On June 16, 15 JcR youth traveled from Tijuana to Monterrey to attend their much anticipated graduation ceremony at the Tec de Monterrey. For each of the young people, this trip not only represented their first time boarding a plane but also an opportunity to extend themselves beyond their comfort zone as they traveled to one of Mexico’s most prestigious university, the Tec de Monterrey, to receive their diplomas in person.
Apart from their graduation ceremony, perhaps the most enriching and rewarding part of the trip was the exchange between the young people from Tijuana and Monterrey facilitated by JcR staff. As part of the exchange there were a number of activities including a rally at JcR’s Youth Center (YEC) in La Alianza, a participative discussion on the topic of leadership, and a group trip through the Paseo Santa Lucía. Thanks to this opportunity, the young people had a chance to build relationships with each other and recognize their role as key members of a YouthBuild network of youth not only in Mexico but throughout the world.
Prior to the trip, youth from Tijuana worked very hard for two months to raise money for half of their flight tickets through fundraising efforts selling perfume, chocolate and enchilada apples. On June 17th, thanks to their efforts and the generosity of Nacional Monte de Piedad and Volaris, the youth from Tijuana were able to join their peers from Monterrey and attend their graduation ceremony at the Tec de Monterrey where a total of 31 youth graduated. Click here to view a compilation of their final project videos that they prepared prior to the ceremony (in Spanish).
During the ceremony, the graduates received inspiring words of encouragement and congratulations from Dr. Alejandro Poiré (Dean of the Government School of Tec de Monterrey); Sean Jones (Mission Director of USAID in Mexico), Eunice Rendón (Undersecretary of Social Prevention and Citizen Participation of SEGOB), Joseph M. Pomper (General Consul of the United States in Monterrey), Laura Ruiz (Director of Education for Development of the Government School of Tecnológico de Monterrey), Rubén Illoldi (Deputy Director of the Employment and Entrepreneurship Centers of Nacional Monte de Piedad), Luz María Moreno (Academic Coordinator from the Tec de Monterrey), Rubén Aguilar Valenzuela (Member of Nacional Monte de Piedad’s Board of Directors) and Tere Lanzagorta (Director of YouthBuild International México) who addressed the graduates: “Thank you for confirming once more our conviction that in each young person there is a positive strength to be unleashed. You have made a significant change today in your lives, and without a doubt in the life of your families, communities, and therefore, our country.”
The pilot program provided a unique and invaluable opportunity to JcR youth participants by providing them with a high quality education and a recognized certificate from a prestigious Mexican university. Additionally, JcR staff who were engaged in the coordination of the program were able to serve in an important role as youth tutors to the participants and encourage them to complete their studies. Youth tutors provided daily support to the students, helping them one-on-one through the many difficulties and challenges presented during the six-month online course. Enrique Ordaz, a tutor from JcR Monterrey, shared that “the experience of the course made me see that youth look up to us to achieve their dreams and goals, because many times they cannot rely on their families or on society”. While América García, a tutor from JcR Tijuana, said “We saw them grow, not only through their technical knowledge, but also in their motivation. Often it was hard from them to continue, but their motivation made them move forward and adapt to new ways of learning.”
One by one the youth were called to receive their diplomas in the in the subjects of Gastronomy and Restaurant Management, Entrepreneurship, Tourism and Hotel Management and Office Management. The graduates expressed their gratitude for the experiences they gained during the program and the diplomas that they earned which will undoubtedly open new and promising doors for them in their futures.
“I am Lizbeth and I studied the course in Office Management. For me, the most important thing in the course was to learn, and be able to prove to myself, that I can get ahead. I have two daughters and I thought I wouldn’t have any more opportunities, but now I know that the sky is the limit and that I can put to practice everything I learned and improve for myself and my kids” – Lizbeth Aguilar, Granjas Familiares, Tijuana. 23 years old.
“The most important thing I learned in the Gastronomy and Restaurant Management course was teamwork and leadership. Because you can have thousands of chefs in a restaurant, but if you don’t have leadership and if you don’t work in team, you have nothing.” – José Luis Calderón Martínez, Nuevo Almaguer, Guadalupe. 17 years old.
“With the Entrepreneurship course I learned how to operate a restaurant, which is what I want to do. But above all, I learned how to make a dream become something real and concrete. I learned where I want to go and that nothing is impossible.” – Alejandro Azael Rocha Martínez, La Independencia, Monterrey. 19 years old.
“The course in tourism and hotel management showed me that it is not necessary to sit in a classroom to learn. Studying in your own is not a bad thing, but it isn’t easy either. In the end, the course helped us to make our dreams as youth come true.” – Jafeth Elizabeth Pérez Rivera, Mariano Matamoros, Tijuana. 17 años.
Photos by Dzilam Méndez (Senyor Doble U)