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Autumn 2019

The Oaxaca Learning Center appreciates your contributions, feedback and any email changes. Please write us at our current emailing address.

We invite you to visit the Center at Murguia #703 when you're in Oaxaca, and for Center business, contact Jaasiel Quero or Susan ConnorClick here for the Learning Center website.

When you’re buying on, don’t forget to go first to Select "Friends of the Oaxaca Learning Center" as your charity, and Amazon will donate .5% of your purchase price to FOLC.

Note: If you are having trouble opening the videos or links, please click (at the top of the newsletter) "View this email in your browser".

Saludos from Jaasiel Quero
Director of the Oaxaca Learning Center

Fifteen years ago, Gary Titus, a former community organizer from San Francisco, had a vision for Oaxaca. It grew out of the informal mentoring of youth he began soon after he arrived here. What he saw was an organization that would help young Oaxacans stay in school by supporting their academic development and helping them to develop the personal and professional skills that would open doors for them in the future and also benefit their families and communities. That vision became the Oaxaca Learning Center (TOLC).
When I met Gary, I was working as a teacher. Eventually I became the director of TOLC. Together we created an organization that focuses on gender equality, leadership development, academic tutoring, career planning, and social responsibility, with the goal of reaching hundreds of students from underserved communities.

In February 2020, we will celebrate our fifteenth anniversary by recognizing the impressive accomplishments of our students and also looking ahead to the next fifteen years. Gary Titus devoted his time in Oaxaca to improving the lives of young people, and we honor him by continuing his legacy. Our plans for a “Celebration Month” are presented later in this newsletter. We hope that you will join us in this milestone event and continue to support the important work of the Oaxaca Learning Center.
Please click to see the video
Summer School
Twenty-nine junior and senior high school students participated in this year’s summer school (Curso de Verano), which included mathematics tutoring, ongoing English classes, workshops, and cultural and team-building activities. The workshops included yoga, painting, self-defense, and an introduction to robotic technology. Students visited the Contemporary Art Museum and the Museum of Oaxacan Painters, as well as the Oaxaca Lending Library. This eleventh year of the summer program ran four weeks with students attending classes for twelve hours each week.
Please click to see the video
“I learned a lot during this summer course, including how to defend myself and how to use mathematics in everyday life. In English we worked on building vocabulary and improving pronunciation. Our instructors were very attentive and friendly. I highly recommend the Learning Center for anyone interested in learning new skills and growing as a person.”
—Vianney Jiménez Cruz, student
SAVE THE DATE:  November 9
Conversation with Students, Parents, and Tutors
For many who attended this year’s Open House, the most fun was having the opportunity to talk directly with students, parents, and tutors. On November 9 at 2:30, you will have a chance to experience this again, this time at the Murguía location. We chose this hour of the day because students will have just finished their English classes. In giving them a chance to practice their English immediately after class, you will also be experiencing firsthand TOLC’s impact on their lives.
For more information contact us
A Month of Celebration, February 2020
In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Oaxaca Learning Center, a week of classical music and jazz at various venues will culminate in a “Gala Celebration” on Saturday, February 22, which will include a concert by the award-winning Camerata Oaxaca featuring New York-based cellist Ben Larsen. There will also be presentations from graduates now in professional careers and a tribute to the Center’s staff, tutors, and donors. Jaasiel Quero will give a brief overview of the accomplishments of the past fifteen years and plans for the future.

Dates for the events are:
  • Sunday, February 16—concert by New York-based jazz pianist Hyungjin Choi
  • Tuesday, February 18—private recital for Gala sponsors by acclaimed cellist Ben Larsen
  • Sunday, February 22—Gala Celebration for students, parents, tutors, sponsors, donors, and supporters

Please contact us for details and reservations.
Please click to see the video
English class under way
Graduates of the English language program
Contact us
Mid-Year Fundraising Drive:  A Special Challenge
Earlier this year, Mexican President AMLO’s unexpected withdrawal of financial support for nonprofit organizations dealt us a stunning blow as we had come to rely on an annual federal grant to help with the expanding demand by Oaxacan youth for our program. So, we appealed to you, our supporters!
Thanks to supporters and matching contributions by four anonymous donors who stepped up without hesitation, we are close to achieving our goal of raising $21,000 to fill that gap this year. Matching continues through mid-October, so you can still make a donation that will be doubled! You will be giving an extra boost to the Learning Center’s ongoing efforts to improve the lives of Oaxaca’s young people.

