If you can’t get to Mexico this winter, Camexicanus is offering County residents a short trip down south for an evening this Sunday, Feb. 23.
Dubbed February Fiesta, it’s a fundraiser for their March break volunteer humanitarian arts trip.
Founder Greg Sadlier and his wife Hannah Sadlier are taking four local Grade 11 and 12 students to Monterrey and the Yucatan, Mexico for a crosscultural arts exchange.
Camexicanus was officially formed in 2013 but its journey has been developing for years, ever since Greg went to Mexico in 2001 on a similar student exchange.
Sadlier said the Haliburton students will be running arts camps, working with charities, meeting Camexicanus Mexican students and their families and representing Canada and the Highlands on their trip.
He said it’s a mirror image of what Mexican students did when they came to Haliburton this past summer, “running day camp programs for kids especially in underreached areas that don’t have any programs.”
During the trip, they will be connecting with their Mexican students, staying in their homes with their families, and experiencing real Mexican life, he said.
Sadlier said a lot of organizing goes into the trip, including hockey bags of arts, craft and music supplies. In some cases, they purchase items in Mexico to help the economy there.
“It’s always a bit of a balancing game. If we can get it there, at relatively the same price or less expensive, I prefer to do that.” He added it is hard to predict the needs when in Canada. For example, they may arrive to find a family desperately needs a new microwave oven. “We just have to be prepared and be ready. if we’re doing a kids’ camp and we become aware of a need with a family, we need to be ready to jump in and fill those needs.”
He encouraged people to come out to the fundraiser as he believes their program is unique due to the “breadth and width” of their reach. He said Haliburton youth not only receive a cross-cultural exchange but stay on to form Camexicanus’ summer staff. They also run after-school programs and had almost 100 students in 2019 across the County.
“It’s sort of the ripple effect of cultural change that I think is very unique when you are working with youth and in an arts context,” he said.
The event is being held upstairs at the A.J. LaRue Arena this Sunday at 6 p.m. The Sadliers will be cooking an authentic Mexican feast, including tamales and enchiladas, and the kids will be putting on a show that will feature music, dancing and theatre. There’s also a silent auction. The cost is $25 for adults and $15 for students. Tickets are available online or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org