A group of 16 Jackson Hole High School students flew Monday to Tlaxcala, Mexico, for the first part of what coordinator Jeff Brazil hopes will be a lasting cultural exchange.
“The kids have been communicating back and forth on WhatsApp, mostly just informal, fun stuff at this point,” said Brazil, high school history teacher, and cross-country coach. “We’re hoping once we go down there, we can continue the fun exchanges. And then towards the end of our itinerary, we start to get a lot more serious about developing plans and programming for the future.”
The inaugural voyagers came from Jackson Hole High School United Nations Club, Latina Leadership Club, and Dual Immersion Program. They are evenly split between Hispanic and Anglo, reflecting the program’s intention to break down boundaries.
About one-third of public school children in Teton County are Hispanic, many of them first- or second-generation immigrants from Tlaxcala.
But within the schools, Brazil said there’s a cultural divide “that hasn’t really been bridged yet.”
By building “greater cultural and historical understanding and appreciation” of Tlaxcalan communities, organizers hope Anglo students in Jackson will feel more connected to their Hispanic classmates. They also hope those Hispanic students will gain a greater sense of agency and belonging in Jackson schools — which are some of the most ethnically diverse in Wyoming.
Chaperoning the trip are Jackson Hole High School teachers Carson King and Gabriel Lopez, who teach dual immersion history and Spanish, respectively, and Piper Worthington, the school’s social worker, and Latina Leadership Club advisor.
In Tlaxcala, they will join Fulbright Scholar and former Jackson resident Alyson Spery, who is there producing her “Sister Cities” docuseries.