Before Thanksgiving break, I attended the Project Mexico auction. As I walked through the student center I heard all of the noise from McGuire Hall. When I entered the auction site, the room was filled with people bidding on different items. Everyone there was present to support CCSJ, Project Mexico, and Encounter El Salvador. Today, this auction is one of Loyola’s most celebrated events.
Project Mexico began in 1987 and was created by two Loyola Jesuits, Peter Clark, S.J. and Joseph Koterski, S.J. It is an international immersion program located in Tijuana and Tecate, Mexico. Twenty Loyola students and three faculty members travel to Mexico in early January. They work together to serve the community by participating in construction projects, social activities, and educational programs. The mission of this program is to foster personal growth through service, justice, spirituality, and education.
After a group returned from Mexico, they wanted to start service activities in the local area. Students wanting to serve in the Baltimore area helped create the Center for Community Service and Justice. As a result, Project Mexico transformed Loyola College, and without it, the same amount of service activity would not exist.
This year, over sixty applications were received for Project Mexico. After much consideration, eighteen students were chosen, consisting of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, along with two student leaders and three faculty members.
The first auction took place in 1991 and auctioned around forty items. Today the auction sells over 260 items, including football tickets, weekend vacations, dinner with Father Linnane, and Princeton Review classes. To keep the crowd entertained there are performances by the Belles and Chimes, as well as a Mexican buffet. In addition to the activities inside McGuire Hall, there is a silent auction in the hallway. These auction items include all different categories, from art to household appliances to sporting apparel.
A partner to Project Mexico is Encounter El Salvador. This international immersion program takes place in El Salvador for ten days, following graduation in May. Nine undergraduate students, four graduate students, faculty, and two co-coordinators experience this chance in a lifetime. This program has a similar mission statement to Project Mexico, to foster personal growth, but also understand the Salvadorian’s struggle for justice and the trauma from the war.
Project Mexico and Encounter El Salvador encourage the students to be open-minded and see the world through new eyes, similar to how Viola has a new view of the world when she impersonates a man, Cesario. The Loyola students are removed from their natural surroundings, their comfort zone, and placed in a new environment. Viola wants to conceal her identity and disguise herself as a servant for Duke. She is a noble and has placed herself in a new environment, serving a fellow nobleman. Being placed in a new environment, whether in Mexico or Illyria, leads to life altering experiences.