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Rural Ejidos and Indigenous Cultural


Tecate is a charming border town of northern Baja California, Mexico, and is the center of the ancient territory of the Kumiai people, who today live both north and south of this international borderline. The native peoples here including Kumiai, Paipai, Cucapa and Kiliwa Indians have endured several unsuccessful colonization attempts, government marginalization, and assimilation into the modern way of life. These resilient tribes are now reduced to just a few hundred individuals and they are rapidly losing their customs and traditions.

Located less than an hour drive from San Diego, the Rural Ejidos of Tecate are one of Mexico’s most unique cultural institutions. These communal lands still function today in a complex interdependence.

In partnership with the local Kumiai and Mexican ejidos, volunteers will support local indigenous identity by generating awareness and social progress within the border region working to identify, protect, preserve, and restore this precious cultural heritage. This program will give you a unique insight into community leadership techniques.

Generating awareness by identifying, protecting, and restoring the cultural heritage of the Rural Ejidos of Tecate is the aim of this program. Visitors are welcomed by traditional ceremony and dance. Participants will be immersed in community working side by side with local leaders to help improve educational facilities, community centers, rehabilitation centers, orphanages, local libraries, and promote sustainable agriculture initiatives. By connecting old traditions with a renewed vision we hope to build new institutions that will carry forward the customs of these native peoples.

This project includes opportunities for participants to engage in traditional Kumiai arts with visits to local ceramic artisans’ studios and a crafts workshop providing support to micro-enterprise initiatives. We will also go hiking around one of Tecate’s lakes to perform an ecological survey identifying and harvesting local medicinal plants. Shop from local merchants in the historic town square of Tecate and see the gorgeous murals in the Basilica de Guadalupe. Visit Casa de Migrate, migrant house and listen to local migrant stories. There are also opportunities to learn about and work with honeybees along with a workshop on the “basics of building & repurposing recycled materials”. This program may also include a refreshing stop at the local hot springs of Santa Veronica followed by a scenic drive through Valle de Guadalupe wine country. Learn directly from regional experts with presentations on micro-credit, indigenous identity, and the history of migration.

Loyola University Maryland 

"l highly recommend Via International as a great host agency for meaningful immersion programs, both domestic and international. They are rooted in the community with years of experience and relationships, organized and offer great educational input for the participants. They have everything you need fora comprehensive experience. 

Andrea Coicochea, Assistant Director International Immersions

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The Impact

The experience of an immersion program impacts post-travel


Discover the complexity of border life and globalization in a traditional pueblo setting.


Analyze the unique interdependence between Mexican and Indigenous cultures.


Participate in community-defined service projects improving local schools and teaching elementary English.


Learn how community leadership is demonstrated through communal programs involving food security and education in rural ejidos.


Understand how indigenous identity can keep its roots while adapting to modern living.

Interested in visiting this location?

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