I am proud to present! It was truly a great group effort and we have a lot of be proud of. This morning all of the iMedia fly-in groups came together to present their fly-in projects. It was great to see so much talent in one room. Everyone kept joking about it being a competition, but in the end, each group had a successful project that met their client’s needs. That was the goal of the project and everyone went above and beyond to meet their goals.

The iMexico team create a brand for Academia Natanael that can help them to grow to the next stage of their work. Jessica and Charity presented the site, videos, and our process this morning. There was a big logo unveil and we ended by playing Charity’s amazing PR video, which can be viewed here.

Academia Natanael logo unveil

I also had the chance to create a video for the site. I compiled the best answers to the question, what does hope mean to you and created a short video. While we are still waiting on subtitles, I think it is a nice way to show how important hope is in the mission. You can view the video here.

I am looking forward to seeing what Kyle thinks of the site. I hope it helps develop the mission and purpose to Academia Natanael! Esperanza!


Design Team Unites!

When we made it back to Elon it was time to get to work on the website, videos, branding, and more! The Design Team started on wireframes right away. We also locked in our color scheme so we could establish the Academia Natanael brand.

We looked to the photos we took on the trip for inspiration. I gathered a lot of different images from our trip and created color pallets from the photos. The Team then went through and selected to colors we thought best described the Academy brand. We ended up with a color palette filled with a vibrant red, green, blue, and yellow. It represented the bright colors of the Yucatan and still had a childlike quality.

Color palette ideas

Once our color palette and wireframes were locked in, we went to work on Photoshop mockups of the site. Charity, Cassie, and I were each responsible for creating one. The design team then came together and worked together to create one vision.

When we were happy with the mockup, we presented it to the rest of the iMexico Team. Everyone loved the look so Daniel started the process of coding the site. He did an amazing job and worked with us to make sure everything was prefect. He brought our vision to life perfectly!

A peak at my first website mockup

Once the development of the website started, it was time to work on videos and photos. It was fun to look through the photos and videos and relive some of the great memories of Mexico! Create the site design was a lot of work, but I learned I love doing web design. I was also lucky I had such a great group to work with.

Final website mockup

Saying Goodbye

We made the local paper, El Peso!

The 10 days in Mexico went very quickly. We saw so much, met so many great people, and at so much wonderful food! It was a sad goodbye, but we were excited to go back and start on the project for Academia Natanael.

We had so many adventures! From long van rides, to the tit-a-whirl of death, to sketching games, and @MexicanSnoFlake! We explored 2,000 year old pyramids and learned about Mayan culture, we even learned a few Mayan words! We designed a beautiful logo and so much more.

I am so happy I had the chance to visit Yucatan, Mexico. The culture is so rich and vibrant. It was great to step away from the tourist hot spots and see the real Mexico. I hope that people understand that Mexico is an amazing country that has gotten a bad wrap.

Working with the children at Academia Natanael helped me to step back from my technology driven life. I do not need to be on Twitter or Facebook 24/7. I need to embrace the environment that is around me and enjoy the here and now.

We headed back to the U.S., but of course not without an adventure. Charity and I almost missed our flight, but me made it with a few minuets to spare. I carried the shotgun mic on 3 previous flights, but the security in Chicago had many questions about it. Luckily they finally decided I could bring it on and not miss my flight! Hooray! Back to Elon we went to start on our project!

Helped with a WordPress workshop, photo compliments of Max Negin

Until next time, Mexico!

More Mexican adventures

Before we had to say good bye to Mexico completely, we had the chance to visit a few more hot spots on the Yucatan peninsula. On our journey back to Cancun, we stopped by Chichen-Itza. I learned it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

It was an extremely beautiful day, the sun was shining over Chichen-Itza. We had a great tour guide that shared his knowledge with us as we walked around the site that was built over 1,500 years ago. After the tour of the main pyramid, ball court, and a few other buildings, we had time to explore on our own. I walked down to a cenote, which is a deep fresh water pool. On our way back, there were many vendors. I purchased a few skulls and a beautiful Mayan blouse. They are great keepsakes of my trip to the Yucatan.

After our time a Chichen-Itza, we headed back to Cancun. We had some time to go to the beach and play in the surf. We had a great time writing Elon in the sand many times over. After our beach time, we had a fabulous seafood dinner on the water in honor of last night and Kate’s birthday! I had a lovely lobster bisque and shrimp salad. Yum!

On our last morning in Mexico, we went to the beach to see the sunrise. It was early, but well worth it. The view was stunning. I can’t wait to see my next Mexican sunrise!

Temple of Kukulkan

Final sunrise

Traveling the Yucatan

Ready for another Mexican adventure in the beloved van

While visiting Academia Natanael, we also had the opportunity to travel around the Yucatan. We visited many different cities, including Izamal, the yellow city, and the capital of the Yucatan, Merida. Both cities were beautiful and exciting to explore.

