Delivering Joy to Children

Our incredible students delivered toys to the children in their communities yesterday for Día de Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day/Epiphany)!

In Mexico, many children receive gifts on Día de Reyes Magos instead of Christmas — and we LOVE seeing our students make this day so special for the children in their neighborhoods.

These young people are AMAZING! They inspire us to love, lead, and celebrate every day.

A note from Amelia, one of our girls

Today, we join with organizations around the world to celebrate the International Day of the Girl — an annual reminder to stand up and create opportunities for girls.

Here at Hands Offering Hope, we responded to the unique needs of the girls in our programs by building the Women’s Collective, a group of women who raise support and advocate on behalf of girls in Mexico. And this fall, we launched the Women’s Collective mentoring program.

Our female students are matched with professional female Mexican leaders — women who understand the realities of our students and provide them with regular encouragement, support, and advice.

Here is what our student Amelia shared after her first call with her mentor,

“My mentor Teresa and I have so many things in common. We both love to dance, we both love helping others — and I learned that when she was young, she had the same doubts and fears that I have now. Things like: What am I going to do after I’m done with high school? Will I be successful? Will I live up to my expectations? We will talk about all these fears and doubts in our calls — and I know that she is a kind and safe person who I like a lot. I think we are going to be great friends.”

We believe every girl deserves to know she’s not alone, and that she can overcome the obstacles in her path to reach her dreams. This mentorship program provides a monthly checkpoint to help our girls set goals and receive encouragement to reach them.

Thank you for making relationships like the one between Amelia and Teresa possible. And thank you for standing up for our girls.

World Teacher’s Day

There’s a quote from Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis that I’ve been reflecting on this week:

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”

I keep coming back to it because it reminds me so much of our incredible instructors at the Institute each summer. Our teachers are experts in their fields—busy people from around the world who carve out time to invest in our students because they believe in the power and potential of young people.

It’s amazing to watch them build bridges, share wisdom, and teach from the heart—and it’s a joyful celebration when we get to step back and watch our students take the lead.

So today, on World Teachers’ Day, join me in thanking the incredible, dedicated, enthusiastic instructors that care so deeply for our students.

And I encourage you to take a moment today to send a note of gratitude to the teachers who built bridges for you, too! Each one of us has gotten to where we are because teachers helped pave our way.

What the Institute means to me

For those of you that are new to Hands Offering Hope, I’m Adiel Dominguez. I’m one of the members of our Executive Team—and I was raised in Chiquilá, Mexico.

I met my wife, Amy when I was just a kid, and for decades we have watched my hometown grow and change. To get to be a part of the Institute for the last 5 years has been incredible.

Here’s why:

It has transformed the lives of young people in my community.

In a place where so many of us were told that we couldn’t do much, the Institute has planted seeds of confidence, boldness, and hope. You know it because you’ve heard their stories. I know it because I experienced it myself.

(That’s me in the red!)

This summer, I got to teach my first class at the Institute. As a professional artist, I got to show our students how to use art to express themselves. To tell their stories.

At the beginning of the week, we started painting (and learned this important lesson):

“Have patience with yourself. Nothing comes to full fruition in just one year.”

For people from my area, flourishing can be hard. People often don’t have a lot of resources or opportunities. They might have challenging family lives. Or they might be told that they will never be good enough.

At the same time, they are teenagers. So their tough circumstances are on top of the same difficulties every kid has trying to figure out their future. They can be uncertain or rebellious or nervous about making it all work.

So, to them (and to me), I say, “Have patience with yourself. You can (and will) get through this—and from my perspective, you will do big, awesome things.”

At the end of my week of class, I watched my students proudly show off the work that they had created. It was such an amazing moment.

One of our projects had been those feathers you saw earlier. Each student made one independently—to represent how we are all individual and unique. But then we put them all together. Because in order to fly, we need each other. We can’t do it on our own.

And just look at the result.

This is what happens when we support each other. When we bring our best to the table and help other people do that, too.

This is what the Institute has done for my home.

It has brought together amazing people from all over the world to help the young people in my community fly.

And I am just so grateful that I get to be a part of it.

Thank you,
Adiel Dominguez

Reflections on the First Week

When we started the Institute five years ago, we had it in our hearts and minds to raise up leaders so that, one day, we could hand off this initiative to them. We believed that they would take it further than any of us could ever dream.

Friends, it’s happening.

I am still in awe of the fact that we are living in this moment right now. And while this is absolutely incredible in the big, grand picture, it is perhaps most special and powerful in the small details.

This summer, we have a program staff of over 25—and only 3 are from outside of Mexico. We knew we needed to build a robust orientation, so, with the help of Sabrina and Alejandro, we planned a week of team building, information sharing, and coaching to get everyone ready for the students’ arrival.

One of our sessions focused on our role as hosts here. It is our job to create an environment of welcome and wonder, not just for our students, but for our guests. This summer, more than 60 people are joining us to serve, support, and invest in our kids. And it is our joy to make sure they are invited in from the second they get off of the plane until the moment they return to the airport.

It has created a tone of celebration from moment one.

Perhaps the biggest celebration so far—and certainly the highlight for us as a leadership team—is the ownership and care that Sabrina and Alejandro have shown over every single detail. This is their Institute, and they are building it for those who will go after them.

This is the stuff world change is made of.

Seguimos adelante,

Amy

Here We Go!

HERE WE GO!

The Institute begins today, our students are about to arrive, and we are SO EXCITED.

We’ve spent the last week with our leadership team (over 90% of whom are local!), preparing for our students…and they arrive TODAY.

To get us in the spirit of a great summer, our Co-Directors, Sabrina and Alejandro, filmed this message just for you: