It is sometimes hard to find good news and to be upbeat in these challenging times; the times of COVID-19.
But one thing that can give us all some comfort is to bear witness to how well children who are Deaf deal with the tough hand they have been dealt. Most often they do not complain, they are open to many changes and challenges, show amazing resiliency and, best of all, offer us all hope that a better future is within reach.
We invite you to read on, to learn firsthand how Laurita aspires to continue her education, to create a better life for herself while displaying courage and perseverance in the process.
It is also worth mentioning that all students, teachers, staff and their families at Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende are doing well while following “stay at home” practices during the school's temporary closure.
EEESMA is proud to announce that Laurita has registered in Utel University's on-line program for a Bachelor Degree in Education. The program began June 1st, 2020 and runs for 2 years 8 months. She will be tutored by teachers at EEESMA offering translation from Spanish to Mexican Sign Language to assist Laurita to better understand and complete assignments.
Following her graduation from high school at EEESMA last March, and after spending several months working with Directora Juaniz as a teaching assistant, Laurita realized that she had a lot to offer children who are Deaf by pursuing a career as a teacher. Through this work, she has demonstrated strong abilities to work with young Deaf students.
Described as a bright, warm, enthusiastic and caring young woman, those who know Laurita are confident she will make a great teacher and an amazing role model for all young Deaf people. During the temporary closure of school, Laurita has continued to work alongside Juaniz in an impressive way to support students with their virtual studies. Please join us in wishing Laurita well in the pursuit of her dreams of attaining higher education and becoming a teacher of the Deaf.
Fostering Deaf Awareness, and Asking “What Does It Mean to be Deaf”?
On November 29, 2019 National Day of the Deaf was observed by Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende. This was a day meant for all to reflect on what it means to be Deaf; as best as one can who is hearing! Teachers, families, friends, supporters and, most importantly, the students themselves gathered to share with each other.
It was a day to celebrate one's deafness. (Yes, it is possible to celebrate deafness if one has pride in oneself and in one's community.)
It was a day to create awareness around what it means to be Deaf.
It was a day to educate, inform and entertain.
All of these things were accomplished, and more, on this remarkable day.
Highlights of the event included informative speakers on issues facing the Deaf, a presentation of a children’s book illustrated by Jesús a student of the school, lively and entertaining stage performances by a visiting interpreter/performer and several engaging dance and sign language songs performed by the children themselves. The touching finale was a song performed by the students and their parents together, communicating their affection for each other in sign language. Many of the parents are only just beginning to learn Mexican Sign Language and this public display of tenderness was extraordinary for the students and for those fortunate enough to be there to witness it.
As Day of the Deaf is also intended to educate and inform, we share some important facts. INEGI (a federal government agency in Mexico) reports:
-of the over 5.5 million people with disabilities in Mexico, 12.1% or 694,451 are Deaf.
-6,000 are born each year with a hearing impairment.
The Deaf, along with many others who have disabilities (or as we like to say "those with different abilities"), are only now gaining some recognition, particularly in smaller centers such as San Miguel de Allende. Municipal government officials attended this event and organized another observance entitled "Dia de Discapacidad" or Day of the Disabled the following week. It’s not a lot, but it is a start.
It wasn't until 2005 that Mexican Sign Language or LSM was even recognized as an official language in Mexico. The biggest hurdle, as we see it, is to convince those with decision making power to allocate resources to better train teachers and interpreters in Mexican Sign Language within the public school system. Might it be possible for a student from EEESMA to one day fill such a role? Those associated with EEESMA are confident that it will be. We also know there is so much more work still to be done.
On the bright side, advances in technology hold great promise, particularly when it comes to bridging the communication barrier. An announcement was made this day about a new phone app that will translate oral language into sign language, hopefully available soon.
Because of the lack of easily accessible information about the Deaf community and about Deaf Education to most in and around San Miguel, families of Deaf children are often left to feel helpless and don’t know where to turn for guidance. EEESMA continues to work diligently to get the information out there, and this event certainly helped accomplish that. Sanjuana Garcia Salgado, Director of EEEMSA, together with her team and all the students, produced a very successful presentation. Join us in offering them our congratulations on a job well done!
The sponsorship project to bring Deaf children and young adults to Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende continues its support by helping them attend school where the use of Mexican Sign Language provides them an education.
The last months of the 2018-19 school term were awash with both academically stimulating and sustainable vocational activities. We name but a few of them and the students who were most impacted.
