Work Assignments

Charlie and I started our Peace Corps work assignments at the beginning of December.  The program here in Mexico is a little different than in other countries, since they seek experienced volunteers to work at two Mexican agencies, either CONACYT (responsible for science and technology issues) or SEMARNAT (responsible for environmental issues). We have both been assigned to one of the CONACYT centers (CIATEQ) here in Querétaro.  CIATEQ is an advanced technology center, which was created in 1978 and is dedicated to technology research, development and innovation to enhance Mexican industry’s competitiveness.  The staff is divided among engineers (48%), technicians (15%), finance, planning and project management (15%) and contract employees (22%).    

The office is only a 15 minute walk from our apartment, so no public transportation is needed.  We usually get to work around 9:00am, work until 2:00pm and then take 1½ hours off for “comida” (lunch).  There are several restaurants close by that serve “comida corrida” (lunch on the run), where you get soup, rice or spaghetti, a main dish (enchiladas, chicken with mole, etc) and a drink for 35 pesos (about $3).  The food is very good and you certainly can’t beat the price.  After lunch, we return to work around 3:30pm and continue to work until 6:30pm.

My assignment is with the Planning Department at CIATEQ, where I am helping them expand their focus into the aviation industry.  CIATEQ and the other two CONACYT centers here in Querétaro are actively trying to get into the Mexican aviation market.  A number of U.S. and foreign companies are building assembly and parts facilities here in Querétaro, including Bombardier.  Bombardier has plans to assemble its Learjet 85 here, which has caused a lot of excitement with the local government and the CONACYT centers here.  The three centers have a plan to build a joint aeronautical laboratory to produce products for the industry, but they’re unsure what specific products would be most useful.  Over the coming months, I will be helping with a market study which will assess the aviation industry in Mexico and a promotion strategy to market their products and services.  It should be very interesting, since a lot of government attention and money is being focused on the aviation sector now.

Charlie’s assignment is with the Finance Department.  His first task is to review the center’s financial statements and suggest improvements, as well as standardize presentations to senior managers.  He is also pursuing a secondary project with a local non-profit organization.

Our building is the headquarters office for five CIATEQ centers.  The staff at our center numbers about 300 employees in a building that is two stories tall.   There are also a couple of outlying buildings used for research and technology development.  While we don’t have a cafeteria, we do have a snack bar with a few tables.  At work, we can wear uniforms.  Each CIATEQ employee gets two light blue plaid shirts, two dark blue plaid shirts, two pairs of camel pants and two pairs of navy blue pants.  There are specific days to wear the different combinations, but not everyone does.

Charlie and I each have a counterpart, who answers our questions and helps us with our assignments.  My counterpart’s name is Karina Martinez and she couldn’t be nicer.  She even took me to a beauty salon she knows to get my hair cut.  Héctor Snyder is Charlie’s counterpart and has also been very helpful to him.  

With winter setting in here, the temperatures are getting colder.  Since none of the buildings here have central heating, the employees sit at their desks with their coats and scarves on.  The buildings retain the cold even when the temperatures warm up during the day, and so coats are still needed inside.  At home, we have a space heater that we move from room to room when needed.  It’s a good thing that our apartment is small!!

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One Response to “Work Assignments”

  1. Julia Collins Says:

    Wow…my students are testing so I had a block of time to read your first blog. Whew…So much information and so many wonderful experiences. Thanks for sharing. I showed the photos to some of my students who are from Mexico and El Salvador. Keep up your good work. (You may remember that I teach ESL. I don’t use the web much as we are directed to use district-wide texts.) I’m sure your Spanish is getting better too!!
    Had a good visit with Barbara (from Italy trip) in DC. Dottie had a family emergency. Of course, my visit with my daughter, son-in-law and adorable two year old grandson was splendid! Julia Collins

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