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CAST Schools Student Advisory Delegation Visits Mexico City

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CAST Schools led a delegation of students from their advisory on a leadership and cultural immersion expedition to Mexico City. This one-of-a-kind experience is made possible through a partnership with the U.S.-Mexico Foundation and their U.S.-Mexico 360 citizen diplomacy program. Participating students were not just visitors; they were welcomed as ambassadors of their community, soaking in the vibrant culture, engaging in transformative learning with leaders from different sectors, and igniting a passion for global citizenship. “I have gained memories that will last a lifetime and knowledge I will hold dear,” shared Audrie Torres, a CAST Med student.

The U.S.-Mexico 360 citizen diplomacy program provides the opportunity for U.S. and Mexican leaders from various sectors – businesses, think tanks, universities, and research centers, civil associations – to travel to Mexico to participate in cultural immersion and delve into different topics related to the bilateral relationship, including politics and government, trade and economy, energy, education, and the media, among other current issues. CAST Schools is the foundation’s first high school delegation to participate in this experience.

Day 1: Strengthening Partnerships

The first day of the trip to Mexico City saw the Student Advisory meeting with government officials ranging from the federal government to global humanitarian efforts.

Students first visited with Isabel Sorela (External Relations) and Daniela Segovia (Senior Assistant for Protection), representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Mexico City.
The UNHCR is a United Nations agency mandated to aid and protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration, or resettlement to a third country. The delegation learned how the global migration crisis can affect anybody at any time and why it is essential to have empathy for others.

Next, the Student Advisory toured the Senado de la República and met with Senator Luis David Ortiz Salinas, who emphasized the importance of young voters and young leaders in government. The Mexican federal government is similar to that of the United States in that they both have a president and a two-house congress, a state/federal system wherein the states have governors and their laws, and a written constitution.

The Student Advisory finished its first day at the Ministry of Foreign Relations meeting with David Fortoul, Director for Innovation and Economic Affairs, and Cristina Planter, North American Political Affairs Coordinator. During their meeting, students learned about the expanding import/export efforts for Mexico and the United States and how this relationship will continue to strengthen.

Day 2: Doing Good in our Community

The Student Advisory made their first stop at A Favor del Nino, a non-profit Pre-K-through-6 grade academy located in the heart of Mexico City. Speakers included Sofía de Garay, Board Member A Favor del Niño, Daniela Jiménez Moyao, Execuvite Director, A Favor del Niño, and Juan Manuel González, Executive Director, Enseña por México.

A Favor del Nino strives to empower their children and adolescents to transform their social patterns through quality education and holistic support, enabling them to seize better opportunities and positively contribute to society. “Meeting the kids brought so much joy and love in my heart,” shared Leona Fletcher, a CAST Lead student.

After they visited the school, the Student Advisory spent the afternoon touring the famous canals of Xochimilco, the last remnants of a vast water transport system built by the Aztecs. During the boat tour, students enjoyed a farm-to-table meal at Arca Tierra, a small outdoor kitchen off the river. After the meal, a guide toured students around the chinampa and explained the regenerative agriculture practices of the region.

“Xochimilco was such a unique experience! It was amazing to see the culture and traditional agriculture in Mexico. These experiences brought me much joy and curiosity,” shared Audrie Torres, CAST Med student.

After a long day of travel, the students ended their ‘culture’ day by visiting the sprawling markets and vendors at Coyoacan before having dinner together nearby.

DAY 3: Meeting with Industry Leaders

The last full day of the trip saw the Student Advisory meeting with prominent industry partners in Mexico. The first stop was at Coca-Cola’s Mexico headquarters, where students met with Lorena López and Eduardo Jacobo. The team shared strategies for creating customer-centric experiences, Coca-Cola’s global leadership position, and how the drink has become a staple in Mexico for the past century. Before the meeting, the Student Advisory was treated to free Coca-Cola and given a tour of Coke Mexico’s Communication/Marketing Department, including state-of-the-art soundproof rooms and a broadcasting room for Coca-Cola FM.

Students were also surprised to learn that the Coca-Cola portfolio included much more than just the staple soda drink and that earlier this year, the company hosted the “Coca-Cola Music Experience,” a music festival with 30 different artists and over 250,000 attendees.

Next, the Student Advisory met with Fernanda Rodriguez and Diana Gomez from General Motors de Mexico. Both emphasized recruiting young talent, especially in the ever-changing automotive industry. With electric vehicles’ current direction, it is no secret that CAST students’ experience/education makes them promising leads for these innovative positions.

After some mid-day shopping at Parque Lincoln, the Student Advisory concluded its business tour by meeting with AT&T, the third-largest wireless carrier in Mexico, with 21 million reported subscribers in December 2022.

To conclude the day, students toured the majestic Museo de Antropología, an inspiring experience celebrating the history and culture of the region.

CAST would like to thank the U.S.-Mexico Foundation, the UNHCR, Senator Luis David Ortiz Salinas, the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, A Favor del Nino, Coca-Cola Mexico, General Motors de Mexico, and AT&T for their hospitality and support for CAST Schools and its Student Advisory.

Tremendously Grateful

We’re tremendously grateful to the:

U.S.-Mexico Foundation, thank you for curating this incredible experience for our student leaders.
City Councilmembers who supported this trip financially: Sukh Kaur, Adriana Rocha Garcia, Marina Gavito, and Melissa Hovdra for their belief in the importance of a global perspective.
The offices of Congressman Greg Casar, Joaquin Castro, Henry Cuellar, and Tony Gonzales
Partner School Districts: East Central ISD, San Antonio ISD, and Southwest ISD

CAST Schools Delegation included:

Advanced Learning Academy (San Antonio ISD): Aliana C, Aidan F., and Meghan Harrington (Partnership Coordinator)
CAST Lead (East Central ISD): Rogelio C., Leona F., Kendra P., and Laura Riojas (Teacher)
CAST Med (San Antonio ISD): Paulina G., Audrie T., and Elizabeth Agosto (Teacher)
CAST STEM (Southwest ISD): Izaac G., Jasmine W., and Tim Bishop (Partnership Coordinator)
CAST Tech (San Antonio ISD): Nathan B., Ezbai H., Sophia T., and David Guadiano (Teacher)
CAST Network: Jeanne Russell (Executive Director), Jen Maestas, Heriberto “Eddie” Rodriguez, and Josh Collins

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