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Newsletter #23

WHAT’s UP: by Ron Budacz
TEACHING ENGLISH THE PEACE PM WAY

From its humble beginnings as an idea presented by The Angels to teaching English to more than 1,200 children, this learning discipline is truly an incredible accomplishment for our charity. Our donors fund it and our seasoned staff and teachers deliver it every day. My first 100 days on the job as Chair has revealed (to me) many facts, some of which I would like to share with you below.
We are helping to develop and expand young and malleable minds through the five days per week learning of a «foreign language» with an emphasis on conversational skills. In fact, we teach Pre-K through year 12 in all the schools of the three Punta de Mita towns served by PPM. In comparison to public and private school education in North America, I cannot identify any school, other than the most elite institutions, that teach toddlers and elementary school kids a «foreign language». Yes most schools in Mexico teach textbook English with vocabulary flash cards and tests; however, the State of Nayarit has commended PPM for both the depth and quality of its program that would be cost prohibitive in all other State schools, or in all of Mexico for that matter. While the internet has made the world a smaller place, mastering English exposes our children to endless career possibilities at home and abroad. (Please note that non English speaking people who come to North America learn it as a «second language» where a large and continuous support infrastructure exists.)

Next, the PPM English teachers undergo annual skills training, and they impart knowledge to their «state» colleagues teaching next door. Consequently, life skills of discipline, respect, honesty, and confidence are ingrained in our children and carried home to their parents. So we «teach up» to effect positively the home environment.

The PPM method of teaching English aligns with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), a language scale designed by the Council of Europe with assistance from Cambridge University Press. The PPM staff attends sessions throughout the year to assure that we utilize the best practices and latest teaching trends, notably the annual BBELT conference held by the British Council in Mexico City. BBELT introduces latest trends and ideas in English Language Teaching (ELT), where attendees participate in academic sessions, presentations, workshops and demonstrations of best teaching practices held by teaching specialists from the U.K., Mexico and the world. Although we believe our teaching methodology ranks among the best, after being at it for more than 6 years, it is prudent that we undergo an external assessment analogous to an annual audit of our financial statement to assure that we are doing things right and doing the right things.

In closing, teaching English as a «foreign language» is a long term process as we progress kids along the journey, beginning at Pre-K. We find that local children who excel in English are further exposed to it at home either by parents who want to learn it or by watching English speaking TV shows, like Sesame Street. Accordingly, I have encouraged The Angels Group to come full circle by working with the PPM Education Committee in assessing the benefit of providing TV monitors and fun educational apps for after school continuous learning. We are investing in the future of children and making a difference. I can’t think of a better way other than the PPM Way to spend resources.

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1st CEVICHE FEST
350+ ATTEND COMMUNITY FUNDRAISER ORGANIZED BY THE CAMPEONES
Each year students from the CAMPEONES Program are required to raise funds for their principal community project which they will execute in the following school year. This year, the CAMPEONES had a great idea, to raise funds by holding a Ceviche Festival, one that could possibly become an annual event on the Punta de Mita calendar.

Thus, on Saturday the 6th of July, the 1st Ceviche Fest was held and became a roaring success with 14 participants competing, bringing ceviche from not only the Punta de Mita region, but also from Sayulita, San Pancho and La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. Two major prizes were on offer. The first for best ceviche chosen by internationally reknown chef Pato Persico, Execetive Chef at Punta Mita, was given with a special prize donated by Four Seasons. The second was the popular vote and the special prize was generously donated by W Hotel! The CAMPEONES raised over $20,000MX that will go toward their project.

With more than 350 people coming from various parts of the Bahia de Banderas to enjoy the ceviche, drinks, games and live music, the event not only raised funds, but also brought together varying members of the community. We would also like to extend special thanks to Punta Mita for attending and sharing their amazing photos of the event, and a huge congratulations to everyone who participated for their delicious ceviche! You can read more about CAMPEONES here.

