A summer of workshops at CASA

By Isabella Stallworthy, Mara Moettus, Kelsi Morgan and Beth Lewis

Each summer the Center for the Adolescents of San Miguel de Allende (CASA) hosts a summer camp lasting three weeks for adolescents ages 12 to 18 who come from all parts of Mexico. With the support of the CASA program for sex and gender education (PESSANE), they participate in workshops on topics such as sexual and reproductive health, social problems, and personal development. The students live in dorms at the CASA facility, and students can receive scholarships to cover up to 90 percent of the cost of attendance.

This year, 28 students travelled from different states of Mexico to spend three weeks living together at CASA in Santa Julia. Some have specific topics they are interested in and others are here just to learn something new. It’s 16-year-old Felipe Fonseca Navarro’s first time at camp, and he has come from seven hours away in Córdoba, Veracruz.

“[The people here] are really nice and open,” says Navarro, who explains that he came because he wanted a new experience and to see San Miguel. He plays the guitar and is interested in learning about addictions of all sorts. “People at home talk about these topics but they talk about them negatively, like jokes among friends. There is never serious discussion,” he comments. Navarro says he is definitely interested in university but has yet to decide on a focus.

Martin Vernon of Mexico City is 14, but is here for his second summer course. Although still in middle school, he knows that he’d like to pursue a career in chemistry and he has enjoyed the theater and radio activities at the camp so far.

“I’m interested in social problems such as teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases,” he tells us.

Eduardo Pérez Palau Flores, who is also 14, hails from San Luis de Potosí and wants to learn more about sexuality. “I want to be a nutritionist,” he responds when asked about the future. He heard about the camp from his aunt.

María del Socorro Mis Tzab, from Yucatan, aspires to be a bilingual kindergarten teacher for kids who speak both Mayan and Spanish. This is also her first time at CASA summer camp and she wants to learn a little of everything and everybody. “Personally, I have always liked learning about other topics, learning more about the topics that I already know and others. I like to get to know people from other places and to see many other places.” Specifically, she is most interested in personal development.

This CASA summer camp offers students a unique space to learn about both themselves and the society in which they live, and it aims to equip each student to make a positive impact on his or her world. Who knows what these three weeks will inspire?

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