Herón Márquez Estrada, Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul), January 28, 2007
Mary Kay Feltes will get a present Wednesday as part of an unusual foreign aid package from Mexico.
“I can’t wait to open the box and see what’s inside,” said Feltes, assistant director of the Owatonna Public Library—one of 82 organizations around the state that will receive a box of 55 Mexican textbooks.
The books will be given to school districts, libraries, community centers, universities and penitentiaries throughout Minnesota and northern Wisconsin.
The books, all in Spanish, are similar to those used in Mexico, covering everything from social sciences to mathematics. However, these books were produced by the Mexican government specifically for Mexicans abroad, especially the hundreds of thousands in the United States.
Feltes said the books will greatly increase her library’s Spanish-language holdings.
Feltes said the books also should broaden the library’s appeal to Owatonna’s growing Latino population.
Although Mexican embassies and consulates have conducted similar book giveaways for years around the United States, this is the first time Minnesota institutions will get a full complement.
The Mexican government opened a consulate in St. Paul in June 2005 to address the needs of Mexican nationals in Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Last January, the consulate gave away about 9,000 books. This year, it will donate 11,165 texts, said Mexican Consul Nathan Wolf.
Wolf said the distribution of the textbooks will help strengthen the identities of Mexican nationals, especially children, and give them a better understanding of their history, culture and language.
Chris Correa, director of curriculum and instruction for the Shakopee School District, said the books will help schools better address the needs of growing Mexican and Latino student populations.
She said Shakopee, which has more than 800 Hispanic children in its schools, has tried for years to buy materials that “value original cultures.”It will be nice to get the Mexican perspective on world and historical events,” Correa said. “This is a connection we’ve wanted to pursue.”
Claudia Delgado, who works for Wolf at the consulate, said the materials also will be of use to other Spanish-speaking people, be they immigrants from other countries or U.S. residents studying Spanish. “It’s us sharing our culture,” she said.