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Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico
By Estela Romero

Gallery 4
Overview | One | Two | Three | Four | Five

 
Octavio Paz Junior High Palo Amarillo Community, Sierra Chincua Sancturary area

This Junior High School bears the name of one of our most famous writers "Octavio Paz", whose books (available in English, by the way), result of high interest both for Mexican and Foreigners to read.

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Approaching the school grounds. School grounds. First year students display their beautiful butterflies.
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First year students excited to examine their Ambassador butterflies. Lots to enjoy. Is this your class butterfly?
About the school:
Most children of the communities around the area come to the Junior High school to continue their studies after elementary level, which is not easy. Many live far away, and there is no public transportation available. It becomes a great sacrifice for parents to get private transportation for their children; however many manage to attend, and finish this three-year term, as well.
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Students love this project. Second year students and their butterflies. The class also received some books!
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Inside the second year classroom. Kids are the same around the world! Showing what they know about monarchs.
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Composing thoughts for their letters. The third year students (oldest children in the school). Receiving their Ambassador butterflies.
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Is she holding your class butterfly? A new book for their library! Students show lots of interest in monarch conservation.
School School This school is located only about hundred meters from where one of the main points of the mining project in this area will be located.
Physical fitness time. Snack time. The "v" sign is a casual way of saying "hello."
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The country side-including old facilities of the former mining company. Within the next months this will be totally renewed by the new mining company "Grupo México". Old mine area.
 
Emiliano Zapata Elementary La Trinidad Community, Sierra Chincua Sancturary area,
Estado de México
Journey North visits this school for the first time. A teacher formerly teaching in another school, moved here and shared this Journey North project with her Director. Last year they hoped to participate, but there weren't enough Symbolic Monarchs that season.
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Entrance to the school which teaches students in 5th and 6th grades.   Courtyard inside school area.
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Sixth grade "B" students. Do you see your butterfly? Sixth grader "A" group. Fifth graders all together.
These students have never been a part of Journey North Symbolic Migration,so the students give their rapt attention to learn about the life cycle. Just after the discussion they are very excited to receive their Symbolic Monarchs and letters form Canadian and North American Children. School view School view
Receiving their Symbolic Monarchs and letters form Canadian and North American children.
School view School view

School view

Sixth graders wanted to know all about their new friends; "Do they speak Spanish?...Do they live in big cities?...How long does it take to reach this or that city?...Will they ever come visit us?...How well do they care for monarchs in their forests?"
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The next class of 6th grade has their turn learning about monarchs. ...and receiving their Ambassador butterflies.  
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  Now fifth graders study the life cycle using a little guide written in Spanish.  
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They label parts of the monarch and write letters about themselves.   Do you see your butterfly?
In this school, children and teachers expressed that this is the first time they get a so carefully, thorough and official description of what Monarchs' life is and the highly important role of preservation the three hosting countries play for their survival. School view School view
   
 
Miguel Hidalgo Elementary San Jerónimo Pilitas, Sierra Chincua Reserve
This school is located at the core of the Reserve of Monarch Butterflies in Sierra Chincua. This community has lived for generations by wood cutting, and all families have relatives working in USA.
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View of the school. All students together, grades 4, 5, and 6. Whole group gives close attention to what a classmate shares. The students know about Monarch's life-cycle because of Journey North's message about Monarchs' miraculous life-cycle.
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Next, the whole group reflect and deeply enjoy writing their letters proudly sharing their culture, daily life and future dreams to their Canadian and North-American counterparts. This is a unigrade school, and all students enjoy receiving, for the third consecutive year, a letter and Ambassador monarch from their counterparts in the North. Compared to three years ago, they now feel that Monarchs take a very important part of their surroundings, and that the forests around are a real treasure making theirs a unique region in the world.
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Students ask whether the other kids might know about this or that Mexican dish, this or that Mexican game, or whether they will have similar dream as their's. Very nosey about what life in those two countries also sponsoring Monarchs could be like.

Such a small school! Do you see your Ambassador butterfly?

