Hispanic Heritage Month continues! From September 15 to October 15, we celebrate the contributions of all who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean. Hispanic Americans are a vital part of our country’s cultural fabric, from enriching our art, cuisine and music to serving the greater good through our military branches, medicine, education and so much more.

This month is the perfect occasion to share the latest news from our team in Mexico and the culinary program operated by our partner El Poza de Vida and led by Chef Itzel Cinco in Mexico City (CDMX). Students learn both culinary and life skills just like their American counterparts. Chef Ixel teaches both parts of the class, and in fact received her life skills training from our very own Executive Director Judy Lamborn! On the culinary side, students learn to make traditional Mexican dishes as well as pastries such as cinnamon rolls.

OGI Mexico Graduate Updates

While our Mexico program is still growing and transitioning to best suit those in the program, we wanted to share two success stories from Lola and Alejandra.

Alejandra, from the state of Tabasco, was OGI Mexico’s first graduate! She never thought she would find herself in CDMX, but when she connected with El Poza de Vida, she took advantage of the opportunity. Alejandra mastered the art of making bread and pastries and began selling her creations. She saved her money to buy kitchen equipment and returned to her hometown. Now, she and her parents run a small restaurant! We are delighted for Alejandra and her family and wish them continued success.

Graduation was just the beginning for Lola. The ink on her certificate was barely dry before she had agreed to take part in a program with World Vision—she would participate in an apprenticeship program to put her on track to work at Le Meridien Hotel. Lola was excited to begin the six-month training to build upon the skills she had acquired through our culinary program and be ready to start her full-time job at Le Meridien. But then the pandemic hit! The process is on hold, but Lola cannot wait to jump back into the program as soon at restrictions are lifted and it’s safe for her to do so. We wish Lola the best in her continued learning and in starting her career.

This is but a small sampling of our international work, carried out by partner organizations on the ground in those locations. Our international partners are essential to the success of our culinary programs and the students they serve. We hope you have found inspiration from Lola and Alejandra’s success this Hispanic Heritage Month. Be sure to check back in with us to learn more about our international programs in Mexico, India, Cambodia and Moldova!