My home away from home
~ By Manny
Isla Mujeres has always been a second home to me. The first time I discovered this island was in 2013. Since then, I’ve visited yearly. I stay with a friend who is isleña and she treats me like a sister. Her and family have always made me feel so welcome. In fact, it is one of the reasons why I wanted to teach English in Isla Mujeres, so I could truly be part of this community. I’ve felt nothing but love here, and I wanted to return the favor!
Teaching in the schools has given me the opportunity to get to know more people on the island. If I’m at the market, I usually see a student with a parent. Usually the conversions are similar, but I always enjoy it. We talk about where I’m from and I brag about their child being a great student (because they are). Some parents and I have mutual friends. Their kids are my students and the students are shy to brag that I’m friends with their parents. One of the kiddos even told her classmates, I’m her Tia (aunt) because I’ve known her since she was a toddler.
Another reason why I love the island so much is the opportunities outside the schools! Literally, I painted a mural outside the school. I had the chance to be part of a skateboard-music-art festival, called Oasis Festival. I got to work with many local and international artists. I also met skateboarders and musicians. However, I was especially happy that my students and their families would stop and chat with me while I was painting the mural. The students that I ran into told me that they loved the murals. The next school day, they told the students that they saw me paint. Even the teachers at the school were happy to see that they knew one of the artists, the English teacher.
Honestly, this place is my home! I feel part of this community, I teach English in the public schools and I make public murals. I couldn’t be happier being in this place at this moment.