Laura, Fernanda and Juanita, having recently graduated, continue in the “vocational transition program” learning how to apply enjoyable, yet valuable and practical skills learned in the sewing workshop to a work environment outside school. They are preparing themselves for future employment in the “real world”. A young fashion designer was contracted to give one-on-one instruction to the young women on how make such things as bomber jackets and embellished denim jackets; along with blouses and dresses of a more creative design. As a result of what they have achieved so far, the group of three were hired by a local dance school instructor to create tutu’s for her young dance students. Fabulous work chicas!
Jesús, Alfonso and Max have also moved on from middle school. Their work in the carpentry workshop has led them to some great achievements. Max focuses on building furniture for Casita Linda (a non-profit in San Miguel building homes for families with few resources). When the houses are complete he also forms part of the team that delivers the furniture to the families, thus giving him first hand interaction with the people who receive the furniture he builds. Jesús and Alfonso have received local recognition creating outstanding wooden cutting boards and other practical items, such as amazing artists’ easels for sale in the school’s store Deseñas and also in a several private businesses serving artists in San Miguel. You guys are doing great!
Gaby, José Luis and Rafa continue to amaze with their beautifully crafted silver jewelry. Their designs were showcased recently at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference, Fabrica Aurora Art Walk, and gatherings of The San Miguel Literary Sala. Sales of the jewelry help provide a small income to these aspiring young artists and also help make the school’s vocational workshops sustainable. We are all so proud!
On the academic side, a fun and educational field trip took place on the last day of school. Young students Jacobo, Dylan, Maricruz, along with many other fellow students, were joined by family members, teachers and staff to take part in a visit to the neighboring city of Silao to see the science museum and sea life aquarium. Not only were many valuable science lessons learned in an interactive and fun way but it was also a great way to kick off summer vacation!
The 2019-20 school term holds even greater hope, promise and excitement for those attending EEESMA and who happen to be Deaf. The director and teachers have recently completed additional training, helping to build and develop their existing skills and several new children have enrolled for the new fall term. Attending EEESMA will be their best chance in attaining a meaningful education. It will also allow them to become part of an accepting and supportive Deaf community. Please join us in welcoming them and bringing them into the EEESMA fold by making your donation today.
Many more activities can be seen by following the school on Facebook @EEESanMiguelAllende
Many young people take high school graduation for granted. What could be more normal? Attend classes, complete assignments, and before you know it you are on to the next exciting chapter in your young life. It’s not quite that easy if you are a young woman living in Mexico, especially one who just happens to be deaf.
Three young women at Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende challenged all obstacles in their path, attaining their life dream of graduating from high school in spite of their deafness. It took each of them much longer than most to reach this point; much longer than should have been necessary. Unfortunately they come from a place where their formative years consisted of languishing in public school, virtually untaught, because the teachers had no sign language. But with the help of tutors hired at the school, one who is deaf himself, all worked diligently over the past three years to achieve this educational success, to graduate high school. This is a huge milestone for them personally. Also one that their families’ never thought possible and are now especially proud.
We are reminded that, even in this day and age, many young women around the world are not encouraged to pursue an education. To be even more precise, we know they are discouraged from such pursuits. To their families, often because of economic necessity or as a result of cultural or social customs, girls are considered to be more valuable either working or marrying at a young age. On top of this, there is an even greater challenge for a child born in a developing country and who is deaf. There is little special education provided by the state, therefore there are few places where sign language is available to communicate with the Deaf, let alone teach them. Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende is one of the few non-profit organizations in Mexico that has taken a lead in filling this exceptional need.
Carla, 37 years old, joined the school in 2014 as teacher’s assistant for preschool aged children. At that time Carla was helping her mother clean houses. She is proficient in Mexican Sign Language and eager to pass her special knowledge and skill on to others.
Azucena, 28 years old and Carla’s sister, attended EEESMA since doors opened in 2012. Bright, inquisitive and with a happy disposition, Azucena has always displayed strong leadership skills. She excelled in middle school and benefitted greatly from communicating with her older sister in sign language at a young age. She aspires to start her own baking business.
Laura, 20 years old, is quiet yet self assured. Intelligent and curious to learn new things, Laura’s strong subject is mathematics. Her dream, after graduation, is to pursue a career in sewing and fashion design, assisted by vocational training and work transition programs at the school.
There is a renewed sense of pride and accomplishment shared by all at EEESMA. Young ones at primary and middle school levels now have close knit role models to look up to and to emulate. They too can see first hand that their dreams of an education are within their grasp. The staff, teachers and director also join in a shared sense of achievement. All the hard work has indeed paid off!
Join us in congratulating Carla, Azucena and Laura in their graduation! Join us in wishing them all the best that life has to offer! And please consider joining us today by helping make education accessible to all children, regardless of their abilities, by sponsoring a deaf child to attend school in Mexico.
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