 

 


NEW GRADUATES AND FRESH FACES TO THE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
SUCCESSFUL GRADUATES FROM COLEGIO BUCERIAS ALONG WITH SELECTED NEWCOMERS

The Scholarship Program is one of PEACE’s key programs with its positive impact to the community duly noted, acting as a platform for excelling students from the CAMPEONES Program to study at the prestigious Colegio Bucerias and complete High School.
Last year saw the first round of graduates from the program, and this year we are happy to say that the second round of graduates saw three students graduate, Amram Cortes, Misael Ramos and Alondra Flores, and while the students are waiting for their results to enter university, the students have their sight on continuing higher level studies and we look forward to updating you with their progress. Furthermore, the Scholarship Program also has two new students who will start with Colegio Bucerias, completing their three years of high school starting in the 2019/20 school year. The Scholarship Selection committee, overseen by Katherine Nidermaier, selected two amazing students. The first student selected is Bridget Meza from Punta de Mita. A dedicated student, Bridget was an Honors student three years running at the Emiliano Zapata Secondary and often speaks publicly at CAMPEONES events. Her dream is to be a photographer for Nationl Geographic. The second student selected is Yosmavi Saldivar from Higuera Blanca. Yosmavi was also a consecutive honors student at the Higuera Blanca Secondary and plans to be a psychologist when she graduates from Colegio Bucerias. For more information about the Scholarship Program and other programs please click here.
MORNING CLASSES ENRICH THE PUNTA DE MITA COMMUNITY
INTERVIEW WITH NORMA CARBAJAL FROM THE ADULTS I.T., ENGLISH & YOGA MORNING CLASSES

For the 2018/19 school year PEACE introduced morning adult classes that would bring the community together. Executive Director Ali Elías took time to interview one of our standout participants Norma Carbajal to reflect upon the impact the classes had on her life.
Ali: What motivated you come to PEACE every morning to attend our English, I.T. and Yoga classes?
Norma: I wanted to start coming so I could do something different with my life, I always have a lot of work to do, so I liked the idea of learning something new. I have to be honest, when I got here I didn’t know how to use a computer or a mouse, I had to start from scratch. Now I know how to turn it on and do certain tasks. Ana is very patient and a very good teacher, she gave everyone the attention they needed and the classes were very nice. As an adult I had never taken classes, and I loved it.
Ali: I know that you were one of the most regular students, what did you have to do every morning before coming to class?
Norma: Sincerely, a lot of things! I don’t know how I finished in time but I had to make my husband’s lunch, I had to get my daughter ready for school and because I sell food nightly I had dirty dishes to clean. I had to get as much done as possible and leave the house clean to get here in time, because when I got back I had to get back to work. Luckily I got organized so I could get here on time. I’m really glad I got the chance to get to know you all. I really felt like I had a second family, I feel happy here.
Ali: How do you think the I.T, English & yoga classes impacted your life?
Norma: Well the English class was good, but a little difficult for me, as it was my first time learning a language. The yoga class was great for me as I used to have a lot of pain and had to go to many physical therapists, but now I come to the classes and I can even calm down by breathing. It’s incredible because when it starts to hurt I start breathing like we were taught and the pain goes away, I don’t have to go to physical therapists.
Ali: The fact that you’re learning and giving this time for yourself, how do you feel about that?
Norma: I feel really happy that I’m making time for myself. Before this, I wouldn’t give myself time at all, I would get invited out and I would always have an excuse for everything, since deciding that I would take time for myself, I don’t even answer the phone anymore because of that.

INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEERS JOIN PEACE FOR SUMMER CAMP
9 VOLUNTEERS FROM TEEN MEXICO CULTURAL XCHANGE ASSIST FROM ABROAD

With Summer Camp as a regular staple on the PEACE calendar, the event remains as popular as ever, with fun activities being held in all three communities in the area. With this popularity there is always a need for extra assistance.

