If someone asks you to help build a human pyramid in the middle of Oaxaca’s oldest plaza – definitely say “yes!” We were there with seven 13 year old girls for our Riveted Girls Oaxaca summer camp. Our goal was to travel responsibly, get to know people, and to teach the girls that they could be anything that inspired them.
“Perdón, ¿Hablan Uds. español?” a young female college student asked in Spanish. We were approaching Oaxaca’s historic Santo Domingo plaza at the same time that blue skies emerged from the August morning grey. Can you help us with a class project for the university? It’s a contest and we need to spell out “Cinco de Mayo”.
¡Qué lindo! I thought. Who could say no to a legitimate opportunity to lie down on the cobblestones on one of the oldest streets in Oaxaca?! Many Oaxacan students were already on the ground laughing, twisting into shapes.
I asked the young woman to question the girls directly (truth be told, I was taking advantage of an opportunity to have the girls engage in Spanish). Several girls agreed, introducing themselves before being directed to lie down next to already-placed college kids. Emelyn and Camille formed the “M”. Josie formed the “A”. I did the “Y”. And Jordan completed mayo with the “O”. Onlookers were amused. Many stopped to watch.
There was a lot of pointing combined with Spanish to get all the limbs at correct angles. (I think I asked if we were actually spelling out “Cinco de Gringo” and that got everyone chuckling.)
We posed for another college student on a balcony above us as she took the contest-winning picture. She gave the thumbs up – mission accomplished.
But it wasn’t over. Another group had approached, asking the other half of the girls to help on a different mission: to build a human pyramid.
Beija and Claire scrambled to balance on the backs of older boys, steadied by helping hands. Later described as “solid but a bit sweaty”, the third layer stabilized. Positive shouts erupted when Mia balanced at the pinnacle, and more students rushed to take photos with their phones for mission-accomplished proof.
Both groups were curious and friendly, asking where we were from. And using Apple Airdrop, several Oaxacan students traded photos with Kymber who had taken photos from her phone.
Later in the evening, we reflected on what we loved and learned about the day. The girls revealed that for them the excitement was the shared project they completed with the Oaxacan university students. It was unexpected. It was fun. They felt included. They got to connect outside their group in a real way. And it showed them just how friendly and similar the college kids were to those that you’d find anywhere.
So if you are out there travelling with kids, try saying “yes” to invitations that might initially seem uncomfortable. And definitely opt-in to helping to build that human pyramid.
We are planning more trips to Oaxaca! A family trip this winter and more summer camps in 2019. Sign up for our mailing list to be the first to get all the info!