One of the sweetest moments I had during my time at Esperanza Viva happened on the day that I went back to edit the audio interviews with the video team.
A friend loaned us their car during our stay in Puebla so that we wouldn’t need to take taxi cabs and public buses, which is altogether a different type of an adventure. When you pull up to EV, short for Esperanza Viva, there’s a way of honking the car horn that basically means “open sesame” and results in the gate keeper opening up the gate so the car can drive in.
So on this day, I honk the horn, drive inside, park and as soon as I opened up the driver’s door there were five boys, ages 8-14, crowding in to pepper me with questions about the car:
“Is this your car?” – No. I’m borrowing it.
“Someone let you borrow their car?” – Yes. Can you believe it?
“Do you know how to drive?” – Yes. I do.
“Is it hard?” – No, it’s not too hard, you just need to practice a lot.
“How do you roll down the windows?” – With that button over there.
“What is this button for?” (As the 8 year old rolls up the window on German’s neck who had just poked his head into the car on the passenger’s side). – Please push the button the other way!
“How do you accelerate?” – With this pedal.
“Did you drive this car all the way from the States?” – No, my friend lives here in Puebla.
Which led to:
“Are you taking the car with you when you leave?” – Not, I have to return it.
“When are you leaving?” – In two days.
“Why are you leaving?” – Because I have to go back home.
“When are you coming back?” – Maybe in September.
“When is Valentina coming back?” – Yes, in September.
“What about the new video teacher, is he coming back?” – I’m not sure, would you like him to?
The boys were so, so sweet. At some point in time, there was a little break and I asked them if they knew how to drive a car:
“No!” was the all-around answer.
Well, do you want to learn? – “Yes!” “Definitely!” “Si!”
So who will teach you? – “I don’t know.” “We don’t have anyone to teach us.” “I think when we get older we can learn to drive the van if we work here.”
Conversations like these are so motivating to me. My Dad taught me to drive our pickup truck when I was about eight and my brother was driving a small tractor when he wasn’t much older than that. Granted, growing up on a farm made this possible because we had our own private roads and wide open fields with no one to run into. But still, we learned when we were young, got lots of practice and most importantly, had someone to show us how.
As of now, the kids at EV don’t have anyone that will teach them to drive*. They will have to wait until they are 18 or older and somehow take a class or find someone with a car to teach them. It blows me away to think that there are millions and millions of kids that don’t have a way to learn basic life skills, and even more that I personally know some of them.
Actually, something similar is what inspired Aver School. I knew some kids that wanted to learn about cameras and taking pictures that didn’t have anyone to teach them. Now they do.** And it feels great to be a part of this experience.
Anyway, back to the topic, driving a car seems like an important skill to have in the USA, although I’m also aware that there is a segment of the population that doesn’t own a car or drives. I’d love to hear about your experiences in learning to drive a car, at what age did you learn, who taught you? And what does being able to drive, or not, mean to you? What opportunities have you been able to take because of knowing how to drive? What would you have missed out on if you didn’t?
*This conversation happened on my last day at EV and I didn’t get a chance to ask a staff member about this. I’ve emailed them and am awaiting a response.
** Aver School workshops happen every year thanks to many caring supporters and professionals in the photo, video and audio fields that donate their time, money, energy and skills to the kids at Esperanza Viva. Special thanks to Maggie Pettit, Cormac Pope, Stan Hartmann, Chris Watkins, Valentina Vitols, Ryan Bello and Brett Renville for traveling to Mexico and for being so willing to share your expertise with the kids.