2023 Colorado Academy Mexico Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2023 Colorado Academy Mexico Program!  We have created two webpages dedicated to this once in a lifetime experience so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. The Pre-Enrollment page is meant to share exciting details, highlights, and pertinent info, that participants will want to know before enrolling. Once enrolled, the Post-Enrollment page is intended to prepare travelers for participation on the adventure ahead. Please be sure to review the information thoroughly and get excited for Mexico!!
Travel Dates: March 18, 2023 - March 25, 2023
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,874 USD
Deadline(s): Tuition includes the international airfare

What to Expect

Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.

Itinerary

We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers, but given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but if inclement weather pushes us off course or an unexpected opportunity arises which travelers are excited about, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationActivityLodging
March 18USA - Mexico City, MexicoToday we will travel to Mexico City. Upon arrival, we will be transported to our hotel in the historic center of the capital for a delicious first meal followed by an orientation meeting.Hotel Catedral
March 19Mexico CityThis morning we will wander the quaint Coyoacán neighborhood, including a visit to Frida Kahlo's Blue House museum and the chance to sample the famous tostadas inside the Coyoacán market. In the afternoon we head to Parque Chapultepec, an oasis of forest in the middle of the city and once a retreat for Aztec nobility. First, we will visit the Castillo de Chapultepec. Then we head to the superlative Museo de Antropología. Tonight - Lucha Libre! Hotel Catedral
March 20Mexico CityThis morning we will walk through the Zócalo, Mexico's largest central plaza, before marveling at a collection of Diego Rivera’s famous murals. After lunch, we're off to temples of the Sun and Moon at Teotihuacán where we'll spend the afternoon exploring and learning more about Mexico's amazing history.Hotel Catedral
March 21Mexico City - Oaxaca CityAfter breakfast we will leave the big city for Oaxaca, one of the most culturally rich regions of the country. We'll break up the drive with stops in the quaint town of Cholula for lunch, after which we'll hike to an impressive archeolgical site nearby. We then continue south, arriving to our destination in the late afternoon. We'll settle into our hotel then dip into the centro historico for our first Oaxacan dinner! Casona del Llano
March 22Oaxaca, CuajimoloyasToday we will travel up the Sierra Norte to the Pueblos Mancomunados, a series of traditional indigenous villages. We will settle into our rugged cabins in the village of Cuajimoloyas and begin to learn about this unique setting via a guided nature hike and an incredible zipline experience high above the valley. Our meals will be served in the house of a local family and consist of foods from the region, and at night we will sleep in shared cabins comforted by the warmth of a wood burning stove.Cabins
March 23OaxacaAfter enjoying a final village breakfast, we will return to Oaxaca City and spend the afternoon exploring its safe and beautiful streets in a photographic scavenger hunt. Students will be broken into small groups and set out to photograph certain sites and scenes that require problem solving and Spanish language. In the evening, we will gather for dinner and stroll the various plazas of Oaxaca.Casona del Llano
March 24Oaxaca - Mexico CityThis morning we will enjoy our last bit of time in Oaxaca before returning to the capital, roughly a six-hour trip. Upon arrival we'll settle into our hotel, enjoy a celebratory final dinner and also check out a lucha libre performance! Hotel Catedral
March 25Mexico City - USAToday we'll head to the airport and catch our international flight home, ¡hasta luego!Your own bed, eventually!

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Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three-star equivalent hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe. 

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
Hotel Catedral

Located behind the Metropolitan Cathedral and just a few steps from the archaeological ruins of the Templo Mayor and the National Palace in the Plaza de la Constitution,  Catedral Hotel boasts an excellent location, comfortable and clean rooms, and a friendly staff.

La Casona del Llano

Hotel La Casona del Llano is located in central Oaxaca city. The rooms in the hotel are air conditioned, have cable TV and feature garden views. This hotel also counts with its own restaurant, La Casona’s, which serves characteristic Mexican cuisine from the Oaxaca region, and has a terrace dining area overlooking nearby El Llano Park.

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure Airport & City Departure Date and Time  Arrival Airport & City Arrival Date and Time 
Outbound
Volaris Air
Y4
983
DEN – Denver International Airport, Denver, United States
March 18, 2023 at 12:40pm
MEX – Mexico City International Airport, Mexico City, Mexico
March 18, 2023 at 4:25pm
Inbound
United Airlines
UA
1025
MEX – Mexico City International Airport, Mexico City, Mexico
March 25, 2023 at 09:05 AM
IAH – George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, United States
March 25, 2023 at 12:25 PM
Inbound
United Airlines
UA
678
IAH – George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, United States
March 25, 2023 at 03:00 PM
DEN – Denver International Airport, Denver, United States
March 25, 2023 at 12:25 PM

Once your flight has been secured the itinerary will appear here. Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.

Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.

We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, but travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
Air travel is unpredictable, especially in a pandemic.  Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc.  Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route.  Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night.  Our primary role will be to  keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a  quick and effective resolution.

Host Community and Project Details

The cornerstone of our Mexico program is a visit to IPODERAC, a non-profit institution with four decades of experience that was created with the aim of helping vulnerable and/or abandoned children. Situated about an hour outside of Puebla, IPODERAC is a series of dormitories, classrooms, soccer fields, gardens, workshops and farms that house youth who go to school during the day and return in the evening for vocational and academic training, counseling and diversion. Further, IPODERAC is completely self-sustainable earning its operational costs by the production and sell of artisanal cheese, soaps and carpentry, a practice in which the residents are intricately involved. It is one of the most dynamic places Walking Tree has encountered and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to lend a hand. Groups will live on premise and spend their days working with IPODERAC officials and youth in a variety of service projects including general facility maintenance, painting, beautification, and miscellaneous tasks that are needed depending on the time of year groups travel and the needs of IPODERAC at that time.

