Last week I visited a school called “Crecer” which means “to grow” in Spanish. The school is located in the City of Tlaxcala. I didn’t know much about the city except that it was located outside of the metropolis of Mexico City. I always love getting away from the noise and crowds of big cities so a trip to Tlaxcala was perfect for me. I had already suffered a week of hearing sirens every few minutes, incessant horn honking and music blaring around every corner I turned. The fact that I was going to have a two-hour bus ride to get there was even more of an enticement.
I boarded the bus and felt that, “sit back and relax” feeling you get when someone else is doing the driving. My plan was simple. I would stare out of the large window of the bus for two hours taking in the country’s landscape.
No sooner did the driver pull away from our stall when, miraculously, television monitors descended from the ceiling of the bus with their volumes already set on maximum. Television monitors! I could have screamed!
I rode for two hours being subjected to a diaper-wearing Panda who apparently knows kung-fu and simultaneously channels the spirits of Larry, Curly and Moe. I knew I was in the minority as someone who was desperately seeking solace in silence because, the entire trip, there were bursts of raucous laughter, loud conversations and, believe this or not, people actually playing music aloud from their phones.
I did manage to stare out into the vast expanse that is Mexico and view some beautiful land. Dormant volcanoes, snow capped mountains, fields upon fields of corn and other vegetation. Mexico is truly a blessed piece of earth.
I was met at the bus station in Tlaxcala by Martha Jáuregui, director of Crecer. From the beginning, Martha’s warm and inviting demeanor made me feel welcomed in her city. On our way through Tlaxcala to her school I was treated to some of the most picturesque sites of colonial architecture and baroque inspired iglesias. Prior to arriving, Martha warned me that her campus was very small. What Martha didn’t know at the time was that “small” and “quaint” was just what I was in need of after Mexico City.
The campus was indeed small but grand in vision. The feel of the campus reminded me of a throwback to an era when a small community shaped the environment of its school.
I was scheduled to perform for the upper grades only. The youngest, kinder and pre-k, had been excluded. I didn’t feel so good about those children, on such a small campus, having been excluded so I asked Martha if it would be alright for me to visit their classrooms for just a few minutes. She was excited to consent and escorted to me the kinder and pre-k classrooms. It was so much fun!
I got a chance to sing “Los Pollitos” with the children and find out their names. One little girl, about 4 or 5 years of age, wrapped her arms around my neck when I squatted down to get eye-to-eye with her group. What a wonderful feeling.
The sessions with the older groups went exceptionally well. I got the feeling from these small groups of teens that they had not yet been tainted by the cynicism or angst of their peers in the larger cities. Their questions were both thoughtful and probing. By the time I had to leave I felt as though I had been in the company of an extremely mature group of young adults. How refreshing!
I told Martha of my interest in I.B. Schools (International Baccalaureate) and she introduced me to their I.B. coordinator, Guadalupe. There was a light shining in Guadalupe’s eyes that immediately enamored me with her. As we spoke I could tell that her passion for learning and teaching was beyond the pale. She and Martha are definitely two peas in a pod. I think that by the time I left the school I must have hugged everyone 4 or 5 times each. It was a refreshing experience to visit “Crecer.”
You might have thought that I would have been left with my good feeling and placed back on the bus to head back to Mexico City but that was not in Martha’s plans. She and her husband personally escorted me around the city of Tlaxcala and patiently answered my touristy questions. There is a bull- fighting ring in the city that I got to see, a beautiful church and, in the square, some amazing artwork.
My visit to Tlaxcala gave me back the solace that I was so desperately seeking. I can honestly say that I found tranquility in Tlaxcala. Thank you Martha and the entire staff of Crecer.