Below are reflections and photos from Allison & Taya De Long after returning from a week in La Manzanila, Jalisco, Mexico as part of Spread Art's residency program. We are grateful they were able to take part, and appreciate their positive contribution to the community. See more photos here.
Our opportunity in Mexico, thanks to Spread Art, turned out to be an even richer experience than we had imagined! Our location was right where all the action happens, near the plaza and right next to the church. The day after we arrived, a bishop was visiting and there was a great celebration which included a parade, live entertainment, and a huge "pozole" feast!
On Saturday, we helped with a free art class for the local children. There were over 20 enthusiastic kids in attendance. They worked on 4 different projects during the class. Two gringo artists living there in La Manzanilla give their time and materials(?) to put this on every weekend.
A couple days later we helped with an after school art class in the La Catalina Education Foundation building next to the elementary school. It was fun to see some of the same kids there as the Saturday class. Another afternoon we helped with an after school English class in the same location. It turned out the woman teaching was a friend of ours from back home! And she was there with her kids who we knew also which was fun for my daughter, Taya.
Our last day we were invited to come to the elementary school to help with the English classes that occur as part of the regular school day. We saw many familiar faces that we had come to know during the week. It was fun to see the kids in their school uniforms too! We were surprised to see as many as 37 kids in one classroom.
We love the small, friendly size and safe feel of La Manzanilla. We enjoyed being on the streets in town and having kids we had met in classes come up to us and say "Hola" and want to speak with us. These connections were priceless and unforgettable. We gave little of our time and were given so much more in return. It was much better than a vacation just sitting on the beach day after day (but I admit we did a bit of that too!).