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Talented young people come to San Miguel to work with rural communities

By Bruce Rossley

The Rural Education Institute of Mexico aspires to improve the future success of children in rural communities through education, life skills, and leadership. One critical component of that model is through utilizing talented young people as interns to provide educational programming in community centers in rural areas. This year the Rural Education Institute is lucky to have four committed interns who have been working to improve educational opportunities for young people.

Justin Sandoval is the current Director of Programming, spending the majority of his week working in the rural communities. A native Oregonian, his parents are from Mexico and El Salvador. Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oregon in Spanish and Sociology. He has several years experience in working in community development and hands-on community work with an immigrant rights coalition in Oregon. He also has experience in working with public and private sectors in establishing better relations with the immigrant communities.

Lexi Stickel is the Director of Operations and works with the development and communications of the organization. She is from Portland, Oregon and holds Master’s degrees in International Studies and Conflict & Dispute Resolution from the University of Oregon as well as a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management. Lexi developed a love of Spanish language and culture while spending four months in Argentina and two different summers in Oaxaca and Puebla in Mexico. In her spare time, Lexi enjoys food preservation, reading, writing, and spending time with her small dog, Frida.

Additionally, Gabi Perez and Salome Goncalves served as the Director of Programming and Assistant Director of Programming from August-December 2013. Gabi Perez is from California and graduated from the University of Oregon. Before coming to Mexico, Gabi taught English abroad in China for a year. Currently, Gabi is living and working in Chicago. Salome came to San Miguel from Portugal, she is a Master’s student in Migrate and Refuge Studies. She enjoyed her time in Mexico learning about nonprofit work as well as spending the majority of her time with children of La Palma. Currently, Salome is in Portugal writing her thesis.

The Rural Education Institute is thankful to have such great international interns that continually contribute to the success of the program.

As Mexico has become the second largest economy in Latin America, there remains a stark inequality in the country’s education system – rural Mexico’s children simply do not have the same opportunities as their urban counterparts. The problem is partly financial (there are few high schools in the campo, and the government does not provide transportation for rural children to attend urban schools), and partly cultural (in rural areas, literacy is low, and education is not always a priority). The Rural Education Institute of Mexico exists to help fill this gap, and to give rural children the incentive and means to go on to high school, and beyond.

Our skilled volunteers travel and work in rural community centers, providing programs that introduce children to a world outside the campo. We build libraries and help children improve their reading. Children learn art, drama and English, among other subjects, and are taught to use computers that we supply. We also provide opportunities to children so they can meet the costs of going to high school – about $700 U.S. per student per year – by awarding scholarships.

For more information about the Rural Education Institute of Mexico, please visit our website at or call us at 415-124-1357.


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