So Kids May Learn / Mexico
I'm a woman from North America who has always loved Mexico and its people, especially their children who contain the promise of its future. It's no surprise that I now find myself living in the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Upon moving to Colonia Obraje I began to intimately learn what these children's lives are all about and witness the daily situations and challenges in which they live. Here, the majority of these loving families struggle daily to provide basic needs, such as clean water, food, clothing and health care.
This is where I met Señora Alma Lopez , a mother who has touched my heart deeply. She is a sincere and dedicated woman, who like any mother has concerns for the future of her two young sons, ages 4 and 8. Because of this she requested that I come into her home and help her eldest son learn English, knowing that this ability would help her children in the future. Since I was already interacting with the kids on the street and teaching them English phrases, I was grateful for the invitation to create a more structured classroom environment for those who would be interested. Too often I have seen that the accepted teaching model requires the child to come to us for learning instead of us bringing education to them. I believe that learning becomes more personal and powerful when it is presented within their own environment. This has already proven to be a valuable asset in setting a foundation on which to assist these young lives and has proven to be a consistent factor of regular participation in class.
For two years I have been teaching these children English in Alma's home twice a week. Classes began with 2 students and quickly grew to 11 in a short time. I teach boys and girls from 5-16 years of age free of charge, who often bring their mothers to sit in on the lessons.
To encourage and support these children towards a life long learning process, your donation would greatly enhance their instruction. It is a fact that the majority of better paying jobs in San Miguel de Allende are offered to individuals who can speak English. By giving children these skills and support, their self respect grows and in turn the possibilities of what they may be able to achieve in their lives.
With your help, efforts can be made to improve their educational development and communicative skills. To do this we need the basics in materials such as:
1. A new table and chairs. The table and chairs we currently use have broken a few times during class!
2. School supplies which include English books, pencils, paper and copy fees for teaching materials.
3. Healthy snacks provided at the beginning of each class with nutritional education. Mexico suffers the highest percentage of diabetics in the world.
4. Field trips to cultural places of learning in San Miguel de Allende.
5. Financial assistance for public school costs such as enrollement fees and school uniforms.
Any size donation would be used to ensure the next step made in these young lives. Please consider who you might also know who would be interested in helping these promising young minds. A child's knowledge is the beginning of the world's wisdom.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
With hope in hand,
With great disappointment the Obraje neighborhood English school is no longer able to function as it’s own separate entity. This is due to a loss of our donated classroom space. We were very fortunate to have had the use of an unfinished construction site for over a year! It was instrumental in providing English courses for both parents and children who were taught by Lorie and I.
Currently we are discussing what steps to take in the future for our students. At present their seems to be very little options other than returning to the homes we originally began teaching in. Yet due to the number of students we have been working with, almost 30, this makes it impossible. We would like to thank all of you who have sent your best wishes for success. We will keep you posted as soon as we find out more options.
It is amazing what we learn as children. We see ourselves so often in those around us, in the choices others make and the lives they live. In an effort to bring the wisdom and courage of those who have successfully fought to maintain their dreams, we recently brought another amazing speaker to our neighborhood school.
Most of the children in Obraje only know Iliana González as one of their superb Taekwondo teachers. They see her commitment, compassion and support, but what that did not realize was that she is also an architect and mother of two! We are so appreciative for her willingness to be one of our guests for the INSPIRED LEARNING SERIES.
Iliana’s story is one of overcoming challenges and finding the desire to succeed. She began her talk by telling us that when she was a little girl she was extremely shy. This opened the eyes of many of our students who often hide in their own silence. When she was asked to talk in school she said she would trembled from fright. Quickly the students felt her pain and could instantly relate to how it affects so many of them. However as a young timid girl, Iliana thankfully found passion in playing sports. She was introduced to Taekwondo, a Martial Arts practice from Korea, and she fell in love with the discipline and inner strength that could be had. Here she gained purpose and confidence, two vital elements that would serve her for the rest of her life. At that time though, she was also the only girl in her studio class! This opened her eyes to the facts of a world she knew she would have to work hard to change. Today Iliana is a powerful women in grace and beauty and wears a 2do Dan Black Belt as she patiently takes our children through their paces. For them she is also a role model, teacher, friend and proof that endurance is just as much an inner practice as it is an outer necessity.
During her talk the students asked her why she choose to study architecture. She recounted that her father was a civil engineer and always had rulers and tools that she liked to play with. He was a major influence in her life and supported her decision to study architecture. But once again Iliana found herself as the only woman studying architecture at the university. As a young adult and already a mother of two she knew how important it was for her to get this degree. Her parents were always by her side and empowered her to follow her heart. This was vital in Iliana's success in reaching her goals and gave her command in becoming who she is today.
At the end of Ilaina's amazing talk she asked the children to identify their own futures. What were their ambitions for their lives? Answers ranged from Fashion Designer, Soldier, Accountant, Doctor, to even a young girl saying she wanted to be President in order to help the less fortunate. Why not? It is with hope that all my students can reach for their dreams.
Who was Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo, Milton Hershey? Who is Malala Yousafzai? Hopefully these 5 new biographies will inspire my ESL students to aim higher and overcome life's many challenges.
For our next inspired learning series students will be interviewing architect Illiana Glez., who is also a Taekwondo martial arts instructor. We are very lucky to have Illiana volunteering her time teaching our neighborhood children self- defense twice a week.
In an effort to expand and inspire student knowledge, we are attempting to enrich the out of classroom experience for the children of Obraje. The concept is simple, to engage prosperity in a single individual through the success of others. For this purpose students meet and interview a diverse group of professionals, whose real life stories share the triumphs and struggles of success. We begin this process together by brainstorming detailed questions at the heart of achievement, and what it means to strive past such challenges as loss and poverty. We then spend a couple of classes practicing our questions in english in order to acquire the confidence necessary to approach these important leaders of our community.
Their first interview was with our local Cantera carver, Alfredo and his staff of workers. This formidable craft relays the rich history of stone in the history of Mexico and what it takes to merge elements of identity by hand. From intricate fountains to doorways, to saints and nichos, these artisans carry on a rich tradition over many generations. This eye opening experience taught our children about hard work in the heat of summer to the bone numbing cold of winter and what it means to persevere for the sake of family and the future of their children.
Our latest interview was with Gerardo Arteaga, one of the owners of Muro Cafeteria, a local OBRAJE hot spot for great Mexican food. Gerardo was very gracious serving the students hot chocolate and cookies during his interview. The children learned first hand of his personal struggles in school and what it took for him to overcome them. They were inspired to live life doing what they loved and to create a future for themselves that embraced their passions.
We hope that these continued talks will help young minds discover what is possible within themselves. Their intelligence grows to the degree of inspiration that surrounds them and we are grateful for the rich abundance of wisdom that our speakers bring to their lives.