Hello dear ones around the globe, I’m Natalia Rojo, HundrED Country Lead for Mexico. It brings me great pleasure to share more about myself in this article. To start, let’s talk about the country I call home. You might recognize the shape of my country in your mind - it’s kind of a seahorse shape and, when you look at a map, we are among the biggest portions of land in the American Continent, meaning that across our beautiful country we can find all possible weathers and landscapes. I’m currently living in the central part of the country already heading to the north so the feeling is pretty much deserted, that means hot and sunny in the days and cold windy at nights. The state where I live is also well known for its beautiful architecture and colors.
My day-to-day looks pretty much the same from Monday to Friday, morning walks, home-based work, teaching in the community center, studying and training. I enjoy a cup of coffee and a delicious meal. I regularly spend weekends with my family or working on a particular project.
What made you excited about education?
My most treasured resource is the hopeful eyes of every child and teen I've crossed paths with while teaching.
Their curiosity and eagerness to explore and experience new things is a never-ending source of inspiration to keep me on this path as an educator. Even the ones who lack sparkle in their eyes are an eye-opener for me because it helps me realize that something has to be done to bring back their hope.
Since my early teenage years, I developed an optimistic attitude as a children's caregiver and babysitter. Ever since then I have been committed to providing safe spaces for children to be themselves, at schools or after-school programs.
In my 20s, I started a great journey. I began as an assistant to my violin teacher and conductor at the Basic System where I was studying SICOEM, HundrED 2019; there I found my calling for teaching.I then moved to Berlin to study and found my true passion, teaching through dance and arts. In this beautiful and challenging journey, I’ve found myself teaching and creating environments where children and teenagers can develop their creativity and abilities for life.
The inspiration to do what I do comes from life itself, my students, my teachers, and my family. Together with these wonderful people and gathering all my experiences, I’ve realized education is the path where change can be initiated, or at least where you can have the most positive impact on the community.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities for innovators in your region?
As I have mentioned above, Mexico is a big country and therefore we have a very diverse community. All this diversity is reflected in education, where we can find all possible schooling scenarios which go from multigrade public schools in marginal or rural areas to private colleges in the city. These types of schooling systems also depend on the state you are living in. This is all based on my observations as a student and educator in Mexico.
The innovations currently thriving in my country are the ones that are focused on helping minority populations or children in marginal situations. In addition to this, there are also other innovations that are targeted towards the private sector and working with more ‘advanced’ resources - to put it lightly.
I would think that the solutions needed currently are innovations that close the resource gap in education, so that at least in the education field there isn’t a huge disparity between the students who have a lot of resources at their disposal and those that have nothing.
What are the challenges that slow down innovation in your context?
There are several situations we can pay attention to and need to be considered in order to improve innovation. In a very positive view, no matter which one we choose as a starting point, it will have an impact on the other and create a chain reaction of impact, and that is what is most important.
A general lack of resources is what in my opinion slows down innovation in my country, human resources, economical resources, and political resources. So there might not be a determinative solution but there are definitely ways to improve the situation and meet the challenges.
Human resources are needed inside the classroom in order to support student learning. With more teachers you can have more rooms per grade or an assistant for each group. This can also help to prevent burn-outs among team members in a school.
In terms of economical resources, this goes into two levels: Infrastructure and Manpower.
You can find schools that don’t have the essentials to be able to provide good quality education and also sometimes a teacher might need a second job to balance their income in order to cover basic expenses, which leads to a diverted focus from teaching and planning and can lead to burn-out.
Last but not least we have political resources, where policies are made. Maybe, this is the starting point for everything because then there will be general laws that will apply everywhere. However, the time it takes for policies to materialize can have an impact on our efforts at the other levels. This slows down improvement in education.
What little or big part do you want to play in improving education?
I’d like to impact my community from a very humble position where I can provide a safe space to share life experiences and exchange ideas that can help others. Sometimes listening and being listened to can make a great difference. To create a togetherness feeling, feel secure, and be well accompanied to start leading the change in our communities and immediate contexts. Don’t seek perfection to start the action.
Let's not wait for the change to happen, let's make IT happen, or even better let’s BE the change.
At this moment in life, I’ve heard this statement several times or synonyms but it wasn’t clear to me until I saw how my actions actually have an impact in my context and how people can get inspired when they see someone taking action. All actions are valid and valuable when made on behalf of ourselves, our students, our classroom, our school, our community, our state, and our country.
A little part that will evolve into a bigger part of improving education in our contexts is taking leading the change above and applying it to the day-to-day. What makes you the best version of yourself will definitely have a positive impact on your community and will generate improvements.
Who would you like to see joining the HundrED community to accelerate the pace of change?
I aim for policymakers in the Education field all over the country (mine and others) to join the movement. You don’t need to get enormously involved, but getting to know what’s going on in your country might give you a big picture of what is needed in yours/ours.
I also think of an accelerator of impact and growth to have Open-Calls to apply for resources once or twice a year where new innovators can submit their innovations or ideas and get sponsored. Sometimes there are already great ideas going on and just a lack of investment to make them happen.
And, if that is not possible, the simple idea of having a bank of knowledge where you can easily reach out to someone that can help you unlock your mind and solve a situation would be enough to enhance this wonderful HundrED Community.
How does a future worth aspiring look to you?
A very dear person to me said:
Never stop dreaming, that’s what will make your dreams come true.
Somehow that can sound naive or childish but from my point of view, this will be the fuel that keeps you rolling along the road. Dreams are the sort of inspiration we need to feel like doing and actually make them happen. As a colonized country, we’re still in search of our own identity so let’s keep dreaming of what we want our identity to be in all matters, and let's find like-minded people to share it and start working towards it.
Human-based Education is the bigger dream I aim for. An education where students are no longer numbers but human beings willing to learn from life and also other skills. A field of work where teachers can accomplish their goals and still be having time to keep learning or have personal time without worrying about covering the essentials.
I dream of global education where autonomy is present, and freedom is encouraged. Of course, STEAM is also covered but that it is somehow already happening and the future is here, so we can start covering other foundations so that in another 10 years we’re whole human beings and have inspired others to seek wholeness.
Connect with Natalia on LinkedIn
If you are interested in joining the HundrED community, you can find more information here.