Who are we?
Journeys Beyond the Surface is made up of Journey Coordinator Mojdeh Hojjati, working in collaboration with a group of men and women. We are friends from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds, each with our own contact with Mexico beyond the surface, including links to grassroots communities and civil society organizations.
In the "Testimonials" section of this website you will find comments by students and others for whom Mojdeh has played a trip facilitating role. We iinvite you to browse through the section, to get a better idea of our work. Since the advent of TripAdvisor, we have been sending our recommendations there, so to read recent feedback click here.
I have been living and working in Mexico for 22 years now. Mexico has become my home and my roots, my beloved everyday reality.
My vocation as a bridge was formed through a lifetime of being in two or more cultures, becoming a part of both sides without losing contact with either. I have been straddled this way from the beginning; my Iranian parents went to the US to study, where I was born. Iwas 4 when they returned to Iran. Although I lived there until age 16, my daily life was in contact with non-Iranian cultures. As a girl in a very small, English-language, mixed-sex school (very uncommon in Iran), I was Iranian and yet also foreign. When my parents sent me to the US in 1978 (due to the eruption of the Iranian Islamic Revolution), I found myself first in a large public high school in Beaumont, South Carolina and later, alone in a huge American university. In these places, I was an American (citizen) and yet also foreign. Upon completing my Master's degree in Agricultural Economics / Community Development in 1988, I arrived in Mexico for a one-year internship with a colleague of one of my professors.
At first I was completely overwhelmed by Mexico City, a feeling augmented by my total lack of Spanish and lack of money for classes. But 12 months late and with the valuable support of my mentor Gustavo Esteva, I was just starting to feel comfortable and to participate actively here. So I stayed another year, and another, eventually realizing that this is where I most prefer to live. I began collaborating with Mexican non-profit organizations and civil society groups in conceiving, planning and implementing specific activities or projects. I also became useful as a bridge between these groups and outsiders (students, researchers, activists from other countries) who wanted to get to know them.
Today, I continue to live straddled between cultures -- I continue to be an Iranian and an American, but at the same time I have immersed myself in this city and country. I have created roots and family here with my beautiful, challenging 16 year-old adolescent and a loving tribe. Over the past 22 years, my collaboration with Mexican civil society organizations has continued and expanded. For 12 years, I worked as a consultant for corporate foundations such as the Levi Strauss Foundation and the Kellogg Foundations, facilitating their social grantmaking efforts throughout Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. In addition, I have organized educational trips and accompanying university student groups in Mexico for over 10 years, mainly for 2 now-defunct study-abroad programs: Rethinking Globalization, of the International Honors Program, and School for International Training (SIT) but also for other US, European and Canadian universities.
And since 2006, through Journeys Beyond the Surface we have accompanied individuals, couples and groups of friends from the US, Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Austria, Belgium, India, Iran, Hong Kong...
Many of you have had the pleasure of having Alvaro as your guide to Mexico City's historical sites. If so, you know he is trained as a sculptor and an art historian, as well as being incredibly knowledgeable about history, art and architecture, and with a gentle warm heart who loves to share what he knows. We are lucky that Alvaro's cousin (who does not share Alvaro's aversion to computers!) has set up a blog to show Alvaro's work. The blog is in Spanish and includes information on Alvaro's background, as well as a photo gallery of his work. Or, you can go straight to the photo gallery to see a broad selection of his sculptures.
Sergio's bubbly good humor and warmth have earned him a place in the hearts of dozens of visitors to Mexico City. His wide knowledge, together with his love of the city, his flexibility and careful driving make him an invaluable partner for exploring practically any aspect of the city. And he is a photographer, too!