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Madison East Raza United students looking for community support for educational and cultural trip to Tepatitlán, Mexico


Students of Madison East High School’s Raza United are embarking on a trip of a lifetime to Tepatitlán, Jalisco, México in late October and early November, and they are looking for a little community support to help get them there.

The students will be attending a college prep high school and experiencing the cultural richness of Día de los Muertos in Mexico, as well as learning about the Wixáritari peoples, the indigenous peoples from Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas and Durango.

“Many of these students have never been to Mexico or experienced important cultural events having to do with their own histories …. so this trip and this experience is important for them,” says Silvia Gómez de Soriano, a Xicana mentor for students at Madison East, an advisor for Raza United, and a co-founder of the Xicano Institute for Education and Self Determination, a program that helps students learn about their self-identity and cultural roots.

Gómez de Soriano, a bilingual resource specialist at Madison East High School, is also a member of the Madison/Tepatitlán Sister Cities, Inc committee. She recently embarked on a cross-cultural Sister City service trip to work on a mosaic mural project in central Mexico at an elementary school in Tepatitlán.

There will be 10 students and four chaperones on this upcoming trip to Mexico. Once in Tepatitlán, the students will learn about the Mexican education system and embark on various cultural activities. The students have been fundraising in a variety of ways including a GoFundMe where they are looking for some community support.

Last week, the students held their first fundraiser at Garibaldi Restaurant called “Karaoke for Education.”

“That was very fun. We made a little bit over $1,000 which was good. It was very exciting,” Gomez says. “I honestly didn’t know what to expect and it came out great. And I’m excited for the next one, and so is everybody else. The next karaoke night fundraiser will be on Friday, July 21. At the same place — Garibaldi Restaurant.”

Silvia Gómez de Soriano

The Raza United students still have a few months of fundraising left…. the trip is planned for Oct. 25-Nov. 5.

“On the trip, the students will be attending school at a college prep high school called Preparatoria Regional de Tepatitlán and getting to experience being in school there,” says Gómez de Soriano. “The students will be participating in the annual Juglarías event, a fine arts showcase celebration and parade and will be collaborating with local high school students in making floats of a scene in a book or a movie or music or whatever in the fine arts they choose. And they will be participating in the parade and joining in the activities that the high school students will be doing during those first three days.”

The students will be in Mexico during a very exciting cultural time — the celebration of El Dia de los Muertos. “This is something that we are all excited about. I’m going to be honest, I’ve never been to a Dia de los Muertos in Mexico so this will be new to me, too,” Gómez de Soriano says. “So I’m excited.

“The majority of these students haven’t been to Mexico. And one of our students does not actually have any kind of Latino background … he’s actually Arabic, but he’s very involved with Raza United,” Gómez de Soriano adds. “He applied for the trip and he wrote the essay and did the other requirements, and he basically checked off all the boxes, and I was like, ‘Okay, let’s go!’  So it will be nice to have him also learn about our cultura.”

Students will go to museums and archeological places and will be visiting and touring local universities including the University of Guadalajara. Along the way, they will be learning about the rich and beautiful culture of Mexican art, food, music, history, and so much more. The students will also engage in a community service project with one of the least privileged elementary schools in Tepatitlán.

“The students will bring games and school supplies as this elementary school does not have many school supplies or games,” says Gómez de Soriano. “They are a very underfunded elementary school and teachers have to pay out of pocket for many of the supplies, which is often too costly for teachers. Students will engage with the students and hopefully learn quite a bit from each other.”

Gómez de Soriano says that she hopes the trip will become an annual experience for Raza United high school students. Every year she hopes to take a new cohort of students.

“This will be a great experience for our high school students. We are looking to get some community support. We appreciate the support we are getting,” says Gómez de Soriano.