Also, in order to avoid a shortfall in the future, we are aggressively pursuing philanthropic opportunities in Mexico, the US, and even the EU. We are committed to reducing costs without diminishing the program.
Interview With a Parent
Ezequiel Manuel Ramos Ramirez
We can learn a lot about the successes of the Learning Center by talking to the parents of our students. In an interview with Ezequiel Manuel Ramos Ramirez, father of student Irlanda Daniela Fuentes, he told us that he credited the Learning Center with helping his daughter both personally and academically. She overcame her initial shyness by participating in the Center’s workshops and group activities, and was able to finish high school at an advanced level of English because of the English courses and intercambios offered at the Center.
Please click to see the video
Spotlight on Mirell Duarte Méndez
Mirell has been a familiar face at the Learning Center for ten years. She has served in numerous capacities—wherever there has been a need—but is currently involved in applying for funding for the Learning Center and for designing educational projects for the Learning Center and neighboring communities.

At the suggestion of her friend and fellow classmate Sonia Bautista, she came to the Learning Center while in her third year at the National Pedagogical University in Oaxaca City. Eager to put into practice what she was learning in college, but also anxious for an income that would support her and her young son, she was thrilled to be hired as Coordinator for Academic Advice. She has since gone on to receive her bachelor’s degree in Educational Intervention and a Master’s Degree in Educational Research.
Mirell grew up in a large, close-knit family in nearby Santa Maria Atzompa, the town noted for its unique green pottery and hilltop archeological zone. She is not the only one in her family to have benefited from TOLC’s support. Two of her sisters and a brother have been actively involved with the Learning Center. Her son, now age fifteen, is attending high school and credits the Learning Center with helping him to pass his entrance exam.

Always determined to stay ahead of the curve in the field of education, she is constantly studying. She plans to go for a PhD in Education and to teach at a university, specializing in Educational Assessment. But she will always be connected with the Learning Center. According to Mirell, “Working at the Learning Center is for me not an ordinary job. The Center has been a place for me to grow as a person and as an educator. It has given me the tools I need to make some real changes in Oaxaca.”
Sudden and Profound Loss of Our Dear Jack
Jack Nyhan, friend and mentor to many students and a member of the Friends of the Learning Center board, passed away in Oaxaca three weeks ago.

Jack became a dear friend of Gary Titus, our founder, shortly after “retiring” to Oaxaca in 2001. He was a workhorse at the Learning Center even before it was formally established. Indeed, Jack created our US not-for-profit corporation in 2005 and continued to use his considerable legal, banking, and philanthropic skills to support the Center as a board member. What Jack loved more than this important work, though, was spending time with the students and the leadership team whom he mentored. Our next newsletter will feature a detailed tribute to Jack. We extend our condolences to Jack's family and many friends.
Concert Dates
Please click to see the video
Due to the enormous popularity of our concerts, we are pleased to announce that the third season will begin on Sunday, November 3, at the Murguía location. The program will feature the award-winning Camerata Oaxaca and will include musical selections in a tribute to El Día de Muertos. It will be a chance to hear this group of gifted musicians up close and to meet with them afterwards. After only one year in existence, Camerata Oaxaca received the prestigious Laurel del Oro, a prize that also entails a commitment to bringing free concerts to marginalized communities and giving music workshops.

This year’s concert attendees will also be able to meet and talk with Oaxaca Learning Center staff, as well as students and their parents, before the concert. Doors will open at 3:15 with the concert beginning promptly at 4:00.

Concerts are scheduled for the following Sundays:
  • November 3
  • November 17
  • December 1
  • December 15
  • January 12
  • January 26

Those of you who have attended these concerts in the past love the intimate setting of the Learning Center, but recognize that seating is necessarily limited. We can accommodate fifty people maximum. Please contact us to ensure that you will receive the invitation and the chance to reserve a seat (s) one week before each concert.
Suggested donation for each concert is 300 pesos each. In order to ensure that all proceeds go to support the programs of the Learning Center, we are appealing to those avid music lovers among us who would be willing to sponsor a musician for $1,500 pesos per concert. If you would like to obtain more information about how to become a sponsor, please contact Mike Bronn:
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