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"You can do it": Estefanía Martínez

Updated: Apr 10, 2022

An occasional series catching up with some of the Learning Center’s graduates. What are they up to now and, looking back, what were the most important lessons from their time at the Learning Center?

Estefania (Fany) was kind enough to say we could interview her at her La Tribunal where she works - I had no idea that this was going to turn into a lengthy tour of the fields surrounding San Bartolo Coyotepec as we tried to find our way past various ‘bloqueos’.

Nor had I realised that she’s now a mom. Romena, just over a year old, passed the time transferring the contents of Fany’s handbag into the car seat pocket. So on the journey there, we had plenty of time to talk about the joys and challenges of motherhood.

I’d filmed Fany back in 2015 and she’d talked then about her own mother, a single parent with limited resources who had pushed and fought so hard for Fany and her brother to be able to move forward in life.

“When I said in 2015 how she’d been able to push me and my brother forward without having many resources herself, I said it in all admiration” Fany says. “But now that I’m on this side, being a mother, I admire her twice as much because I go ‘Wow, it’s hard work for me, having a career, holding all it all together, supporting a child” And she did it with two!

“And I think she feels proud, not just being ‘the mother of…’, but also of being able to say ‘I could do it. A single mother, with limited resources, I did well for both of them.’”

Fany has had several jobs since graduating from University. She worked in public relations for different restaurants and spent a year in Puebla. When she decided to come back to Oaxaca, a friend offered her a job in the district attorney’s office, and now she works for the courts - an administrative role directing enquiries to the correct place.

For now this role suits her because it's a secure income and fewer hours than her previous job where she was working 6 days per week, so it gives her more time to spend with Romena. But it’s not where she wants to stay. “I don’t see myself in 5 years, in 10 years, in the same place. That would be a bit disappointing for me.” She's developing her own YouTube channel and hopes one day to be able to live off that. It's a mixture of a tour guide to places to visit in Oaxaca and some personal reflections - all presented with a pizzazz which shows a completely different personality to the restrained professionalism of her administrative role.

Watching her channel, you would never imagine Fany lacking confidence, but she says it's taken a lot of work to get to this point - and that's one of the lessons she wants to share with others through her channel and everything she does.

“When someone asks me, ‘How is it you have a degree or that you studied in the university?', knowing where I came from - a single mother who had to bring up two children - I say that I visualized it, I committed to it. …. That’s what the Institute gave me - the chance to realize dreams., that nothing is impossible and that there’s always someone, not necessarily in your family, who will believe in you and can push you to achieve that dream. So in the future, that’s what I want to do. Tell people that 'yes you can'. That’s what inspires me.“

In the Institute, they don’t just give you mentoring, or English classes, they give you the engine to create a network which is going to help you with your own project at a future time.

“The Institute [Learning Center] helped me in various ways - economically, because they believed in me that I could study at university; psychologically, because they were always there mentoring and supporting me; academically of course because that was a fundamental part in how I got good grades; but a lot was to do with the skills I learned in all the different workshops, particularly those intended to offer general help - like how to present yourself in public, how to deal with certain obstacles, So all those things together were what helped me.

But maybe more than all that, the strongest thing was having a really strong friendship with all of them. ... It’s inspiring how all of us have been able to pursue our goals, our objectives.”

One of the hidden engines of success for many wealthy young people is their connections - something that young people with limited resources lack. But this is one of the benefits Fany feels she's had from her close-knit group of students at the Learning Center.

“More than being an Institute, it’s a place where you can create a really good network. When I was coordinating ‘Designing your future’ I always saw a real motivation in all the students: that they wanted to learn, wanted to develop things and have an impact in their area….. Now I feel proud to have friendships amongst many of them and to be able to say ‘Ay, this person was able to do this, or this person is taking this project forward’. And now when I need something, I think ‘oh I can ask such and such…’. And that’s a great family, no? So in the Institute, they don’t just give you mentoring, or English classes, they give you the engine to create a network which is going to help you with your own project at a future time.”

Interview by Sylvia Hines, Communications officer, FOLC

Estefania update 2022

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