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The Adventures of the Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico!
Travel with Estela as she delivers your Ambassador Butterflies

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A Godchild for Journey North!

Months ago, in August, a rather young couple came into the store of the Romero Family, saying they were looking for Estela Romero. My mother called me. The moment I saw them, I knew I had seen them somewhere. Of course, they are living around El Rosario Sanctuary and met me there visiting the schools. Later on, we met and talked to each other at least for a couple of times at the Sanctuary. They work as guides over there. So, they came and directly told me their youngest boy, Rosario, 3 years old, was not baptized still, and wanted me to be the Godmother. I was really surprised and felt honored to get this petition for such a nice family. We agreed we would do it over the coming months, and so Rosario de Jesús was baptized on Sunday, January, 30th, 2012. It was for me a pleasure to do this. Over here, the tradition is that the Godparents (in this case, only me as Godmother, since I am not married), arranges everything at the church and the baptism attire and ornaments for the child to be worn that day.

Rosario, my Godson, is the youngest of TEN children in the family now. I feel so happy to have been honored baptizing this boy, one more fruit of my job with Journey North over these years traveling around the Sanctuaries. Three days before the baptism, my compadres told me they were without any money in this moment to offer me and my family a nice dinner at their home as gratitude for accepting to take Rosario to Church. I told them to forget about it, and to wait for better times. I know someday they will call me and tell me that they have prepared a delicious Mole or Barbacoa to enjoy together with our families. By then, I should send the corresponding photos to Journey North!!

Estela Romero with Godson Estela Romero with Godson Estela Romero with Godson
     
Estela Romero with Godson Estela Romero with Godson Estela Romero with Godson
 
José Palomares Quiroz Elementary, La Rondanilla, Ejido Angangueo, Michoacán

 

Currently, this school has only one teacher who has got to assist the six grades at the school. It is very common that a far away school often suffers from the absence of teachers and teachers left have to take over the group (s) left, until the new teacher is assigned.

 

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4th, 5th, and 6th grades Children enjoying and exchanging impressions from the different regions in Canada and USA from where they receive their letters.
Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico Children saying good bye, asking whether it would be possible for Journey North to come back again in the coming months! Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico
 
Miguel Hidalgo Elementary, La Rondanilla, Ejido Angangueo, Michoacán

Although this is a community school, it has the best facilities seen in the region. This very much depends on the principal knocking on all possible doors, looking out for material and academic help from the states.

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5th and 6th grades 3rd and 4th grades Waving good bye. Time for dinner... and what is best...it is Friday!
 
Educación y Patria Elementary, Nicolás Romero Community, Ejido Angangueo, Michoacán

 

The school's location up in the mountain is at some extent so inaccessible for the car, that, everytime I am on the way to them, I say to myself it could be the last time I visit. Once my time with the children is over and they show themselves so grateful and happy, I know that next season I will come back. Their smiles and interest in receiving their letters through Journey North more than compensates for making the long trip!

 

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Once in the mountains, and on the way up, this is a far view from the school and the most unaccessible way to go, starts exactly from this point. Estela speaking to the children about the Monarchs' migration route, the wonders of their life cycle, and the importance of our region due to our unique Oyamel forest. Child writing their letter of response to North American and Canadian children.
Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico
Even though the group is small and the many children were absent today, the trip is always worthwhile. Children waving good bye to Journey North among screams expressing gratitude and wish for the next season to come soon!  
 
Francisco I. Madero Elementary, Nicolás Romero Community, Ejido Angangueo, Michoacán

 

Every year, the tendency of population of children in some schools in certain areas of our region decreases so, that the decrease is very drastic and very contrasting to other area where the population is very dense; In case of this school where the population is very low, one wonders how the state will afford paying teachers who used to have groups of up to 30 children, working double shift a day years ago, and now, these teachers continue charging the same salary with groups reduced to around 10-15 children per group, working only one shift a day.

 

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Grades 2 - 6

 

At many schools, the Oyamel planted last year, donated by Journey North, managed to survive; in many others, not. This is an evidence of the little Oyamel planted last year surviving at this school. Children wanted to show me the evidence and proudly show their effort along the year to keep it alive. Many times, I give a ride back home to children at leaving school. This is always a pleasure. They are more than happy and while on the way, they keep rapt attention to observing my feet on the pedals of the car and the gear being moved, making a gesture of non-comprehension of what driving consists of, but never saying a word about it.
 
Octavio Paz, "Palo Amarillo" community, Ejido San José del Rincón, Mexico


Only 20 years ago, it was impossible for any child ending his elementary school studies in the surrounding communities of the Sanctuaries, to think about the possibility to continue any other possible opportunity of education. Nowadays, for at least 15 years, children in most communities have the chance to, at the most, take a means of transportation and reach their secondary or preparatory school in the next 30-45 minutes. Life conditions have definately changed for this areas in our region.

