Music thumped through the palapa as a group congregated in the middle of a dance floor around a young woman in a beautiful, light pink dress. It was a traditional quinceañera for a girl turning 15-years old, but what was less than traditional was the crowd of girls around her, laughing and dancing in unison.
This type of unity doesn’t always happen naturally; sometimes, teen girls from any culture can fall into cliques and feel competitive. Recently, something shifted and brought the girls together in a new, stronger way: they formed a soccer team.
“One of my great passions is for teen girls to feel connected and to encourage one another,” shared Sara Jensen, Back2Back staff. “For a year, I’ve been hosting girls’ nights to foster conversation and camaraderie, and a few months ago, we formed a soccer team just for them.” The male Hope Program Students have long been part of Los Dos (roughly translated to mean “I am second”), and the girls always admired from afar the ways their peers played, bonded, and grew together. For many years, there was a lack of overall interest and number of girls to have their own team, but now it was their turn. Once training, drilling, and playing started, the young women connected quickly. Staff see their self-esteem and confidence growing daily, as they see results in their abilities and their friendships blossoming.
The teens have since taken their connections off the field, and recently they took the initiative and planned a night together. Together they enjoyed coffee drinks, played games, and had intentional conversation. The following week was the quinceañara, and the team gathered to celebrate their friend and enjoy each other’s company. This bonding taking place is a direct reflection of God and how He will use anything – including an empty field and a soccer ball – to forge connection and bring healing.
To Ring the Bell
The ringing of the bell on Monterrey’s campus is a tell-tale sign victory is at hand for Hope Education Students. A highlight for many, the bell is a gathering place for staff, Hope Parents, mentors, sponsors, and friends of a teen as they celebrate graduating high school or university. The sound of the bell makes one thing clear: a goal was set and it was achieved with excellence.
At the end of December, another fortunate and hard-working student had his opportunity to ring the bell. Alphonso* completed university at the end of 2020, earning a degree in accounting, and was thrilled to share his celebration with the many safe adults in his life. This is a significant achievement for Alphonso. He was able to attend university and work, all while becoming the first college graduate in his family!
Alphonso completed his educational goals with very little complaining. “He is always happy and always positive,” shared Aracely Flores, Back2Back staff. “He credits the many people who helped him along the way with why he has so much laughter in his life, as he wasn’t sure he’d ever finish school.”
Together, we celebrate and honor students like Alphonso, who forge new paths for themselves and never lose sight of the support systems that got them there.