Dr. Philip G. Ryken ’88
Wheaton College President
The trip was delayed because of COVID, but finally, this spring, I visited Wheaton in México.
Wheaton in México is a 17-week program that combines language practice, interdisciplinary coursework, and cultural immersion to give students a unique opportunity to experience the people and cultures of Mexico.
The program is based in Querétaro—a historic highland city that is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“¿Qué opina de Querétaro?” This was the first question that many locals asked. They wanted to know what visitors thought of their sunny skies, soaring spires, vibrant plazas, and delicious cuisine.
Querétaro is a treasure. So are its people. At the heart-beat of the program are the host mothers. From the moment our students arrive, las señoras welcome them as their own children, hugging and kissing them, serving them meals, giving them advice, and blessing them on their way out the door.
Our students need all the encouragement they can get. Cultural immersion is as grueling as it is rewarding. After full days of Mexican art, history, language, and literature at a local university, our students need at least nine hours of sleep every night. All of them also serve once a week in local schools or ministries and get actively involved in local churches.
They also play hard, just like their classmates back in Wheaton. Some take dance classes or compete in local soccer leagues. They also find time to go out with friends for tacos and churros. And they go to parties, including the annual Baile del Presidente, their smaller adaptation of the College’s Prez Ball back in Wheaton, this one complete with piñata.
After telling our hosts how much I enjoyed their fair city, I had a question for them in return: ¿Qué opinan de nuestros estudiantes?
Simply put, they find our students to be exceptional: kind and loving, thoughtful and respectful, filled with faith and laughter. They told it me was un privilegio to welcome Wheaton students into their classrooms, their churches, their homes.
The goal of study abroad is to help students gain life-changing perspective. I gained new perspective too, as I saw our students through the eyes of their hosts. Wheaton students are exceptional—in Querétaro and everywhere else they go in the name of Jesus.
A cobblestone street in Querétaro, Mexico.
Photo by Lisa Maxwell Ryken ’88