 

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Children writing their letters of response
to North American and Canadian friends.

 

Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico

Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico

Most times children come with me back to the car expressing their wish for the return of Journey North next season. At the back, you can see their school and the small church in the village.

 

Niños Héroes, "Palo Amarillo" community, Ejido San José del Rincón, Mexico

 

Most of the schools visited across the border belonging to the San José del Rincón Ejido, around the Chincua Sanctuary, are located in the state of México. They have a much better level of academical education in all ways. Up to now, in all schools, the part of the letter which children definately most enjoy telling to US and Canadian children is that where they speak about their favorite Mexican dishes and their favorite season in the year. The highlight of the letter for them to their counterparts In US and Canada is to have them guess and investigate the different and most spoken dialects in our country. They rub their hands of emotion to imagine how interesting and surprised children receiving their letters will find this part!. They notice the way we should be proud of having such a rich country in traditions and pre-hispanic history!

 

Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico

Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico

Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico
An impression of the school.

4th grade

 
Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico At the end of the visit, children crowd themselves offering to help me to carry back the box with their letters, flags and map back to the car and from there, to wave good bye to me. It is incredible how I conquer their faces and sensibility with only two or three hours being at their school every year!

5th and 6th grade

Children decided to get their photo in this point outside their classroom to show the way they were successful with a project months ago, finding a way to use wheels of cars in a creative way not damaging the environment. They were recognized by the goverment state at using wheels like resistant, decorative pots for planting ornamental plants in their garden. They destined one of this to plant their Oyamel tree donated by Journey North this season!

 
 


11 de Julio, "Palo Amarillo" community, Ejido San José del Rincón, Mexico

 

This was the first school built and opened in this and the surrounding communities around 55 years ago. At the beginning it was only a wooden classroom constructed by the Mining Company in Angangueo (An american company "American Smelting and Refining Co.) having mining facilities in the community, a woman teacher --still living-- was provided in that time for people in the community to learn to read and write. My mother attended school here and learned to read and write among a group of about 15 other teens then. That was the maximum possibility of education until 20 years ago in the area and its surroundings. For many years, The teacher was paid by the Mining company then, not by the state.

 

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An impression of the school. At break time. Some children still bringing in the toys they received in the "Three Kings Day", last January 6th.  
Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico

4th. and 5th. grades

6th grade Two o'clock. Time to go back home, to join the family and to have dinner together.
 
Pedro Ascencio, Garatachea Community, Ejido San José del Rincón, Mexico

 

For perhaps as many years as Journey North has visited schools in our region, we have visited this school. Being a teacher or a student here means being in very special circumstances, because, since it was created as a UNI-GRADE SCHOOL, due to the limited amount of children in the community then, and to the decrease of the original population in it, the school has only one teacher assigned, one classroom and a unique daily class where 1st. to 6th. grades should be taught all subjects by the same teacher. The challenges the teacher and the students meet is not little, and not common; Fortunately, this school belongs to the state of México's regulations and budget, which standards in Academical education and frequent and recognized training and checking-up on their teachers at all levels is being highly recognized in the country. So, teacher and children seem to get on with their daily task, year after year in a unique, really good way. It should be mentioned that this is perhaps one of the still very few cases of schools still remaining this way for this state who is far beyond its progress in education compared with the three poorest states in the country in this aspect (Chiapas, Oaxaca and Michoacán).

 

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An impression of the school. Estela addressing the children's attention to speak about Monarchs' habitat, the singularities of the Oyamel tree for Monarchs. The children testing their knowledge about the Monarchs' life cycle.
Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico
Chidren writing their letters of response
to their North American and Canadian counterparts.
Group photo
Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico
Mario and his best friend, Carlos, proudly showing their letters of response to the ones they have just received from their North American and Canadian pals.

Chidren excitedly enjoying and sharing what Canadian and US children have written to them!

Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico

Saying goodbye

The visit comes to its end. Children love to take me back to the car with my accessories. At saying good-bye, my throat closes and words just cannot come out. I try not to be so emotional. I do not know how to express to them the way they are significant to my work, to the project, and to their community and to our country. For some seconds, we kept staring to each other, knowing that we would like to stay much longer together, and perhaps we both parties imagine how fun it would be like to be together every day. Today, I have told them I love them, and they've told me back they love me. A very deep and special connection goes on for several seconds, until we are able to find a more relieving way to say good bye. They and I have both promised time will fly and we will see in only one more year again. That sounds relieving for both parties, and then it is much easier for me to start the car and for them now to run back to their classrooms happily screaming and whistling.

 
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