I finally met the Isla Mujeres student that I sponsor

Along with two other women I have sponsored Alejandra since March 2008. Alejandra has been going to university in Merida for 2 1/2 years. She is studying to become a kindergarten teacher because “everyone needs to start school.” Alejandra studies hard and has received excellent grades. While she was home on Isla for Christmas break one of my co-sponsors Wanda and I made arrangements with Maggie (La Gloria English School) to meet Alejandra and her family for breakfast. We met yesterday at Bistro Francais for breakfast with Alejandra, her sister Nidali and her mother Juana. Juana sells pareos on the road to Playa Sol. Juana works on 100% commission and was struggling to support Alejandra’s school and living expenses. Maggie has known Alejandra and her family for many years and reached out  for help so Alejandra could stay in school.

With Maggie’s help we were able to communicate quite well with Alejandra and her family. She plans on staying in Merida after she gets her degree and has already found a school where she would like to teach. Alejandra’s 17 year old sister also has plans to attend the same teaching program in Merida after she graduates from high school. 7 year old Nidali is  an excellent student too. She recently received a diploma for outstanding math scores.

One interesting thing that I learned about the university program that Alejandra is attending is that it is a strict 4 year program. There is no stopping in the middle of it. If a student drops then later wants to complete the program they must start from the beginning. This is very different from the USA college system where many students take much longer than 4 years to complete their  studies to receive a degree. This is why it was so important for Maggie to find sponsors for Alejandra. The $200 US that we give to Alejandra monthly helps her stay in school and takes much stress out of her mother Juana’s life.

Alejandra, Nidali and Juana

Maggie from La Gloria English School

We talked about many other things about island life but that is for another post.

If you are interested in finding out how you can help an Isla student stay in school please  email me.

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11 Responses

  1. I didn’t realize that about the college system in MX–is it the particular program that she is in or country wide? We are hoping to be able to help our “daughter” Gaby if she decides she wants to go to college in another year or so. Sounds ( and looks ) like you’re having a great time–hope it is healing for you.

    • Ann,
      As far as I can tell, this is the way it is in Mexico at all post high-school educational institutions. The one variation is Marbella, who has 2-month sessions for 3 years to complete her degree. She is allowed one break (of 2 months) during that time, but if she takes more than one she is eliminated from her program and must start again. It definitely puts a lot of pressure on the student to finish! The other differences is that there is no way to borrow to go to college – unless you are willing to pay 20 to 30 percent interest rates! This means that most students are from wealthy families – paying cash as they go. The other difference is that it is not as expensive. Even at $2500 pesos a month, the cost is only the equivalent of $2400 USD per year for tuition, and that is one of the more expensive schools. It is not much by our standards, but out of reach for these students and their families. All this has been a real education for me – seeing how getting ahead is really stacked against those without money. That makes this program doubly important!
      Maggie Washa

  2. How great that you were able to meet Alejandra. It sounds like she is doing well, and will complete her studies on schedule. I am happy that Mark arranged for me to be part of her team. I don’t think I will meet her on my trip, which is in February, but I will stop and see her mom; can always use another pareo!

  3. Your post made my day! Alejandra is a hard working student and a beautiful young lady. I’m so glad that you got the chance to meet her. With your permission, I will use your post and pics when I start the Isla Scholarship Program Blog. Yay!!!

  4. So good to see your post – I have wondered how the college system works in Mexico. It was good to see and hear of Alejandra!

  5. I’m glad to see your meeting went well and that Alejandra is blossoming. Way to go!

  6. So glad you finally got to meet Alejandra. Can’t wait to hear more about what you all talked about.

  7. I have just begun to find out about Isla Mujares and my wife and I will stay there in April of 2010. I work on a small island school off the coast of Long Island NY and would like to start a partnership w/ a school on Isla Mujeres. We are a K-12 school w/ 68 students. I have researched the Little Yellow Schoolhouse and the La Gloria School. Is there a middle/high school on the island that we could partner with? Our Spanish classses might be in a position to donate a webcam setup to get us started. Whatever info you have will help our school in it’s search to partner w/ a school on Isla Mujeres.

    • Yes, there is a middle school who you could probably work with. However, I do not know how to contact them. YOu might try Maggie at La Gloria English School. Perhaps she would know how to contact the schools.

  8. […] co-sponsor Alejandra who is going to university in Merida. I met her and her family last month while I was on Isla […]

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