Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sister City 25 Year Anniversary - Pleasanton y Tulancingo, Mexico

Last week, my husband, Michael, and I traveled to Tulancingo, Mexico, Pleasanton's sister city, to celebrate 25 years of cultural exchange and friendship. Our Mexican friends went way overboard in welcoming us, treating the entire delegation to a reception never before seen!

As a bonus, we were able to meet our foreign exchange student's Mother, Senora Marta Del Blanco, who hosted our daughter, Sarah, some ten years ago, and who's daughter, Nadyr, we hosted that same summer. It was a very special time!

In addition, the two delegations distributed 260 wheelchairs to people in dire need. For the first time, I realized that the wheelchair program is not necessarily for the recipients, but really serves the caregivers. I couldn't have imagined what it is like to receive elderly gentlemen, thanking us, with tears streaming down their faces, pushing their elderly sons in new wheelchairs! It was amazing to me to realize that these elderly people have had to literally carry their adult offspring everywhere. The simple and rather inexpensive gift of a wheelchair is a life-changing event.

Thereafter, we visited the local orphanage, which is currently home to 24 little girls, ages 5 to 12. Most of these kids have been seriously abused, or flat out given up by their parents. They are very well cared for by the nuns, and attend the public school next door. They are clean, and happy. But, their plight is not over. The delegation struggles to find a way to bridge the gap - allow these girls the opportunity to continue through high school from a safe, loving environment, and hopefully, go on to college. Hopefully, we'll find a way to support these kids.

As you can see from my note, Michael and I enjoyed a very rich, life-changing experience, and we made a lot of wonderful new friends! If you have a high school aged child, and you would like your child exposed to a similar wonderful experience as an exchange student, please get in touch with the City of Pleasanton, ask for the phone number for Jorge Victoria or Pat Murray, and get involved! You will be forever grateful that you did!


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