My name is Kenny McCambridge. I moved from Cleveland OH, and my role is Site Staff. I’ve been on staff with Back2Back for about 10 Months.
1. Why did you go/join Back2Back?
My wife, Anna, had been involved with Back2Back since she and her family took their first trip in 2006. When we met in college, I knew Back2Back was a huge part of her life and I had always told her I thought it was a great cause, and I loved her heart for it, but I have no interest in moving to Mexico, nor will I ever. For some reason she still liked me and after getting married I came on my first mission trip down here with her and had the chance to meet our sponsor child whom Anna had sponsored since 2011. He and I hit it off even though I spoke zero Spanish and am horrendous at soccer. We spent every minute we could together and towards the end of the week, with the help of google translate, he started asking me a lot of questions like “How do you know what you want to be when you grow up?”, “how do you know who you should date or marry?” and I realized the work that was being done in Monterrey with Back2Back was far beyond what I had imagined. My expectations were I’d come down to Mexico, build something, and leave someone else to take care of it after we left. The depth of care I witnessed flipped my idea of a short-term mission trip upside down. The questions our sponsor child asked showed me that not only could we be the difference for him in some capacity, but we could make the difference for many more. I had not felt like I was “home” in a long time, but the entire week I was in Monterrey, I felt it. I told Anna that I thought we were supposed to move down here… she was an easy sell!
2. What have you learned since you’ve lived on the field?
I think I’ve had to learn how to care for myself. Learning how to rest and how that looks personally has been a real learning curve when the lines between work and life are often blurry. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how much you work, there will still be more to be done.
3. Share a funny/embarrassing moment when the culture you’re familiar with was met with new cultural traditions?
I work hard to use Spanish every chance I get so I can practice. This has led to me saying some really nonsensical or incorrect things without knowing. We spent our first month at language school in Oaxaca living with an elderly woman named Tico. Tico spoke zero English, which meant it was sink or swim when it came to conversations with her. One night I ate some street food that led to me being bed/ bathroom ridden, and the next morning when I went in for breakfast, Tico asked, “Como sientes?” (how do you feel?) I responded very confidently “Siento mucho mujer!”… the correct response would be “Siento mucho major” (I feel much better.) Instead I had said, “I feel much more woman!” Tico laughed pretty hard and curtsied to me.
4. What’s something from the culture you live in that you’ll keep with you forever?
Always take time for the people you work with. As Americans, we jump straight into work and meetings. I’ve learned to intentionally schedule time into meetings to catch up and see how others are because not only does it build the relationship, the things in their life heavily influence their work so it’s good to be in tune with them!
*also, offer a piece of your street food to a stray dog before eating. If the dog won’t eat it, you shouldn’t either.