This past week our group was welcomed into the rural town of Amatlάn de Quetzalcoatl. It was an absolutely amazing experience that opened my eyes to many things. The sense of community that resonated throughout the town was a powerful component to their culture. This overwhelming collectiveness amongst family, friends and neighbors was visually obvious as I watched them give thanks and appreciation to the things that are taken for granted in daily life. This observation left me questioning how many daily privileges and rights do I often overlook?
|Roadway in Amatlan|
The importance of togetherness was exemplified most often around the kitchen table. Here I cherished the moments I spent with my host family laughing, making homemade tortillas and tamales, and discussing various topics related to life in Amatlάn. One conversation in particular settled deep within my mind and heart after learning about the education system within Amatlάn and the surrounding Mexican municipalities. Education is mandatory for children and adolescence through high school, but more often than not it is not reinforced. This lack of follow-through is just one challenge the schools face. Other obstacles are lack of funding, lack of resources such as necessary class materials, and the disconnect between the government focus and the actual school needs.
|Public Elementary School|
What surprised and saddened me most is how much time and money the parents needed to commit in order for their child to attend school. In addition to the daily requirements such as uniforms and lunch money, the parents must also pay and perform all maintenance and repairs on the building and cook the meals for the children at lunch time. These stipulations steal the right of education away from many families because if they do not have the funds to build and maintain a school, their children go without education. If this obstacle alone does not damper their motivation, the financial strain due to shuttling the child to a neighboring town with a school and equipping them with the required materials is more than they can provide.
As I sat in the kitchen and interacted with Fernando and Alvaro, two of the children in the extended family, I felt conflicted with the direction their futures would lead if the right to education was not a resource that could be more attainable. As the oldest child read my roommates t-shirt from Augsburg, the warmth of tears filled my eyes. "The sky is the limit" is a statement that we hold onto and strive towards in our academic journey. But where is the sky if the limits are smothered by systematic oppression and privatization of education? What can be done so the human right of education can be accessible and available to all students in Mexico, the United States and all countries?
|Fernando and the Girls|
As I look at the faces of these children I am brightened by their laughter, hope, intelligence and curiosity of the world. As a social worker, my spirit has been strengthened by the desire to advocate and change this situation so that every child is given the chance to share their twinkle and light among the bigger sky of our world.
-Amy Amsler, Student