 
Adolfo López Mateos Junior High San Jerónimo Pilitas Community, Sierra Chincua Reserve
The small village, San Jerónimo Pilitas is located well way into the forest. ; on the way, a sign reading an official authorization for wood cutting is hanging for authorities and else interested to know.
School approach

School approach

School approach
We travel through the forest to reach the school The community. The Jr. High school is small, and only a couple years old.
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Can you find which student is holding your butterfly? Inside the school. The students and community see this school as a sign of progress for the village and area.
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The excitement of opening their butterflies.    
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  Easy and great fun for them to enjoy sharing about their lives, goals in the future and describing their traditions and daily life in their letters with their counterparts.
School approach School approach On the way to the school, traveling through the forest, we see this sign. It is a warning: Anyone who removes wood from this forest without a permit of authorization could be hanged!
Students everywhere are the same! Can you read the Spanish?  
 
Emiliano Zapata Elementary "Pancho Maya" Community, Near Sierra Chincua Reserve
The conditions and life of this school and village is exactly the same as those for San Jerónimo Pilitas community (see above). This is a "uni-grade" school where all students 1st-6th grade are taught together.
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Students playing in a clearing by the school, which lies deep into the forest. The school building. Ambassador butterflies held by the students.
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Learning more about monarchs. Reading about life-cycle A chance to hold and play with the monarch larva (caterpillar) model.
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  The students are thrilled to see the Ambassador butterflies. Each one carries messages of good will.
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Each butterfly is different! Students sharing about themselves and their customs.  
 
Vicente Guerrero Elementary Cevatí, Community. "Sierra Chincua" Reserve
(Way deep inside the forest.)
Estela's note*, "For me, visiting this far away schools makes my experience a lot more special because these children have a very special sensibility. Their closeness to nature is something unique. When we discuss that it is in my generation's and their generations' hands to decide about the future of Monarchs, they immediatly express their determination to learn more and to preserve the monarchs. In writing their letters, some seem to reassure themselves about how important our talk is."
School

School

School
Arriving at the school on a frosty cold morning.

In this location, every morning it is cold. This year, especially. It is beautiful, but not for the children, who in a great mayority, do not have the proper clothing to wear and be warm and comfortable at school. We have no way of heating our living, school or working spaces. We just get adjusted to it.

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The sun came out and the students share their butterflies! Students listen in amazement as they learn about the monarch life-cycle.
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  Is this YOUR butterfly?
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Pedro Ascencio Elementary Caratachea Community (Located next to the entrance to Sierra Chincua Reserve.)
Pedro Ascencio is a "uni-grade" school. All the children from 1st to 6th grade share a classroom. What do you think might be the advantages and disadvantages of a classroom like this? Look around inside and outside the school.
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The school is located at the border of states; Michoacan and Mexico. View of the school. Can you see your butterfly?
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Community is right in Sierra Chincua.   A big playground.
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  Inside the classroom.  
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The students are thrilled with their butterflies. The library. This is the third year this school has participated in the exchange.
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    The students understand the importance of preserving the monarch habitat.
 
Benito Juárez Elementary Las Jaras Community, Near Sierra Chincua Reserve
This is a school as few others visited during the season as a uni-grade school, which has only 8 students, all of them attending a different grade with an only teacher, in a single classroom. As mentioned before, not easy for the teacher in charge. For Journey North it does not matter the number of students at every school, but the fact itself that all children living around the Sanctuaries get a special sensibility about the unique fact of being the region chosen by Monarchs to overwinter and preserve its own species.
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The school in the distance. View on the way to school. As you can see, it is high up in the volcanic mountains of the region.
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Eight students fill this school. Do you see your butterfly? Who has it? Students hurry into the school when they learn Journey North has arrived! Everyone is eager to contribute to the discussion.
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Students get careful lesson about the migration and life-cycle. Using models to learn about the life cycle. And now, the sharing of the Ambassador butterflies!
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Opening their letters coming from USA and Canada, and thrilled to try to read in English, --at least some words or short sentences!
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  This girl was really excited to read aloud what she wrote to her Northern pal. For children it is real excitment to write their own letters of response to their friends in North America and Canada compromising themselves to sponsor Monarchs in the best way during their overwintering time in the season.
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Scenes from this area: The red gate is the entrance to Benito Juárez school. Families make some income from selling milk. Here the woman is taking her milk into Angangueo to sell.
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In most schools, children ask if I am handing over their letters directly back to North America and Canada and wonder how I reach there. When I explain to them the "logistics" having to be arranged so that each letter reaches them, and then the similar way in which each of their letters goes back to their foreign counterparts, they open their eyes and mouths widely, finding it incredible the long distance their letters fly and are driven to Angangueo.

"Our letters fly and survive as long a distance and face as many challenges as Monarchs do to arrive to us," --some said wisely.
 
 
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