November 19, 2004

A hope for Tijuana children through the arts

Colegio La Esperanza is having its Mexican Revolution Kermesse Festival on Saturday, November 20

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

Ellen Heredia feels really proud because she will be able to celebrate Mexican Revolution Day at a very special event: The Gran Kermesse Festival of the Mexican Revolution at Colegio La Esperanza, a private elementary and high school in Tijuana where students are encouraged to learn about the world through the arts.

And during the kermesse, Heredia will perform in a gymnastics exhibition she has learn at a class she’s taking at Colegio La Esperanza, where she’s attending her second year of high school.

“It’s a great honor for me to give tribute to the heroes of the Revolution through the gymnastics knowledge I’ve acquired at school,” said the 17-year old. “It’s special because it’s the first time I perform in public and at the same time we’ll be celebrating one of the most important events in Mexican history.”


Kindergarten students of Colegio La Esperanza, getting ready for their performance.

Indeed, the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910 and lasted through the 1920s, changed Mexico forever. While the poor remained poor, and the rich and powerful remained rich and powerful, the Revolution created a pride and nationalism among Mexicans that gave the world masterpieces such as Diego Rivera’s murals.

This is one of the reasons why Colegio La Esperanza has celebrated Mexican Revolution, which takes place on November 20, for four years with a gran kermesse festival.

“It’s porpuse is to reaffirm Mexican culture and to promote our school,” said Pepe Andrade, and administrator and computer science teacher at Colegio La Esperanza, a school founded more than 15 years ago by the Americas Foundation, an American non-profit based in Chula Vista.

At the kermesse festival students and community members participate in danza folklorica, street fair-style games, traditional Mexican music dances and other activities that give a sense of pride among students, Andrade said.

“We try to give a solid foundation of patriotism to the children and to reenforce their historical knowledge”, he said.

About 500 people are expected to attend the gran kermesse festival at Colegio La Esperanza, which is located at Colonia La Esperanza, part of subdelegación Sánchez Taboada, one of the poorest areas in Tijuana.

But the gran kermesse isn’t the only event Colegio La Esperanza helds each year. In fact, the school has a much important mission, said Christine Brady, founder of Colegio La Esperanza and president of The Americas Foundation, a non-profit that promotes community development in both sides of the border.

“When we opened the school we wanted to teach children art as a form of self-development,” she said. “We wanted to set the example so that the community could learn to help themselves.”

Brady said she chose Colonia La Esperanza because it is one of the most marginal colonias in Tijuana.

And without a doubt, the school has had a positive impact in the community.

Before the school opened about 17 years ago, Colonia La Esperanza didn’t have basic services such as electricy and potable water, Andrade said. In fact, Colegio La Esperanza was the first school to open in the colonia.

“A lot of children were growing up without an education,” he said.

So when Colegio La Esperanza arrived with its mission to foment the healthy development of economically disadvantaged children through a program of classical arts education and the basic program for kindergartens, elementary schools and high schools delineated by the Secretary of Education of Baja California, the community embraced it.

“Parents love the program. They know their children are receivin a quality education that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them in Tijuana,” Andrade said.

Through donations from American and Mexican donations, children with financial need and excellent academic performance receive scholarships to attend Colegio La Esperanza, which offers classes in art, ballet, theatre, music and literature, Brady said.

Currently the school is accepting donations to continue with the construction of a new building that will house the high school, Brady said.

Ellen Heredia, the student who will perform during the Mexican Revolution kermesse festival on November 20, began attending Colegio La Esperanza since kindergarten. She said that she has friends who attend other high schools in Tijuana, and she notices that they don’t receive such an excellent education.

“Here is very different,” Heredia said. “Here we get more attention from teachers. Also, we learn subjects that otherwise we wouldn’t get in other schools, such as ballet. I think in other schools they don’t really care about the students’ education.”

With about 150 children in its kindergarten and elementary schools, and 40 students in its high school, Colegio La Esperanza, which means “hope” in Spanish, is giving needy children in Tijuana the brighter future every kid deserves.

The Mexican Revolution Kermesse Festival

When? Saturday, November 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where? Colegio La Esperanza, located at Calle Dirección del Trabajo 15700, Colonia La Esperanza, Subdelegación Sánchez Taboada, in Tijuana.

More information? Call in Tijuana, 011-52 (664) 626-4698; in Chula Vista, (619) 585-9009. Via e-mail: escuela@cox.net. On the web, www.christine.americasfoundation.net.

The Americas Foundation is accepting donations to continue its mission at Colegio La Esperanza.

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