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Symbolic Monarchs in Mexico
By Estela Romero

Gallery 3
Overview | One | Two | Three | Four | Five

Gregorio Torres Quintero Elementary Hervidero y Plancha Community, Ejido Ocampo, Michoacán

This school bears the name of a famous Mexican writer, who fought for teaching schools in Spanish as the nation's only language even in spite of risking losing native-Indian languages in indigenous communities. Today there are serious educational projects for teaching native-indigenous languages in order to rescue them as part of our identity.

the school the school the school
Approaching the school grounds. Discussions of the monarchs with grades 4, 5, and 6. Group photo of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders and their butterflies.
the school the school the school
Sharing their Ambassador butterflies. It is so exciting to share messages from their new friends in the US and Canada. Lots to enjoy.
the school the school the school
Some contents of these boys' Ambassador butterflies!   Students in a great mood with the discussions.
the school the school the school
The small store at school for children to buy a snack at break time. A delicious "Chicharrón con Chile", --a flour-salty flake-- with very hot sauce on it, very comon and tasty for us. A candy pop is also cheap and enough while playing. A candy pop is also cheap and enough while playing.
visitor from home visitor from home visitor from home
Domestic animals from the houses around are also part of the school-yard scene. Once a week there is an open market where moms provide food for home and other things for sale.
Vasco de Quiroga School, Aporo Town, near Angangueo, Michoacan
Aporo is a beautiful, high quality private Catholic Franciscan School (from the only two private schools in the region, which some children from Angangueo attend). Most families in this town live from forestry industry and from relatives living in the USA. Journey North visits this school for some years now and both Nuns and children are really interested in caring of the habitat of Monarchs and the Oyamel Forests.
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Entrance to the school which teaches students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. Hallway at the entrance. Sixth graders begin writing about themselves.
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Sharing the beautiful Ambassador butterflies. Sixth graders share their butterflies. Fifth graders learn about Journey North and write about themselves.
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  Fifth graders share their butterflies. Learning in the 4th grade classroom.
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January 5 is special day for children in Mexico. It marks the day that Three Kings bring toys to the children.

In all small towns, local authorities are obliged to give a toy to every child in town to commemorate the Three Kings. Journey North was there documenting the moment at Aporo.

Children keeping warm in school because there are no furnaces. Fourth graders show you their Ambassador butterflies.
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When students arrived to school in Aporo town today, January 6th, the local authorities awaited for them with a toy in hand for each child.

They received good toys consisting of remote control motorcycles for boys and modern dolls for girls. The quality of the toy depends on the economic possibility for authorities. Many times some of these toys are donations from big companies. Luckily, most of the responses from these private companies are really positive.
Valentín Gómez Farías School Aporo Town, near Angangueo, Michoacan
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Street view of school entry.   Fifth and sixth graders show off their Ambassador butterflies.
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Children immediately recognize that the symbolic butterflies and letters have arrived through Journey North, and welcome US and Canadian children here in this photo. Diagraming the monarch's life cycle. Students often ride their bicycles to school. There is no public transportation to the school here or in many schools in the area.
School view The next photos show scenes from the town of Aporo. The streets of downtown should tell something about how old this town is (over 200 years) and how quiet life is over here; much quieter than in Angangueo. School view

When it is cold, chidren wear only an extra t-shirt and that will be enough to do the day. Here you have them enyoing outside.

This day it was very cold with some rain. It could even snow!

