By: Patricia Ann Talley, MBA and Editor.
Imagine being a young college girl from the small town of Zihuatanejo and having the opportunity to take a trip to Washington, D.C and New York! In July, four young students had this wonderful educational experience thanks to the generosity of sponsors Jocelyn Servick and Gary Steinhafel from Pinehurst, North Carolina. The girls are scholarship recipients of the Niños Adelante charity organization that provides educational opportunities for the students of Zihuatanejo. The trip to the USA was an additional gift.
The students, ranging from 17-19 years, attend high schools and colleges in the Zihuatanejo area. They were selected for the trip by the Niños Adelante organization because of their good grades and high academic standings. They are studying tourism and business administration and receive an annual scholarship from the organization.
Zihuatanejo students shown at the airport before departure on their USA trip. From left to right, Nancy Fiore Guzmán; Sarai Rios Gonzalez; sponsor Jocelyn Servick from Pinehurst, North Carolina; Saira Raquel Ponce Gonzalez; Patricia Pino Villegas; and Jose Bustos, Executive Director for Niños Adelante.
Niños Adelante (children forward) is a Mexican non-profit organization that was founded in 1978 by Liz Williams, an American expatriate, local realtor and the former US Consular Agent. For over 30 years, Niños Adelante has provided scholarships to needy, deserving children in the Zihuatanejo area, thereby giving them the opportunity to complete high school and college, and to have a chance at better jobs and more rewarding lives.
The student tour to the USA is one of many educational opportunities provided by the Niños Adelante organization. All expenses for the students were paid by their benefactors, Servick and Steinhafel, and Jocelyn Servick came from North Carolina to escort the girls on the trip back to her home town of Pinehurst, and then on to Washington, D.C. and New York. Mr. Martín Median R., a local businessman, provided funds for the girls to have spending money on the trip.
I met with the girls and their parents before they departed to the US – they were so nervous and excited! Their parents were giving them last minute advice to remember their manners and to say, “Please and Thank You.” They’ve studied English and were anxious to use their language skills.
The students visit the Empire State Building in New York.
Upon their return, I asked the students what impressed them most about the United States:
They visited their sponsor’s home in North Carolina where it was very warm and they went fishing.
They loved Washington, D.C. where they visited the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Monument and the Vietnam Wall. They were impressed with the beauty and cleanliness of the city. And, President Obama’s motorcade went pass as they were touring!
They spent three days in New York where they visited the Empire State Building. The girls now wear bracelets from the 9/11 Memorial and they were emotionally touched by their visit.
What was different?
THE FOOD! The girls laughed that there were no tortillas, no salsa and no chilies! “It was all American food!” they said. They had a wonderful time in the United States, but they are glad to get back home to Moma’s cooking.
How You Can Help Deserving Students
You can help educate and provide future opportunities for the children in the Zihuatanejo area by supporting the Niños Adelante non-profit organization. In Mexico, the costs associated with attending school after the sixth grade increase substantially. Beginning in the 7th grade, students must pay for books, supplies, uniforms and lunch. High school students are also required to pay a small tuition to attend public high school, and of course, there’s college tuition. Many families simply cannot afford to continue their children’s education.
Your sponsorship of a student involves a commitment to make an annual scholarship contribution of $300 USD for middle school and high school students and $500 USD for college students, to assist families who would otherwise be unable to support their child’s continuing education. The program currently has 223 kids sponsored by 200 donors. Friends of Niños Adelante is a charitable organization under Section 501 (c) (3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. All donations are tax-deductible.
Sponsors are expected to maintain periodic contact with their students to encourage them in their studies. All sponsors are also encouraged, but not required, to visit Zihuatanejo annually to see their student and his or her family. Students highly value meeting and spending time with their sponsors and the visits reinforce the importance of education and the value of the program.
It takes a village to raise a child. The children of the world belong to all of us. Their futures are in our hands. Reach out and help. Go to: www.friendsofninosadelante.org and make a donation to help educate a child.
As for the girls – their US Passports are good for six years! They’re ready to go on their next educational adventure.
For more information about the Ixtapa Zihuatanejo area, see: