Mundo de Talentos: Helping children in San Christóbal de las Casas discover their talents
Holland House Mexico spoke to Laura Baas and Eleni Asimakopoulos, two Dutch women with a mission in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. Together they founded Mundo de Talentos, an NGO for schoolchildren from 10-13 years, aimed to help them discover their potential and provide tools on how to employ their talents for a brighter future.
What does Mundo de Talentos do?
We focus on supporting children from public schools in Chiapas to discover who they are and who they want to be. We introduce them to passionate professionals from various fields such as medicine, tourism, art, biology, and journalism. In this way, we stimulate their curiosity and participation, so that they broaden their horizons and develop the confidence to choose their own path.
How it started
Eleni Asimakopoulos and Laura Baas met halfway 2016 in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, where Laura had been living for several years and Eleni made a stop-over during her year-long trip through Mexico. They immediately clicked on the importance of motivational guidance for youth, giving the fact that many young Mexicans drop out of school even before finishing the first year of high school, not only given the economic circumstances but also because of lack of inspiration and stimulation from their immediate social surroundings. The combination of Eleni´s seven years of experience at the Dutch vocational guidance program of IMC Weekendschool, and Laura´s extended knowledge of the southern Mexican sociopolitical context, proved to be fertile ground to start a program on interesting study subjects and professions similar to that of IMC Weekendschool, in Chiapas.
Made possible by Founding Partners
The first official 18 months of the program were made possible by funding of Damen Shipyards from the Netherlands, IMC Charitable Foundation from Chicago, DSM Nutritional Products from Guadalajara, and ReciclaCentro from Puebla, among many others. Students were introduced into subjects as broad as Journalism, Naval Engineering, Pharmaco-biology, Tourism and Architecture. Absolute highlight during the first project year was an excursion to the Naval Shipyard in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, to observe the construction of a state-of-the-art Marine vessel by Damen Shipyards.
Vocational guidance through WhatsApp sessions
After one and a half year of fully functioning with vocational guidance classes for children between 10 and 13 years old in Chiapas, Mundo de Talentos already faced its first challenge to reinvent itself. In the context of Covid-19, Mundo de Talentos has been organizing WhatsApp sessions with the students to continue offering inspiring content about the world of interesting professions. Founders Eleni and Laura are proud of the members of the operational team in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, who, together with guest teachers, have been able to design sessions from their homes and continue motivating the children to discover their own talents. Mundo de Talentos´ Facebook profile shows the students´ works of art: some of the second-year students even use the TikTok application to create professional looking videos while responding to the questions and challenges posed by the Mundo de Talentos teachers.
Plans for the future
Laura and Eleni are very pleased with the first results of the activities. One of the most important positive comments from parents about the project is that they feel that the world of their children has opened up since they started participating in Mundo de Talentos. Currently, the program is implemented with 80 students in two generations, and, if the Covid-19 context permits it, a third generation will enter the program in September. Apart from this, the Founders have plans to amplify towards Oaxaca. A local enterprise in the capital of this southern state has shown interest in partnering with Mundo de Talentos and implementing a pilot project in 2021 to investigate the viability of such an initiative.
In the meantime, to cover expenses for the coming school year, Mundo de Talentos still needs 10,000 USD for continuation of the activities with 100 boys and girls. Therefore, from June 8 to June 26, Mundo de Talentos participates in a crowdfunding campaign via online platform GlobalGiving. Readers of this article are very welcome to become a member of the Mundo de Talentos community by sponsoring the campaign or sharing the information through social media. Click here to help: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/vocational-guidance-for-children-in-mexico/