To Leave a Mark

Jun 30, 2016

Steph Duff

The white-walled classroom holds desks with blue seats and small pieces of wood for note taking. To students who attend everyday, it is simply another room allowing them to further their education. To the children of Del Norte, the bright room with the projection screen whispered of future endeavors, of dreams realized, of a new page in the story.

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Recently, the older children, ages 9 to 14, at Del Norte children’s home in Monterrey, Mexico had the opportunity to visit Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon. Alejandra, daughter of Back2Back staff and volunteer, attends the university and felt called to create an opportunity to expose the children to a college atmosphere.

“Many of the kids, if they choose to attend college, will be the first in their families to do so,” explains Alejandra. “We wanted to help them see and understand college is not a scary thing. Without someone older within their family to share what college is like, the children allowed their thinking to be led by the fear of the unknown. We really wanted to broaden their perspective of higher education and help alter their thinking. Our hope was the exposure would be a tangible way for them to see it is a place with trees and classrooms just like their own schools; it isn’t scary, but there to help them.”

Back2Back staff, Alejandra and Marcelino, a few of the Hope program teens, now in Transition, and volunteers participated in the field trip. While visiting one of the classrooms, the children sat at the desks while the Transition students presented about how their lives have been changed through the Hope program and attending college.

One student who shared, Enrique, left a deep impression on the Del Norte children as he grew up in the very home they are currently living in.

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“It really meant something to the kids to hear someone who had a story quite similar to their own share about his successes,” explains Alejandra. “They immediately felt a connection with him and his situation.”

The young, impressionable boys and girls of Del Norte were able to see tangible proof you can grow up in a children’s home and go to college and achieve your desires. They are coming to realize where you come from does not determine where you are going.

Alejandra and her classmates were able to intentionally ask the children about their hopes and aspirations.

“Many of the younger kids immediately answered about what they wanted to be when they grew up, but a couple of the older girls weren’t as sure,” Alejandra says.

This allowed her to come alongside each girl and ask about their passions, what made them happy, what they liked to do.

“It was a cool opportunity to encourage them to see what jobs they could have that would allow them to pursue those interests.”

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Following the field trip, the children are eager to ask each new person they meet at Del Norte, “where did you go to school? What did you study?” allowing staff to see a change in the ways they are thinking about their futures.

From a stance of unknowing and frightening to one of inquiring where people went to college and why, the children at Del Norte are realizing they, too, play a part in helping people, rerouting history, and leaving a mark of their very own.

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Steph Duff is a writer, daughter, sister, and really loud laugher. By day she lends her voice on behalf of orphaned and vulnerable children with Back2Back Ministries. By night she is readily found with her nose in a book and spending time with her dog, Telulah. At all hours, she can be found consuming copious amounts of coffee. She feels most herself in the heat of India and prefers her mugs big, her books long, and her words intentional.

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