While the past few summer sessions have suffered with low enrollment, MexArt and Casa Carly are already seeing bosted enrollments and heavier reservations than in past years. Obviously Mexico's image has suffered over the past few years with media representation of drug wars and safety issues as widespread. Now it seems that many Americans are understanding that Mexico is very safe overall and that these danger areas, while they exist, are in specific border areas and port cities FAR from the charming, colonial town of San Miguel de Allende. Saying San Miguel is unsafe would be like saying that going to Williamsburg, VA is too dangerous because parts of New York City are dangerous.
To address the safety issues that parents may be concerned about when sending their teen to Mexico, MexArt and Casa Carly have a list of recent articles and links to blogs published about safety in this idyllic town. By logging on to MexArt or Casa Carly's facebook pages, visitors have easy access to read these articles. Of course, past participants are also happy to speak with prospective students too.
As of Feb 2012, the US State Department issued a revised warning for travel in Mexico stating that most regions are safe and specifically states that the San Miguel de Allende / Guanajuato area is free of any travel advisory.
Lonely Planet says: ‘Is it safe to go to Mexico?’ We hear that question weekly. And the answer is always yes, if you know where to go and do your research.
Despite increased reports of drug-war murders that tend to cluster in northern border zones, travel to Mexico did rise in 2010. Before brushing a Mexico trip aside this year, consider that about 245,000 square miles are free from the State Department’s warning list (for a visual, check the CNN map) and it neatly matches areas people usually visit (Cabo, Cancún, Mexico City, Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende).
Recently, the San Francisco Chronicle listed the five safest Mexican states to visit. We (Lonely Planet) would like to add to the list by zeroing in on our eight top places to visit (there are dozens of other candidates), in terms of travel appeal and safety record. None are on the US State Department’s warning list.
For more information on San Miguel and Safety, check recent articles published in:
- Conde Nast
- Travel and Leisure
- Toronto Star
- San Francisco Chronicle
- Smithsonian Mag
- AAA Travel
STUDENT SAFETY AND SUPERVISION:
Supervision: MexArt students live all together in a walled-in property with the owner's family and counseling staff. Students are well supervised throughout the day and the extent of the program. Students must attend all classes, meals, and MexArt functions (all teachers note attendance and immediately notify a director of any student who fails to attend). When ill or overly exhausted, resident counselors help to create options where the student is accounted for, safe, and supervised. We expect the highest level of program participation and cooperation from our students. For participants, being caring, responsible, and aware is the MexArt way.
Student Agreement: As stated in the Student Agreement, MexArt strives to maintain a wholesome, lighthearted, and positively creative summer community. MexArt participants in the past have been positive and cooperative with their roommates, other students and staff. In addition to the laws and respected customs of San Miguel, the MexArt rules and limits are intended to protect everyone (the participants, the program, and our surrounding community of San Miguel). In addition to the rough outline of expectations here, the rules are explained and discussed with all students on our first orientation day. The rules and limits do evolve as the program progresses, and participants are trusted to adhere to the progressive changes. Please note: MexArt reserves the right to dismiss participants from the program at their discretion and without reimbursement of any MexArt fees if a student violates the Student Agreement or endangers his safety, the safety of another participant, or the safety of the program at large. (note that the Student Agreement includes issues such as use of drugs or alcohol, attendance, regard/respect of authorities or customs.
Students who display disruptive behavior (including verbal abuse) that affects other participants may have to be sent home. We expect participants not to disrupt hotel decorun and program morale by inappropriate or insensitive behavior. It is well understood that students test limits -- MexArt allows for this within reason. MexArt does not, however, accept any fighting, dangerous roughhousing, abusive practical jokes, vulgar language, or racist/sexist remarks. Sneaking out of the hotel at night or smoking/drinking alcohol are considered dangerous to the participant and will lead to immediate expulsion.
Students: MexArt is an exclusive community to which you have been accepted. To decide to attend MexArt is a decision to not smoke, use drugs, or drink alcohol.
MexArt is geared toward the individual and is designed to help students reach their own goals. However, if you feel that there is a problem (any program or resident issues that negatively affects a student's experience), please call it to MexArt's attention immediately: (202)391-0004 or +52 (415)152-8900 or firstname.lastname@example.org MexArt hopes to work with parents to ensure that each student has a fantastic MexArt experience.
Safety Norms: San Miguel is an extremely safe community. Although there are occasional crimes, like anywhere in the world, they tend to be ones of petty theft. Assaults or other violent crimes are statistically negligible in the community. Students should feel safe! Participants do have to learn to navigate around San Miguel as they will be given the responsibility to get to/from their hotel to various points around town (i.e. art studio, dance studio, the jardin, restaurants, etc...). If a student is uncomfortable doing this, a staff member will accompany the student until the student feels confident.
Students will carry a map of San Miguel highlighting MexArt's facilities and common destinations along with contact information of the directors and counselors, important addresses and phone numbers in case of an emergency.
Arrival: A counselor or director will email parents within a few hours of the student's arrival in San Miguel to confirm the students have arrived safely on opening day.
Day Trips: While visiting the surrounding area of San Miguel and neighboring cities, students travel as an in-tact group supervised by staff members and at times accompanied by a hired guide. Transportation on these trips are provided by public transportation or privately contracted official van/guide services. Prior to departure on any day trip, students will be briefed on appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and protective measures to take based on the destination.
Parents: Parents traveling during MexArt's session dates are requested to send a detailed itinerary with emergency contact information for that period of time.