Packing List

What follows is a sample packing list that is provided as a guideline. Feel free to augment as you feel necessary.  We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.

“Less is more” is a packing tip we encourage for all our travelers. The list below should cover everything you would need, but know yourself and what you are comfortable traveling with.  We suggest bringing only as much as you would be able to carry on your own.

Finally, we recommend consulting a weather forecast for your destination. 

Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.

CLOTHES (quantities depend on your trip length) :

  • Underwear
  • Socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
  • T-shirts (some quick dry)
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Lightweight sweater
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
  • Comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
  • 1 nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions, boys may want to opt for a polo shirt or button up shirt with jeans)
  • Durable athletic/hiking shoes with good grip
  • Sandals (Chaco/Teva/Keen/Merrel sandals are great to have for water activities)
  • Work gloves – required for service work
  • Bandana for work site (optional)
  • A hat that can protect your neck
  • Swimming suit, for surf classes a rash guard is recommended for sensitive skins

TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

  • Sunscreen (You will use a lot. Natural products/lotions are preferred over aerosol, especially for the beach)
  • Mosquito repellent (non-deet/lotions are preferred to reduce environmental impact)
  • Band Aids and Neosporin
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Medication in properly marked original container. It’s important that medication travel in its original container, as customs officials have the right to confiscate it otherwise.

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Sunglasses
  • Journal and pen
  • Book
  • Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
  • Alarm Clock and watch
  • Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on number of desired snacks, souvenirs, extra items etc.)
  • Durable water bottle
  • 1 quick-dry towel
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Batteries
  • Deck of cards or other portable games
  • Host family gift
  • Spanish/English Dictionary

HOMESTAY GIFTS
Travelers often contact us regarding what an appropriate gift might be for their student’s host family. Host families are often curious about where our students come from and their families in the U.S. As such, we recommend a simple gift that describes, represents or depicts your home. Well-received gifts in the past have included calendars or picture/coffee table books from your city or state, a framed picture of your family, paraphernalia from a local sports team, toys, soccer balls, school supplies, or something produced or grown in your hometown, like chocolate, local candy, t-shirts, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to worry about this… Anything, no matter its value, will be well received!

Support Team

At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

Tyler Hansbrough
Tyler Hansbrough
Mexico Country Director & Program Leader


Santa Clara University – B.A. Spanish Studies
Middlebury College – M.A. Spanish Language

Tyler was born in Eugene, Oregon, into the family of the original Ringling Brothers Circus founders. He attended a bilingual immersion school from 1st to 12th grade and spent extended time in Costa Rica and Mexico before graduating high school. His path led him to Santa Clara University in Northern California, during which time he worked in East San Jose with immigrants and studied abroad in Madrid. After college, he stayed in San Jose and worked as a Spanish teacher and tennis coach at a prestigious all-boys Jesuit high school for 12 years. During his time teaching, Tyler founded two powerful immersion trips for his students to both East Los Angeles and Mexico, through which his love of service and travel became infectious and he fell deeply in love with the beautiful country of Mexico. In June 2016 he moved permanently to Mexico City where he currently rents an apartment in the gorgeous Condesa neighborhood. He works for Walking Tree as the Mexico Country Director and also runs his own private food tours for visitors hoping to taste the best tacos in the world, something he struggles to resist each day on his return from the gym!

Luke Mueller
Luke Mueller
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO


Emory University – B.A. Sociology and minor in Latin American History

During college, Luke spent a semester living and traveling in rural Mexico. His experience sparked a fascination with Latin America and a commitment to community service that continues to this day. Upon graduating from college, he joined WorldTeach and lived with a local family in a small village in Costa Rica while teaching elementary English. After this experience, he moved to San José, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and wrote for The Tico Times newspaper. Luke has since traveled to over 60 countries on five different continents.  Now settled in Denver with his family, he continues to crave massive helpings of rice and beans.

Group Roster

Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.

  • 1 Aileen Doniger
  • 2 Aliza Kirkpatrick
  • 3 Andrew Esposito
  • 4 Audrey Shia
  • 5 August Reichert
  • 6 Avery Bakes
  • 7 Fatima Garcia
  • 8 Helaina Korneffel
  • 9 Jane Kelly
  • 10 Miller Rubey
  • 11 Muckleet Degefa
  • 12 Neela Okurut
  • 13 Robert Kenney, Jr.
  • 14 Sarah Perez
  • 15 Tiffany Hernandez Najera
15 Travelers

Blog and Communication

During travel we will work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, after which we recommend you check in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page.

Beyond this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.

 

GLC Curriculum

Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.

For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More About the GLC

To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.

Pre-Program Activity Portal

Standards of Behavior

In order to run a safe and successful program, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE

  1. Failure to abide by COVID-19 restrictions.
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
  3. Possessing weapons.
  4. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  5. Getting a piercing or tattoo.
  6. Being out after curfew.
  7. Breaking group rules.

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of your program. Please take the time to review these as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Mexico website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. WTT will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.

Insurance

While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with  two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.

To provide families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by getting a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your deposit/first payment. You must also insure 100% of your trip cost, so program tuition + flight.

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