By Marilyse Figueroa
In the months I’ve been in my position, I’ve had the opportunity to see ABC take steps forward towards our growth. Acquiring the Bat Mobile has been a huge part of this, and it’s been amazing to see the simultaneous transformation of the bus and our organization which is changing and growing from the inside out. I will be moving on to a teaching position with St. Stephen’s in the fall, but before I go, I want to tell you about the journey that ABC and I have been on these last few months.
We partnered with SOMA Small Spaces to turn our bus into a classroom and library. Right now they are in the final stages of retrofitting the interior. With SOMA, we’ve been able to take sketches and turn them into a tangible reality. Our students will have places to sit, lounge, and desks to write down their most imaginative thoughts and ideas.
We’re excited to see the bus change from a vehicle for city transportation to a full blown dreamscape for kids and teens in Del Valle! In designing the interior of the bus, we asked Austin-based artists to create a fun and safe place where kids and teens in Del Valle could be inspired by their surroundings without having to travel to a gallery or a museum in Austin. We also wanted these surroundings to reflect the communities we work with which are mainly Latinx and African American. We have to thank our community partner from MexicArte Museum, Paulina Dosal-Terminel, for helping us find these artists, and for being our Art and Design consultant throughout this process. Dosal-Terminel will help ABC paint the front of the bus by incorporating drawings from Del Valle Elementary students and the mythologies of Latinx, Afrolatinx, and African cultures. In the fall, she will be facilitating a group mosaic project on the front of the bus with each of the Del Valle schools and their students.
Del Valle Independent School District’s amazing after school program, LEAD, is one of our most important partners and collaborators in this process. We can’t wait to be more involved in supporting young voices here!
Though I am leaving my role with ABC in the fall, I know the transition will be bittersweet. I do have some advice for the next person in my position, and I encourage them to take this lesson to heart: What’s close can be far, and what’s far can be close. From what I have learned in my visits to Del Valle and with its after school program specialists, distance and accessibility is part of Del Valle’s story. We hope the mobile program can bridge the distance between rural communities and the Austin metro area. We hope rural communities will continue to have more access to programs that will enrich their students’ education. We know ABC’s regional program can do this by listening to what the Del Valle community wants to see in Del Valle schools.
And another thing. Next Regional Program Manager, I am already envious of you. I am envious of what you are going to hear from the Del Valle students. I know it will sound like carefree laughing in two languages, the scratching of pencils manifesting dreams; it’ll sound like growth, stretching and bursting out of the seed this community, Austin and Del Valle, has planted together. Though I am not ready to let it go, now it is someone else’s turn to nurture the ground here, and I look forward to seeing it grow.
To apply for the Regional program Manager position, click here.