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‘First Time Home’

For The Madera Tribune

MUSD staff gathers in MSHS gym for Student Champions round two.


Riveting film opens round 2 of Student Champions

The sequel to part one of Madera Unified’s Student Champions course was set in motion this week from the gymnasium at Madera South High School.

In the same way that part one, which was held in August, focused on developing closer relationships between the district’s staff and African-American students, Monday’s exploration turned to improving connections with Hispanic students, at least that is where it ended.

It began, however, with a powerful story of four students reaching out to connect with their own roots in Mexico.

In 2016, four Madera migrant students learned that the grandfather whom they had never seen was seriously ill in the village of San Martin, Oaxaca, Mexico. The quartet was determined to travel to San Martin to see their grandfather and connect with other family members they had never seen in a land they had never seen.

Before it was over, what began as a trip to visit the ancestral village of the four Madera cousins turned into a documentary that won the Rising Voices Award at the Portland Film Festival.

In the beginning the cousins, Noemi Librado-Sanchez, Esmeralda Ventura, Heriberto Ventura, and Esmina Librado, made the trip to Oaxaca just to visit and take video pictures.

However, as fate would have it, the family had asked long-time friend Seth Holmes, a professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California, to drive the young people on their venture, and he came up with an idea.

Why not make a film of the reunion and enter it into a film contest? They named it “First Time Home.”

“It was really cool. It felt so surreal,” Librado-Sanchez says. “It started off as films that we were going to keep as memories. It wound up becoming something that can change someone’s point of view.”

“I am beyond thankful,” she said. “I have to thank God for everything and my family for supporting us. It’s really crazy because it started off as something to keep as memories and now it’s something big.”

Last Monday morning, all of the district’s employees viewed the students’ film and then settled in to talk about how the students became connected with themselves and their own culture. They also discussed the rewards that await teachers as they explore the often unknown cultures of their students.

The Tribune will explore and share these phenomena with its readers.


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