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Notice the old stone street surfaces. The town has a small, but really beautiful main square-plaza. In the town square the local authorities have decorated with a nativity scene for Christmas.
José Palomares Quiroz Elementary 2o. Cuartel de "La Rondanilla" Community
People in this region continue to keep really deep and strong roots and concepts to family ties, respect, and sense of belonging to our land, culture and traditions. Children in school communities are mostly extremely shy. Our bringing up in in the region (remember I, Estela, was born here), is very conservative in all senses.
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The outside of the school. Inside the school grounds where students in 3, 4, and 5th grade learn. All the students in the school gather with their Ambassador butterflies.
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When students arrive, they see their letters and symbolic Monarchs have arrived, and they greet Journey North with evident enthusiasm. Children are eager to write their letters to US and Canadian children. Writing about their community and family life, and their personal likes, is something they don't often do, so they are pleased to share.
School view In spite of having a sunny morning, it is rather cold, (around 4° C), however, our children are so used to cold mornings that they do not need any special clothes to bear the cold weather. Remember that in our homes, schools and working centers we do not have any kind of heating systems. We just adjust ourselves to the weather circumstances of the day. School view
  Walking to school with mom.
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Families owning land with pine trees harvest the resin as an additional source to their living. Pine resin has been used for a long time as a salve for bones' breaking in both adults and children. Here you see some sap waiting for harvest. The mere idea of installing artificial climate in our homes would make it absolutely unaffordable for our families. Natural gas is something which is only available in big cities, and even there is not so common. Natural gas and solar energy is something new and just starting in México.
Miguel Hidalgo Elementary School 1er. Cuartel de "La Rondanilla" Community
Eager students Eager students Eager students
Entrance of Miguel Hidalgo. To start, several volunteers rise their hands asking for the chance to "lecture" about Monarchs' life and importance of habitat preservation. Ambassador butterflies held by 3, 4, and 5th graders.
Eager students Eager students Eager students
Students enjoy answering questions from Estela and German.   During break time students have 20 minutes to play a game and buy a snack.
Eager students Eager students Eager students
End of the day. Some children walk home, and some take the bus. Waiting for the bus. If home is more than 1 kilometre away, the bus is available. It costs less than 6 pesos.
Educación y Patria Elementary 2a. Manzana de "Nicolás Romero", Community
One of the most distant schools in the mountains belonging to Angangueo, this school is located at the bottom of the mountains of the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary. Its population is very small.
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Arrival of Journey North and the little Volkswagon at the school.

Many know some facts about monarchs.

Can you find your butterfly? Students in grades 3, 4, and 5 share.
School view School view At break-time, the Municipal Presiden's wife, Mrs. Belém Urbina and her assistants, in her visit to all schools in the Municipality, came to this elementary school to give every child a small present due to the "Three Kings Day" Jan. 6th.
Students love to volunteer to come up to the front. Here they are labeling the parts of the butterfly.
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Children were full of joy for two reasons. They said, "It is a very special day today having had our letters from our friends in US and Canada and our gift from the Presidency".

Some children come to give farewell to Journey North, and while I get in the car, I assure them Journey North will be back next year.

Francisco I. Madero Elementary 2a. Manzana de "Nicolás Romero", Community, Ejido Angangueo
During this visit students reflect and consider the importance of protecting Monarchs in all possibe way. Monarchs are a very important part of the life in our region. Estela reminds them that they are the "Monarch Generation," since they have been born in a time when our region has become intertwined with the phenomenon of the Monarchs overwintering in our mountains. Monarchs have made our homes a world-wide known place.
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Approach to the school. Fourth, 5th and 6th graders Can you see your butterfly?
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Children love expressing about themselves in their letters to US and Canadian children.   The class received a book, Monarch Come Play with Me!
School view School view Students especially enjoyed sharing their own likes and dreams:
"My favorite dish is...", "In the future, I want to be/study...", or "We are .... people in my family...", evidently feeling proud of themselves... dreaming of what they would like to do in the future.
Niños Héroes Elementary "La Rosa de Palo Amarillo", Community
Estado de México.
Arriving at school Arriving at school Arriving at school
Students arrive for class at 9:00AM. Third and fourth grade students are eager to welcome Journey North and immediately recognize the symbolic butterflies. Third and fourth graders display their butterflies. Do you see yours here?
Arriving at school Arriving at school Growing corn, wheat and potatos are the only local ways for families to make a living. When this is not enough, oldest children in every family start to go to big cities looking for a job opportunity in order to provide some economic support to the rest of the family.
It is fun to work on the letters. Fifth and sixth graders display their butterflies,
Arriving at school Agriculture is a way of life here. Arriving at school
A farm field. Life on the farm.
11 de Julio Elementary "Palo Amarillo Community, Sierra Chincua Sancturary area
In this community, one of the most important points of the Mining Project of Angangueo will be located. The people of the Ejido of this Community of "Palo Amarillo", negotiated with the Mining Company the opening of that part of their project here, demanding great benefits for their schools, which will certainly be fullfilled by the Mining company.
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Arriving at the school. All 4 grades are together for the project. Grades include 3, 4, 5, and 6, All of the children in this photo showing their butterflies are the grandchildren of miners.
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During the presentation the students show their interest. And their excitement for the topic!  
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Children share what they know about the monarchs. Break-time. A very tasty (but not really nutritious) snack and some candies are available. This snack will give them the energy for the next almost 3 hours of classes when they'll rush home to have dinner.