How to Build Empathy in Mexico

How building a house with like-minded people increases our resilience.

Part of building resilience entails developing empathy. Some do it by reading or listening to stories of people sharing the challenges they have faced. Others do it through service projects. Quarterly, The Greatness Foundation hosts service trips to Ensenada, Mexico where along with a group, including families, single people and couples, build houses from the ground up and visit communities to deliver basic needs.

Family recipient for The Greatness Foundation house-build.

The community, just two hours south of the San Diego border, is made up of indigenous people who have migrated from Oaxaca, Mexico. They live in dilapidated housing, often made from tarps and cardboard. Some live in horse stalls, exchanging field labor for housing. Many of them trek miles through fields to Campo Esperanza, a faith-based service center where locals can access resources, including hot meals.

Earlier this year, I traveled there with a young woman I mentored through my work with Women Wonder Writers, as a means of helping teach her empathy. It is a similar solution to what many high schools do in requiring students to participate in community service or what religious groups and missionaries do in hosting youth service projects. We are privileged as Americans, and oftentimes due to capitalism and parenting styles combined with media influences, our worth becomes measured through materialism and personal achievement.

Service trips help us see outside ourselves and empathize with people who seem different from us and are faced with extreme hardship. When we visit where people come from and what their journey was, we judge less. We criticize less. We create solutions instead of complaints. We begin to ask “what happened to them?” instead of “what is wrong with them?” We stop demanding they pull themselves up by their bootstraps. We begin to measure our worth in service instead of consumerism. That is empathy.

The Greatness Foundation Founder Mike Sherbakov, along with his team has built out these purpose-driven service trips, collaborating with Baja Bound. But even more than just a service trip, they are unique travel experiences, partly based on the people attracted to the journey and the intention behind them. Mike learned the importance of integrity, honor and hard work during his time on active duty as a United States Marine. He is passionate about optimizing human potential and lives out his, “Be more. Do more. Give more,” mantra.

Whether you are a family, mentor, couple or solo-traveler looking for a full empathetic immersion along with a like-minded tribe, check out the next house-build by visiting The Greatness Foundation website.