than they really were, so I love to break those expectations.
My favorite memory may have been when my parents came to visit me. I became very close with my host family, and one night we all went out to dinner at a nice restaurant in a main plaza. A group of about 15 student-performers dressed in old Spanish attire (the town is Cevantes obsessed) came in to sing traditional callejoneada songs to another table, which is quite the performance. I got to enjoy the evening with my two families, who couldn’t even speak to each other, and celebrate a Guanajuato tradition. It was exciting to have my parents experience this alongside me, and my host family got to explain to us the history behind the songs and traditions. It was a memorable night!
Q: A memorable night indeed! We love that story. Why should others consider going to Guanajuato?
Guanajuato is an amazingly multicultural city because of the university. People wanted to share with you the things they loved about their country, its people and culture. It also is complexly located economically. Much is changing and quickly, from industry and mining to agriculture and folk art. I think it is important to learn a little about those economic struggles to understand many facets of migration.
For fun I like to read, travel, drink good coffee at cafes, backpack and hike and do yoga. I did all of those things in Guanajuato, too!
Paige, thank you so much. We look forward to hearing about your future adventures!