To ensure things run as smoothly as possible, volunteers are always welcome and greatly appreciated. This year, PEACE was fortunate to be joined by TEEN Mexico Cultural xChange, set up by Rosalinda Markels from New Jersey, who has been volunteering with us on a yearly basis. The amazing initiative saw 9 volunteers from various cities from the USA, including regular volunteers Michaela and Luna Markels, who assist our teachers for the Summer Camp’s two weeks. The TEEN Mexico Cultural xChange not only offers teens from abroad to take responsibility and be exemplary examples for summer campers, but also to come practice their Spanish speaking skills in an immersive environment. For more information about the TEEN Mexico Cultural xChange please click here, and for Summer Camp please click here.

 

PEACE & SEP RELATIONS CONTINUE TO GROW STRONG
MANAGEMENT MEETS WITH EDUCATION OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS PROSPECTIVE OPPORTUNITIES
PEACE continues to strengthen ties with the SEP (the Mexican Ministry of Education), actively participating in the construction of new opportunities for collaboration, in different cutting-edge programs at the level of higher education.
We are pleased to continually receive invitations to be part of forums, seminars, presentations and meetings at the state level, of all new education policies and the upcoming changes to be implemented in the public system. Over the last few months, PEACE Management has met with officials in the local area as well as the Nayarit state capital Tepic. Without a doubt, PEACE continues to be seen as a great support to the community, reiterating our commitment to contribute with great advances for all members of our community, and their progress.



COMMUNITY PRIDE CONTINUES TO EMPOWER WOMEN
FIRST INSTALLMENT OF DESCÚBRETE FOR WOMEN HELD IN JUNE

Last month continued a Community Pride favorite, Descúbrete for Women, a self-help program that empowers its participants with their lives.

Descúbrete is now in its tenth year and continues to go from strength to strength. This year 60 women from the communities of Punta de Mita, Higuera Blanca and Corral del Risco attended the first seminar. With the first installment completed, the next three will be held in the coming months, preceding Descúbrete for youths. The program is being held at the Iberostar Selection Playa Mita who is generously donating the space. For more information about programs and events from Community Pride, please click here.

 

PPM/FPM MERGER: By Ron Budacz
AN OPEN UPDATE
Over the years, there have been many sidebar conversations concerning the merger of Peace Punta de Mita and the Fundación Punta Mita, and I have participated in quite a few of them. At the time of my appointment as PPM Chair in April 2019, I openly expressed my desire to begin a full-fledged effort to merge the charities with the shortest delay possible. Accordingly, I met with my counterpart, and eventually both staffs and most board members attended the other’s annual presentations.

While both organizations exist to help people in need, there are significant (but not insurmountable) differences in both board composition and the philosophies of both charities, and here are a few:
1. Geographical Spread: PPM focuses on the three towns just outside the Punta Mita Gates: Corral Del Risco, Emiliano Zapata, and Higuera Blanca – in total about 3,000 people including 1,200 school age children. The FPM includes these areas plus a region from Nuevo Vallarta to north of Sayulita.
2. The Fundación supports local causes as well as 20 other charities across its domain. PEACE is centered on the education of children and the psychological support of people who need it in the three towns.
3. The overlap of indirect costs is not as pronounced as one might imagine.
4. The PPM Board is a concentration of homeowners who reside inside the PM Gates while those of the Fundación come from regions that mirror its geographical spread. Consequently, so do most respective donors.
5. FPM attains small financial grants from affiliated national organizations. PPM has received significant endorsements from the State of Nayarit Department of Education and now is known at the Federal Level which bode well for the future.
At season’s close, FPM has decided to concentrate on its slate of activities in the near term, and both entities have agreed to work together on projects of mutual interest. PPM welcomes further merger discussions anytime with our friends; meanwhile, it will continue to deliver its services in the most efficient manner possible and according to its strategic plan. I will update stakeholders if and when future developments unfold.