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Gracias! Mexico donates books to schools



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Leonard student Melinda Mendez and Lakeville student Majerle Marshall present gifts to Consul of Mexico Vicente Sanchez Ventura. Speaking on the microphone is Oxford Spanish teacher Norma Parker. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
September 29, 2010 - Lakeville Elementary got some experience in the realm of international relations Monday as the school played host to representatives from the Mexican Consulate in Detroit.

Consul of Mexico, the Hon. Vicente Sanchez Ventura, visited the school to present students with a "special gift" a collection of books, dubbed the "Bicentennial Library," encompassing a wide range of subjects and themes, all written in Spanish.

"I'm sure you will discover Mexico with this collection," he told students. "I promise to come here later and see how many of you have read these Spanish books."

Fifteen boxes of books for K-12 students were donated, according to Lakeville Principal Kristy Gibson-Marshall.

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"They're going to be shared across the district," she said. "Given the expense of books, I'm thrilled. There's an amazing amount of books there."

This generous gift is a way for Mexico to celebrate the bicentennial of its independence movement and the centennial of its revolution. It was 200 years ago the country began its 11-year war to win independence from Spain. It was 100 years ago that Mexico began its 10-year revolution.

"The Mexican Consulate that's located here in Detroit focuses on literacy, so that's what (Ventura) tends to give as gifts," Gibson-Marshall noted. "Which I think is quite smart, actually."

The collection ranges from books for beginning readers to Spanish translations of American classics like "Where the Wild Things Are," first published in 1963. Books on math, geography and Mexican history and culture are included as well as workbooks full of activities for elementary-schoolers.

"It was a pretty vast range," Gibson-Marshall said. "It hits every different genre you could possibly imagine."

The books are expected to aid the school district in its on-going efforts to make all students multilingual and more globally-minded.

The collection will be particularly helpful at Lakeville because the school has a number of students whose native tongue is Spanish or who come from homes where it's the only language spoken.

"They struggle to read here because learning English as a second language can be difficult," Gibson-Marshall said.

The school can use the English and Spanish versions of the same book to help them learn and follow along. "It's great for my kids who are Spanish-speaking to have some books in the library that they can use in their native language," Gibson-Marshall said. Ventura spoke of how the children in Mexico are interested in having "more connections" with American students.

"We think this is the best way to start the friendship, with children like you and with the children of Mexico," he said.

Ventura went on to tell students how culture and education, as embodied by this gift of books, are the most effective means for promoting understanding and "the roots of harmony" between people and nations.

"This gesture confirms and strengthens our profound friendship," he said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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