N4 Teacher Spotlight: Maru Castañeda

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Our annual summit brings our far-flung Narrative 4 family together in one place. The best times are spent together, catching up and hearing about how N4 students and teachers are changing their communities through empathy. We are so inspired by their energy and accomplishments. Over the next few months, we will be spotlighting their work in our One Minute Weekly updates. This week, we are proud to feature Maru Castañeda of the American School of Tampico (ATS) in Tampico, Mexico (featured above, left).

Maru is the head of the ATS Spanish Department, as well as the National Honor Society advisor. She and student leaders Carla Domingo and Karla Monroy have been instrumental in building the relationship between Narrative 4 and ATS ever since their first story exchange. All three were 2016 summit attendees!

We spoke with Maru recently about her summit experience, her involvement with Narrative 4, and her community interests. Her responses are in Spanish, followed by English translations (in purple).

1. Can you share a stand-out memory from this year’s Summit?

Definitivamente mi primera story exchange de mi vida, fue increíble, no pud e haber sido bendecida por tener mejor compañera a Lily Khoury, nos conectamos de una manera impresionante y ese momento estará por siempre en mi corazón. Me permitió compartir emociones que tenía dentro de mi pero al escucharlo y ver como mi historia la hizo suya y decirlo con su dulce voz fue uno de los momento más inolvidables de mi vida. Para mi últimamente es muy difícil llora y ese día logré sacar todo lo que tenía guardado por mucho tiempo y su historia y la mía se conectaron increiblemente.

[Definitely my first story exchange of my life. It was incredible. I could not have been blessed with a better partner than Lily Khoury [from Israel]. We connected in an extraordinary way and that moment will remain in my heart forever. The exchange allowed me to share emotions that were inside me, but to hear them and to see how she made my own story hers, how she told it with her sweet voice, was one of the most unforgettable moments in my life. Of late, it is difficult for me to cry, and that day brought out everything that I had held in for a long time. Her story and mine were incredibly connected.]

 

2. Tell us about yourself and your community.

Soy una persona que vive su presente, he aprendido a no estar pensando en el pasado y no vivir esperando del futuro. VIvo y siento cada día y estoy muy agradecida con la vida por lo que tengo y con esto me refiero a la gente que me rodea, soy una persona que le gusta estar en contacto con los demás. Soy muy feliz con mi familia de sangre y con aquella que yo elegí, como los amigos. Me considero una persona que sabe escuchar y dar un buen consejo cuando me lo piden. Me gusta sonreir a la vida aun cuando nos pone a prueba, considero que soy una persona que siempre logra lo que se propone, aunque a veces haya obstáculos no me doy por vencida y hago que mis sueños se conviertan en realidad.

Mi ciudad es Tampico, Tamaulipas, México. Es una hermosa ciudad con mucha historia, un centro histórico muy hermoso al mismo tiempo es bendecida por tener un increíble mar (Golfo de México) y ríos. La gente es muy amable y siempre te recibe con beso y abrazo, es parte de nuestra cultura. Desgraciadamente en los últimos años hemos vivido situaciones de inseguridad por tener dos cárteles de drogas, que han hecho de nuestro Estado uno de los más inseguros Aunque la comunidad ha sentido mucho miedo y angustia, no hemos dejado que esto nos aparte de nuestra ciudad y poco a poco la hemos ido recobrando, ahora en día estamos bien y volvemos a tener nuestra ciudad. En Tampico se encuentra la Escuela Americana (ATS) que abrió sus puertas hace 100 años y desde entonces forma hombres y mujeres de bien para enfrentarse a un mundo globalizado.

[I am a person who lives in the present. I’ve learned not to dwell on the past and not to live hoping for the future. I live and feel every day and I’m very grateful for my life and the people in my life. I’m a person who likes to be social and around people. I’m grateful for my family, the one I was born into and the one I choose like my friends. I consider myself someone who knows how to listen, how to give good advice when I am asked. I like to smile even when life tests us. I consider myself someone who accomplishes what I set out to do. Even if sometimes there are obstacles, I don’t give up. I make my dreams come true.

My city is Tampico, Tamaulipas, México. It’s a beautiful city with so much history, a city that is a beautiful, historic center while also blessed to have an incredible sea (the Gulf of Mexico) and rivers. The people are very friendly and always greet you with a kiss and a hug–it’s part of our culture. Unfortunately, in recent years, we have experienced insecurity due to two drug cartels that have made our state one of the most insecure. Though our community feels fear and anxiety, we haven’t let that fear take us away from our city. Little by little, we have been recovering. Now, we are doing well and we have our city again. In Tampico, you’ll find the Escuela Americana (ATS), which opened its doors 100 years ago and ever since has prepared men and women for a globalized world.]

3. What are some of the issues that matter most to you?

Me preocupa mucho la violencia que se vive en nuestro mundo, como dije anteriormente mi ciudad, Tampico, no está excenta de esta. Los niños y jóvenes están creciendo de una manera muy diferente a la mía o a la de mis padres o abuelos. Hubo tiempos donde los jóvenes vivían con miedo y sin entender que es lo que sucedía en nuestra ciudad. Pero este miedo es en todo el mundo y no creo que sea justo vivir en la angustia y no poder hacer de nuestro mundo uno mejor. Por eso tengo muy claro que para empezar a cambiar esto se debe de hacer desde nuestra comunidad para extenderlo por todo el mundo.

[I am very concerned about the violence, such as the violence in my own city Tampico, that exists in our world. Today’s children and young people are growing up in a different environment than I did or than my parents and grandparents. There are times when young people lived with fear and without understanding what was happening in our city. But this fear is felt throughout the world and I don’t believe it’s fair to live with this anxiety and to not work to make our world better. For this reason, I know that change must begin in our community in order for it to extend throughout the world.]

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4. What excites you about Narrative 4?

Para mi N4 significó un antes y un después en mi vida, me mostró que hay gente que sí se preocupa por los demás, que no estoy sola en esta lucha, que están dispuestos de hacer de este mundo uno mejor in cluso para nosotros, no solo pensando en los jóvenes. Me emocionó saber que hay gente con sentimientos nobles y que siempre están dispuestos a decirte unas palabras de aliento y darte un abrazo con mucho amor. Que finalmente esto es lo que necesita nuestro mundo: Amor. Creo firmemente en los principios de N4 y ahora están en mi.

[For me, Narrative 4 marks a ‘before and after’ in my life. It showed me that there are people who care about others, that I am not alone in the struggle, that there are people willing to work to make the world a better place for all of us. I was so thrilled to learn there are noble, supportive people who are always ready with words of encouragement and to give hugs with love. Finally, we have what need in the world: love. I believe strongly in the principles of N4 and now, these principles are part of me.]

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Read July 1, 2016

Tomorrow's leaders must learn empathy today.

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