Flu cuts Mexico trip short

A group of 11 Red Deer College students, two faculty members and a volunteer is home safe after a study tour to Mexico was cut short over recent fears about the H1N1 flu.

A group of 11 Red Deer College students, two faculty members and a volunteer is home safe after a study tour to Mexico was cut short over recent fears about the H1N1 flu.

Jasna Zec, one of the students on the trip, said she comprehends why RDC chose to get them home early.

“I hope just because of this unfortunate event that the next class isn’t prevented from going,” Zec said.

She will be graduating with an Early Learning and Child Care diploma level three in May and is pleased by what she learned on the trip.

The students were in San Miguel de Allende, around 300 kilometres from Mexico City.

The city is a UNESCO Heritage Site, with stone and brick buildings, and to preserve its historic integrity a large section of it has no traffic lights or signs. The students learned to make nichos (little tin cases that can hold images of saints), saw a salsa dancer and took a trolley through the city during their study tour.

But the main portion of the trip was focused on school and pre-school programs, with students being able to visit Waldorf, Montessori and ABCD preschools, as well as a free daycare, a centre for children with developmental disabilities, an orphanage and other programs. In the evenings the founders and directors of the different organizations would talk to them about the programs.

“The children were just amazing. The language was not a barrier at all,” Zec said. “It was an amazing, amazing experience.”

In regards to the flu, Zec said there was hardly a sign of anything different going on in the city. She said only a handful of people were wearing masks, but otherwise there was no sign of people worried about0 the flu.

Theresa Wiart, the lead RDC instructor on the trip, said she didn’t hear anything about the H1N1 flu until Sunday. They were planning to go to the pyramids outside of Mexico City and were told that portion of the trip needed to be cancelled. “That was the first day I realized that this may be getting serious,” Wiart said.

On Tuesday, a taxi driver told her schools had been closed. Wiart said it was surreal because everyone was going on with their normal activities and there was no sign of any change in the city.

At home in Red Deer, Zec’s three daughters — between age six to 18 — were concerned, but she was able to keep in touch with them through video link on her computer through Skype.

The Red Deer group left Wednesday morning, flying out of Leon, Mexico, to Houston and then Calgary. A couple of people on the plane had masks on, but otherwise the trip was normal.

Once the RDC group arrived in Calgary they were asked if they had any of the symptoms of the flu, such as fever or other symptoms, but everyone was feeling fine.

Since arriving home Wednesday night, Wiart has spoken to some of the students and they are fine.

Zec said her family is happy to have her home.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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