Introducing the Chiflón de los Calderos community and children

The Chiflón de los Calderos community is based in the eastern Colonia of Chula Vista in Cuernavaca, the capital city of Morelos, the second smallest state in Mexico. I had the pleasure of being a small part of the development of this community, through working with the students at the “La Esperanza” (“The Hope” in Spanish) elementary school at Chiflón de los Calderos. The residents of Chiflón are of a native indigenous background; they speak Nahuatl, and are fairly poor and marginalized in Morelos.

Chiflón de los Calderos main street

Chiflón de los Calderos main street

The first day I attended at La Esperanza, the teacher asked me (politely, but firmly) to introduce myself to the students in Nahuatl. “Notōcā Amna”. I didn’t understand then but came to realize that he was illustrating a part of his culture through this request, pride. The indigenous communities in Mexico have been for a long time and still for the most part a marginalized population in Mexico and all of Latin America, yet that didn’t stop them from being proud of who they were. That was why it was important for him that I introduce myself in Nahuatl (and later end up taking some Nahuatl classes) to the children, who as it seems want more than him to be part of the “mezcla” Mexican culture that is dominant.

Building bridges with children

Building bridges with children

Although my job was clear and I had prepared the lesson plans like I always do, teaching critical and philosophical thinking to indigenous children was a more challenging task, partly because their thinking style was far more advanced than those of their age and they always surprised me, and partly because their thinking style was very different. These children did not only know what they wanted out of life, they were also very appreciative of the opportunity to be at school, whilst their siblings and most of their neighbors children were in el centro selling products to the passers by, in order to make a living for their families.

Selling donated clothes to the community members to raise funds for the school

Selling donated clothes to the community members to raise funds for the school

The children were very genuine in their wanting to learn and the conditions in which they live in, the everyday struggles of securing food for everyone and having a good nights sleep are very real and the children are aware of them. One of the students will complete grade 6 next year, and says he insists on both going to school and working after hours so that his family may never have to go back to the drug industry again.

I thought it would be easy to repeat a class that I had taught for four years in Saudi, however, the different contexts of each country, the cultural differences as well as the economic conditions of my students made my experience as educational for me as it was for them.

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