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 if you are 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. Celebrations took place in San Miguel de Allende in April 2019.
It may have taken 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
Carla, 37 years old, joined the school in 2014 as Teacher’s Assistant for preschool aged children. At the 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. Carla attended high school classes in the afternoon after work.
Azucena, 28 years old and Carla’s sister, has attended EEESMA since it opened its doors 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 starting 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 the
best that life has to offer! We know they can accomplish anything they set their mind to! And please consider joining us today by helping make education accessible to all children in San Miguel de Allende, regardless of their abilities, by sponsoring a deaf child to attend school in Mexico.
Mexico's National Day of the Deaf - November 28th
The Day That Is Truly Their Own
A special day to recognize and celebrate their Deafness. A day when young and old who are Deaf are honored. Those close to them, family and friends, come together to collectively celebrate the Deaf culture and share what that uniqueness means to each of them. There is gratitude for Mexican Sign Language, the history of Deafness in Mexico, the gathering of a diverse group of people who recognize their abilities, applaud their accomplishments, and celebrate their successes. A day when they have the opportunity to teach others, those that are hearing, what it means to them to be Deaf.
This wonderfully successful event, held at El Sindicato in San Miguel de Allende and attended by over 120 people, many coming from Mexico City and León, Gto., was totally planned by Directora Juaniz Garcia with the assistance of her teachers and staff. Great job Juaniz, your love and light shines through!
The children and young adults were in their element, loving every moment. We felt grateful to be a part of it all and to help celebrate each of them.
Directora Juaniz and Maestra Olga Provide Interpretation to Students and Others
Juaniz has made it her mission to bring the students out into the public forum to experience life outside the school walls, preparing them for an adulthood of self assurance and independence, without fear of judgement or negativity; no small task. She accomplished all this and more by encouraging the students to participate in many public events during the past few months through the demonstration of their language, Mexican Sign Language. Considering the smiles on so many faces, it was all positive.
The importance of Sign Language and what it means to a Deaf person to have someone to interpret Spanish to Mexican Sign Language is immeasurable to that person. Olga and Juaniz both took to the big stage on several occasions the past Holiday Season to be sure that the students, and others who are Deaf, understood the message being delivered. We all are very fortunate to have them at EEESMA and we want them to know how very much we appreciate them. Thank you ladies!
Although school may be out for the summer, Laura and Fernanda never tired in their desire to learn new things, especially when it involves one of their favourite pastimes, learning to sew and embroider. During the early part of August, and before the school opened for the new school year, they attended school for a week to take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about fashion design, pattern making and sewing. Most everyone else, teachers and students alike, were at home resting up and enjoying their summer break while waiting for the new fall term to start, but Laura and Fernanda knew they had more they wished to learn!
Accomplished designer, Aurelio Garcia Selgado, made a trip from Irapuato to tutor both young women, offer his advice and pass along valuable skills and techniques. As you will see from the photos, the result was two very well designed and trendy dresses styled for young women of Laura and Fernanda's age group. Dresses they would enjoy wearing themselves and they knew others would love to wear also. Their future goals include a career in fashion design which involves learning the process from start to finish and creating the designs with their own hands. This is a lofty goal indeed! These two young women know how to dream big!
At the end of each regular school day after academic classes are finished, Laura and Fernanda have also been studying sewing in one of three Vocational Training Workshops offered at EEE. The sewing workshop has been a means for Laura and Fernanda and their classmates to learn valuable job skills to prepare them for employment in the outside hearing world .
Their big dreams didn't start with fashion design however. Laura and Fernanda, along with other classmates, are very near completion of their on-line high school courses at Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende and will receive their graduation diplomas in a few short months. Both have been studying diligently and with the help of dedicated teachers, who explain and guide their lessons in Mexican Sign Language and written Spanish, will achieve something that few who are Deaf in Mexico ever achieve; they will graduate high school!
It is through the generousity of donors like you that Laura and Fernanda have been able to pursue their dreams of achieving a good level of education as well as learning how to begin to prepare for a career in fashion design. Thank you to all who have helped them and others at the school. You are offering hope and inspiration to young people who are Deaf; helping them to be all they can be and allowing them to learn what they love.
Being a girl in her preteen years usually means dealing with many “growing up” challenges. With Angelica these challenges don’t appear quite so obvious, at least on the surface, although having the challenge of deafness might be the one factor that overrides all others. Angelica will turn 13 years old on the 28th of August. She had a late start to school, arriving at Escuela de Educacion Especial (EEE) two years ago with very little sign language or reading skills. For children who are Deaf these skills are inexplicably entwined.
Without the introduction of language at an early age, usually between the age of two and three years, all children will begin to loose the ability to advance to the reading stage of development. As time passes, the gap continues to grow. As we all know, hearing children learn to talk by listening to and mimicking others. Likewise Deaf children who have others communicating with them in sign language are also able to develop the ability to process language, and if this is achieved at a young age, they too will learn to read and later to write. Getting an early start with sign language is essential to achieving future academic success.
Angelica may not have had this advantage but we know she has many other talents, that if nurtured, will brighten her future. In addition to providing an education, teaching her important life skills and introducing vocational training at the appropriate time will help her become more independent as she moves into adulthood. An enthusiastic and caring child, Angelica loves school, learning new things and spending time with her friends. Angelica attends primary classes with younger children but fits in well. Her best friends are Miguelito and Maricruz, both eight year olds. They happily help her to learn new word signs and with arithmetic. EEE provides Angelica with the opportunity to spend time with others who understand her and can communicate with her. She comes to school with her mother by bus from a community nearby. She has two sisters and her father works in the United States and she hopes to visit the United States someday. Angelica loves to draw in her spare time and wants to be an artist when she grows up. Her favourite subjects at school are arithmatic and Spanish and, not surprisingly, her absolutely favourite thing is to be with her school friends.
Please join us in helping to bring more children to Escuela de Educacion Especial so they too will have the opportunity to learn Mexican Sign Language and to read and write Spanish. Education and vocational training are these children's ticket to living and working more independently as they grow into adults. I’m sure you will agree, all Deaf children deserve the opportunity to succeed and live a fulfilling life.
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