Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - In November Becas Vallarta chalked up a successful first Breakfast at Chef’s Bernhard Güth and Ulf Henriksson’s charming seaside bistro, Vitea and an amazing school tour of three of Vallarta’s best, Pesquera junior high, Jacobo high school and UNIVA university. December started with a fantastic Posada for all scholarship students and will end the month and the year with the ever popular La Palapa Breakfast on December 14.
The school tour reassured Becas supporters as to the quality of education offered by Puerto Vallarta’s schools. First visit was to Escuela Tecnica 15 - Pesquera, located on our beautiful Bahia de Banderas. Pesquera, the Spanish word for fish, is the appropriate name for this school that was founded in 1972 as a school to teach the young people all phases of the fishing trade, including marine biology. Additionally the school offered and continues to offer all academic courses found in a non-technical school.
We were greeted warmly by Pesquera’s Director Juan Carlos Esparza, Social Worker Isabel Jiminez Omelas, who co-ordinated the visit, Coordinator of Academics Imelda Carrillo who was a becada herself, along with our scholarship students. These young people presented us with a lovely framed reconocimiento and spoke to us about their program and their appreciation of the help that Becas Vallarta gives them.
It was a joy to see the results of our labor so graphically as they displayed their skills with such aptitude and grace. They had prepared fruit and juices and colorfully decorated the room for our pleasure.
This is the last time we will see this campus, as Pesquera is getting a brand new building in Fluvial. It is almost completed and will have three modules, with elevator, 18 classrooms, multipurpose laboratory, language laboratory, three workshops, an auditorium, art room, cafeteria, two warehouses, management, administrative area, library, nursing, vocational area, two modules rest rooms, parking for 75 cars, an indoor soccer court, a multipurpose court, playground civic, walkways and landscaping for an investment close to 20 million pesos. Presently Pesquera has 635 students with only a morning shift, but with the new location, most likely, the next school year will have to add an afternoon shift for the influx of new students.
Our next visit was to the Universidad del Valle de Atemajac (UNIVA) which is under the direction of Luis Zuñiga Bobadilla. In his online message he speaks of UNIVA as being one of the most recognized educational institutions nationwide for excellence offering an educational provision in the levels of high school, undergraduate, graduate and continuing education in the areas of Health Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences and the area of Business.
Director Luis had gathered the Becados that are sponsored jointly by Becas Vallarta, South Side Rotary and UNIVA to tell us about their experiences. They were eloquent in their praise of the help and the quality of education they are getting.
After a stroll around the beautiful campus to the well equipped library and computer lab Director Luis presented each of us with a gift of the best selling book “Mañana o Pasado, El Misterio de los Mexicanos” by Jorge G. Castañeda and an assortment of UNIVA trinkets. It was a great visit and we all left impressed with the school, the becados, the director and the campus.
The final visit was to Escuela Preparatoria Regional de Puerto Vallarta or "Prepa" as we call it. This is a college preparatory school run by the University of Guadalajara under the expert direction of Dr. Armando Soltero Macías, who was out of town during our visit. But Prof. Joel Gonzales did an excellent job of showing us the school with all of its innovative programs - both academic and social. He gave us these statistics: 1600 students in this Prepa, 1500 in the three other branches located in the villages of Tómatlan, El Tuito and Ixtapa.
The annual budget of one million USD per year contrasts with a comparable school in Illinois whose budget is $55 million. But what they do with that one million is almost miraculous. In addition to the fine regular college preparatory courses which are rigorous and top notch, the extra curricular programs are outstanding! For example they have the only high school Turtle Protection project in the world which attracts students, scientists and tourists from all over the world.
There is never enough money so the parents of this excellent school have worked exceptionally hard to raise funds to buy Mac computers for the very important design studio. The pride the students feel for their school is evident in the cleanliness and orderliness of the campus is well deserved as the parents, faculty and staff are constantly striving to make this the best school anywhere!
We concluded our Becas in Action School Tour with a delicious lunch at Los Alcatraces which was included in the $500 peso ticket. The consensus was that Puerto Vallarta has exceptional schools run by exceptional faculty and staff and the food at Los Alcatraces was delicious!
The next school tour will be February 16, 2012. You can reserve your ticket now with me at phvicars(at)gmail.com. You will have a fun and eye opening experience. Watch for my account of the beautiful December 3 Becas Posada with 300 young scholars.
Polly G. Vicars and her late husband, Hubert (a.k.a. "Husband") retired to Puerto Vallarta in 1988 and soon became active members of several charitable organizations. Polly is the author of "Tales of Retirement in Paradise: Life in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico" [a sell-out!] and "More Tales of Retirement in Puerto Vallarta and Around the World." Proceeds from the sale of her books go to the America-Mexico Foundation, a scholarship foundation that is their passion.
Click HERE for more articles by Polly Vicars, or click HERE to learn more about Becas Vallarta and the America-Mexico Foundation.