By: Diego Camacho
“Grandma Lucy: The Chance of Education”
In a small apartment in “Buen Consejo” in Rio Piedras lives Doña Luz Mangual a women with an especially light in her eyes. She helps her community and the elderly by taking them to the medical appointments and the youth too selling goodies alike. Doña Lucy like her community calls her in her family, she is special with her tan skin, black eyes, big smile but amazing will power, she started school in 2005 and ended 2013 with an education which help her understand her surroundings and help others.
Doña Luz is a woman who had live in poverty in her childhood but has with her will power and with the support of her family and friends had taken the poor education she had took her education in her hands and went to night school to learn the world because when she was little her family didn’t have the money to send her to school and in the tradition of those day when she was a child school where far away and the streets where made of dirt. In the days of the 1940’s Puerto Rico was suffering a political change and social change that bring the education to the masses but the reality is that the poor who lived in the “isla” (Island in English, a term use by puertorricans to denoted the rural part of the island) didn’t that opportunity if they were far away from the urban area of the island.
In the 1940’s the education in Puerto Rico was getting to the masses and everybody could if they had the opportunity have an education, from there on Puerto Rico have risen to the top charts of the most educated places in the world and had more college students that have to move out of the island because there are no jobs. The reality is that from the 1940’s the education in Puerto Rico have risen to the point that like Doña Lucy put it “Even to become a sweeper, you have to have a high school diploma.” This makes the situation that this day and age the education is a mayor requirement to understand the world, this is way Doña Lucy took an education to understand the world around her.
Doña Lucy prior to an education had learn to read by her own as she asked her mother who had Sears catalogs for the letter written in that catalog. Little by little Lucy learn how to read and defend herself in this world by reading, like she puts it “Whoever doesn’t know how to read is going to be stuck and can’t do anything in this world.” She at a young age around the age of 16 she work in the maintenance services and earn her first shoes which bring her a lot of happiness and hard work. Later she worked in a confectionery making “Empanadillas, Pasteles and Pastelillos” which she learn to do and right now are her income right now because she sells then to the community where she lives.
She married Don Félix to whom she lived with until his death, they had seven kids and Lucy tells us about how she felt sad when she couldn’t have an education because she didn’t have the resources when she was a kid and her husband didn’t allowed her to have an education. She added that she learn a little more when she sat down with her kids and read their textbook and she knew one day she was going to be in the shoes learning and having an education.
When her husband passed away she was sad and bored in her house but she knew something was going too happened. She went on two trips to Argentina and notices how people where not communicating in the right way. This and the dream of education pushed her to one day in her daily walks and talks in the downtown of Rio Piedras one of her friend told her about night school, she took that idea and went to a school near her one called “Republica de Colombia” and enlisted herself in night school but sadly the quorum of the class wasn’t meet and she had to go to “Gabriela Mistral” a school in San Juan about one hour trip in public bus transportation. There in the “Gabriela Mistral” she asked around and they had night school and her dream had started to take an education and use her time to study with great effort because she wanted to be the best in her class and help whoever needed help in the classes.
At first when she told her family about taking an education at the age of 67, her family joke around that she was too old but she knew that age is not a restriction to anything and went with great proudness to that school. At the beginning she receives great appreciation from students and professor that she was that old and studying. Lucy argument that she receives multiple times the argument “I that quit school and this old lady with that energy can do it, I can do it too.”
School was from Monday to Thursday from 6pm to 9pm but since she had to take a bus ride home she had to live early at 8:30pm so she can take the bus that arrive at that hour. Lucy was love by everybody since she had a joyful aura that everywhere she goes and smiles like she is full of live and this is her time to live what she couldn’t.
Everybody knew her ritual when she got to school and how she left, when she arrive to school everybody was shouting “There she is Doña Lucy” because she had her joyful smile and had candy to every one of the class and professor. When she left the school the bus driver was waiting for “the woman who take class in that school” and the driver greet her with happiness since she illuminated the bus with her happiness of making her dream come true.
Students in her class where in the majority drop out who had by different reason to take an education, some because they were pregnant, other because they didn’t she why to have an education and they were the other like Lucy put it the ones who are there have a document sign so they can have they financial help from the government. Those who were there for the document where the ones who didn’t like school at all and where outside but the professor told them that if they didn’t get inside they were going to fail but they got their document sign.
Many of the students in Lucy class like she told where there looking to get love and not study at all, therefore and not much student commitment only 12 students graduated from the program. The ones who graduated the program where the ones who but the effort in the program and had their goals in a better future.
When Lucy started school she notice she was understand better her surrounding thanks that she learn how to read in a faster way and understand more of every single thing in life. Lucy was famous in her class that anything she didn’t know she asked the professor and the professor where really good with her and understand her situation and where proud of her.
Lucy felt in love with history because it helps her understand why people are like they are full of miscommunications and sometimes evil in them. History class for Lucy was a way to understand the background of many thing that when she didn’t had an education where overlooked. But there on Lucy understudy more about this world and little by little understood that the problems in this world are because of people not understanding each other. With this and her trips to Argentina she understood that she needed to help the elderly in her community and take them to place because they need to be heard and care for.
Lucy explain her concerns in the school system right now because she had compared the school she receive and the one her children had and there are clearly differences because kids now a day have the internet and smartphone in which the homework can be done in there but the reality is that there are problems in this. Students now are more distracted that their parents when they were studying because students in the era of her children where schooled where more prepared. The students of those days’ decades ago where more cared by their parents because the things weren’t so available and they had to look for those materials, said Lucy.
Other concern Lucy says is that children right now are at the mercy of the streets because parent now a days are not caring for their kids’ education and the internet and outside forces are the ones doing the heavy lifting, this has to acknowledge because otherwise the more starter are going to be the elderly when the youth are the one who have to be more intelligent since they got more knowledge in their hands.
Lucy goals for the future are that she gets to help others and showed that caring in the world is needed and when she haves the time and money she is going to study nursing so she can help the ones in need. Some day she is going to travel the world helping other, she has plans that someday she is going to Guatemala, Costa Rica or Haiti.
Education is everything for me and if you don’t have and education you are pretty much doomed because the way to have the world at your feet is getting an education and that why I feel that I can do anything because I have an education, said Lucy.
- Doña Lucy (principal to whom the feature is dedicated)
- Myrna Molina(Daughter of Lucy)
- Myna Rovira (Myrna Molina’s mother-in-law)
- Miguel Camacho(Myna Rovira’s husband)
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