Like so many of us, Itzé became involved with Project Schoolhouse because of a friend. What started as a favor for Tab soon developed into an enduring love for Nicaraguans and an excitement to see Project Schoolhouse succeed.
Itzé Pavón, a freelance graphic designer based in Austin, grew up in Mexico and moved to Texas in the late ’90’s. After a few years working for a design firm, she struck out on her own and has been self-employed and busy ever since. When Tab asked her to redesign the Project Schoolhouse logo, she readily accepted the challenge even though she didn’t have much time to spare and didn’t know much about the program. Through working on the logo, she gained more friends and learned more about the work, so when an opportunity arose for her to visit Nicaragua directly, she took it.
“The trip was amazing, and more than anything the people were just delightful. It was really neat to be in a place where there’s so much need, but at the same time the people are just so happy.”
They visited a few of the communities where Project Schoolhouse had built schools but spent the most time in a Nicaraguan community called San Antonio, where a school and bridge project were both underway. One of her fondest memories of that time is playing Uno, the card game, with members of the community. “Uno was one [way] we could engage the entire community, from adults to kids, so we would just play until really, really late until we couldn’t see the cards anymore.”
She was deeply impressed by the people she met, especially by their happiness and gratitude despite challenges, which she attributes partly to the longstanding political strife and civil war many of them have lived through. “It just breaks my heart that they lived through so many horrendous things. Economically they’re lacking so much, but just the fact that they can walk to their homes and be safe is just a tremendous blessing to them.” The mountains are home to a hardy people, living with the realities around them and finding their own solutions. Sometimes those solutions put them in harm’s way.
“When we got there there wasn’t a bridge, obviously, so we had to cross with all our luggage and the water was [about] halfway up our body, but that was the way you got up the hill. The fact that it wasn’t even rain season just makes you wonder how these people do it.” She continues “By the time I came back from that trip, everything about it was just phenomenal, and a piece of my heart had stayed over there, so I couldn’t help but stay connected with the organization and also with the people I had met [in Nicaragua].”
She’s excited for the recent growth Project Schoolhouse has seen and is grateful for all the new people helping out. Itzé continues to volunteer to help with design and marketing, and we are very grateful for her time, expertise, and friendship.