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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | December 2008 

Becados and Bambinos, My Passions
email this pageprint this pageemail usPolly G. Vicars - PVNN

Students patiently waiting outside the library to talk with us and to get their stipend

Students inside and ready

Finally! With Mariel and Ana Caty

Los Bambinos when they first formed their group

Los Bambinos posing for my camera

Getting ready to perform in Los Arcos in El Centro

From their 2nd album, Los Bambinos Salute the Beatles

Los Bambinos as they are today
Back in the early 1990's, in the introduction to my first book, Tales of Retirement in Paradise, I wrote: "My joy was so great when I quit smoking twenty years ago, I stopped strangers on the street to tell them, at length, of my elation. Since retiring to Puerto Vallarta, those same feelings of euphoria engulf me and the compulsion to share them with everyone is even stronger! Thus, this book. It all began after a day on the sea with our Spanish Maestro and his family. Exhilarated, filled with love and joy, I was compelled to record my feelings."

It has happened again! It all began last Saturday when Mariel de Fregoso, Ana Caty Fenyvessi, Linda Wirth, Cheo Rangel, Cuquita Preciado and I had a day, filled with incredible love and joy. We were not on the sea, or even on the beach, but in a most unlikely place to evoke such feelings. We were at Vallarta's impressive library, Biblioteca Los Mangos, sitting behind tables talking with each of the scholarship high school and university students of Becas Vallarta/America-Mexico Foundation - better than a day at the beach. Mariel and Ana Caty set up in one end of the room for the high schools students, while Linda and I, along with Cheo Rangel, set up on the other end and Cuquita brought the cash to be given out.

The students had been told they could come between 10 am and 3 pm, but many were there before 10, patiently waiting to be called. The purpose of this meeting was to chat with the students individually, ascertain what was going on in each of their lives and give them their scholarship money. The high school students get $5500 pesos for the school year and the university students $7000 pesos. They had received one half of this stipend early in the school year and this was the second installment to help them finance the second semester.

After all these years of working with the becados I had not interviewed the high school and university students having previously worked mostly with the junior high students. What a joy to see these handsome young people and to hear about their school experiences, what they are studying, how they are doing, what their plans are for the future. These young people, having had their lives changed through education, are almost ready to go out and change the lives of others and, indeed, the future of Mexico.

Young men and women filled the chairs in succession expressing their dreams and their appreciation of the help that Becas Vallarta was giving them. Some with us since junior high, are now on the brink of graduating from college. One senorita, with an almost perfect grade point average, had recently come upon hard times only two semesters from graduation. She was being forced to drop out of the university until someone steered her our way. Of course, we gave her a scholarship and now she is assured of getting the teaching certificate she craves. Where else could you feel such joy as was imparted to us from this young lady?

Our becados represent a cross section of career choices and home environments, but what they all have in common is intelligence, desire to learn and almost no money for anything other than the needs for basic survival. Some are studying teaching, others law, architecture, culinary arts, engineering, business, psychology, marine biology and all are excited, enthusiastic students.

Two of the young women brought their small children with them, coping with school and a family, but with not a trace of "poor me, look what I have to contend with." Inspirational? You betcha! I got home late in the afternoon, not tired, but exhilarated and more dedicated than ever to raising the needed money to not only keep this program going, but to expand it.

Still almost floating, Monday night I, with Husband, my good friends Margaret Tolton, Kai Doyle, and her sister Ellen, went to the Santa Barbara Theater to see Los Bambinos in Concert. Even though I was already so happy that Husband and I had chosen to retire to this true paradise and at our ages, had found our two passions, Becados and Bambinos, I still wasn't quite prepared for the feelings that overtook me as Los Bambinos belted out song after song, some in English, some in Spanish, some covers and many originals.

It was as if before my eyes, those young boys who used to walk the beach singing for $50 pesos a song, had turned into professionals who looked better and sounded better than any group I have heard or seen on radio or TV! That is not hyperbole. All you have to do is go to the Santa Barbara any Monday night to see their show and I know you will agree.

The audience last night sang along, danced along, clapped, whistled and stomped. Each Bambino gave his absolute all! Cousin Luis brought down the house with his range of voice, his dancing, his infectious smile! The eldest Bambino and the leader, Carlos, was on fire with his voice strong and true and his body making those moves that I believe only Latinos can make. Lazzarro proved his mettle on the electric guitar, as did Immer with the acoustical and his duties as MC. And of course, Giorgio, the baby, has found his voice and is no longer the boy soprano, but a man with a full, mature voice and a favorite with the gals, both young and old.

So while this isn't an introduction to a new book, it is something I had to share, and to invite all of you to join Husband and me in our joy working with Becas Vallarta and supporting Los Bambinos in their quest for the big time. Give me a call and I'll tell you more. Meanwhile, have a joyful holiday season and share your joy with all you meet.
Polly G. Vicars and her husband of 57 years, 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.

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