The city of Izamal was about 30 minuets from Cacalchen. We had a lot of time to explore the old Mayan city. There was a pyramid, Kinich Kak Mo, which is dedicated to the sun god, build in the Early Classic period (AD 400-600). It was fun to climb to the top, since we knew we would not be able to get to the top a pyramid at Chichen-Itza.

After touring the town, we had a great classic Yucatan meal. I enjoy panuchos, a classic Yucatan dish. After lunch, Jessica and I explored Izamal. We walked around and took many photos. We spoke to some lovely locals and soaked in the culture.

Pyramid Kinich Kak Mo

The group in front of the Franciscan Monastery San Antonio de Padua, built in 1561

The other Yucatan city we visited was Merida, which is the capital of the Yucatan. Merida is modern city, complete with many McDonalds, Walmart, and Sam’s Club. Despite the modernity, the downtown square was beautiful and reminded me of a classic Mexican city.

In the center of town there was a large square with vendors and performers. We were lucky to listen to a mariachi band and salsa dance in the street. We also visited the Governors’ Mansion and viewed murals, which told the stories of locals. I hope to visit Merida again, there was so much culture there and so little time!

Catedral de San Ildefonso (1598)

The market at Merida

Design Team

Design team office

Despite all of the fun I had playing with students and sampling local cuisine, a lot of work was done as well. I am the art director on the design team. While in Mexico, the design team brainstormed together and worked with Kyle to create a site architecture and logo. Working under the beautiful Yucatan sun made it even better.

One of our goals before was to create a new logo for Academia Natanael. Creating the logo was a team effort. We started with many ideas and iterations before deciding on a logo we were 100% happy with.

We originally planned to work with the logo the center had and add a Mayan twist to it. The original school logo was of students reading under a tree. We first started to work with a tree and a Mayan pyramid. We worked through our ideas, but nothing stood out to us. When we visited Merida, I saw the government logo and new we had to change our focus. 

We had three words that needed to be incorporated into the logo, hope, love, and education. Hope was the biggest buzz word at the academy. How could we incorporate that into a logo?

As we brainstormed, we knew that the sun inspired us everyday and was a good symbol of hope. We knew that we could incorporate the bright colors of the area into a sun logo. It ended up being a great compromise. We also added a heart to the center of our sun, to include the element of love. Kyle said many times, without hope and love, education cannot be. It was a perfect symbol. We are all very proud of our work on it.

Image compliments of Max Negin

It was great when we presented to Kyle, he instantly liked the logo. We now are working to incorporate the logo and other elements we have designed into the website.

Working with Kate, Cassie, and Charity has been great. Everyone is respectful and listens to everyone’s ideas. People are kind, even if your idea is not the greatest. I can only hope for great co-workers like these ladies in the future!

Logo presentation

The Kids of Cacalchen

A lovely photo taken by a student at Academia Natanael

While journeying to a rural village in Mexico is an experience in itself, one thing I loved about the trip was working with the students at Academic Natanael. Despite the conditions many students lived in, were always full of joy and ready to play at a moments notice!

I was able to visit a few local homes in Cacalchen and the conditions broke my heart. It seems like everyone sleeps in hammocks because there is not enough room for a normal bed and I am sure they are expensive as well. Many families do not have indoor plumbing, therefore, no bathroom and kitchen like I am used it. Kyle at the academy has many ideas to help improve the lives of families in the Yucatan. There are plans to build roofs and bathrooms for many families, so they can live more comfortably and safely.

One challenge of working with the students was my inability to speak Spanish. I took Spanish in high school over ten years ago. In between I took Italian, which did not help my Spanish speaking ability. I did surprise myself and was able to understand more than I expected, but my speaking skills are not up to par with many of my fellow iMedia students.

The kids loved playing with our equipment, especially iPhones, iPods, and digital cameras. Once you let one take a photo or play a game, it was hard to get it back! It seemed like every time I turned a corner, there was a student running around with their new found toy. Luckily, the kids enjoyed the equipment and nothing was broken.

Go Verde! Go!One experience I really enjoyed was being the leader of Team Verde on Friday morning. We played my different team building games. I cheered the kids on and helped them go in the proper order. I also go to participate in the games, such as the three-legged race. I was especially good when I had to catch balls in a bucket that was on my head. Despite the fact my team did not win, it was a lot of fun working closely with the kids.

The students of Academia Natanael

Despite the language barrier, the students were not afraid to interact with me. I learned so much about the children by observing them and attempting to communicate with them. I hope by next time I visit Mexico I will be able to communicate much better than this trip.