The classroom mural at Driggs Elementary
We didn’t mean to do this project in secret. But now that we look back, we realize we did kind of stealth-paint this classroom mural at Driggs Elementary School.
The world map was painted in Driggs Elementary’s Dual Language Classroom, where students participate in an invaluable dual language program. If only every school had a program like this!
Once again, it was one of those amazing above-and-beyond teachers that brought us in and connected us with the school. Claire runs the dual language program at Driggs Elementary, and she reached out to us about painting the world map in the classroom.
We said yes for so many reasons! First, the Driggs community brought us in like family over summer 2020, and this felt like a perfect way to say thank you. Second, we both have a connection to world maps that affected us greatly when we were growing up…
Why painting a world map was so meaningful
José loves to tell the story of the first time he saw a world map.
He was about seven, and somehow he had made his way to the principal’s office. While he was waiting for the principal, he noticed a globe on the principal’s desk. He picked it up and scoured it to find Nicaragua. In his words:
“When I found Nicaragua, I couldn’t believe how small my country was compared to the rest of the world. My mind was blown. I realized that the world is such a huge place. That was when my desire to travel and see the world started.“
For me, I have a special connection to world maps in Spanish classrooms.
My high school Spanish teacher, Señora Fox, was a force of nature. A no-nonsense gal, she shot from the hip and expected hard work from all her students. I loved her.
Her classroom was a little sanctuary for us Spanish nerds. It was decorated top-to-bottom with colorful fiesta banners and trinkets from markets across Central America. And a giant floor-to-ceiling map of the world. She encouraged us to travel, see the world, and broaden our horizons every chance she got. She’d point to the map and say,
“Look at it! Look at all the things to see and experience! All the different ways of understanding things. Seriously, you guys, when you graduate, get the heck out of here and go see it all!”
The amazing thing? Señora Fox was from Nicaragua, and she fled the same conflict that also brought the Vilchez family to the USA. She passed away nine months before I met José. And oh how she would have loved him! It makes my heart ache every time I think of it. Her encouragement and outlook had such a deep impact in my life, it is amazing how profound that influence went.
So when the opportunity came up to paint a world map in a Spanish classroom, you bet we said yes.