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This photo is from ESLA's visit to Tijuana last year. Students look forward to the 2020 excursion.

School looks forward to annual cultural and educational excursion.

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA, March 12, 2020 / -- For the upcoming During spring break on March 30 – April 2, 2020 , teachers Amanda Valenzuela, Vanessa Hoffman and Ilyana Contreras from the Episcopal School of Los Angeles (ESLA), will be taking up to 12 students on a four-day trip across the border to Tijuana, Mexico. 

This will be the 5th year that ESLA has taken this trip. Conversations about building the wall and detention camps have simmered down and yet the teachers and students will be making the journey with equal amounts of respect, eagerness and an appropriate amount of awareness. As in years past, this was no ordinary sightseeing vacation. While the students traveled, the four-hour drive presented roads lined by dazzling wildflower blooms, they were en route to experience daily life in the city, to gather stories about migrants and migration, and, of course, to use their Spanish to connect and promote dialogue. After Mexico City, Los Angeles has the most Mexican inhabitants of any city in North America. This statistic presents a welcome familiarity with Mexican people, 

The trip was a collaboration between La Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica and the Service Council at ESLA . The school has one day confirmed for service at The Deported Veterans Support Bunker and DREAMer Moms, will share a meal with migrants at Casa del Migrante, and are tentatively planning on a more culturally-oriented trip than in years past. 

Through contact with Tijuana residents, students will meet and speak with people from all walks of life: artisans, cooks and waiters, migrants, docents, vendors, domestic laborers, volunteers, pharmacists, teachers, activists, lawyers, baristas, deportees, kids, and more. They will also meet local police and military personnel. 

Ms. Valenzuela: “ES LA places great emphasis on community interaction, whether it’s in Los Angeles or in different cities around the world.”

A distinction from previous years is that this visit will include a focus on Haitian culture in Tijuana. Tijuana now hosts the largest Haitian population of any global city outside of Haiti. This creates an additional international element to the trip. 

ES LA head of school Peter McCormack adds: “The best educational tool for any young person is the collaboration and camaraderie of peers from different backgrounds—peers who have stories and perspectives to share, the stuff of life that simply cannot be gleaned from a textbook.” 

ES LA expects that each student will enjoy unique stories of their own that they can relate to their peers back in LA. Once they return, fellow students will be encouraged to quiz the travelers about their individual experiences and were regaled with tantalizing tales in return: about people and their lives, of course, but also about fully-personalized above-ground cemeteries with handwritten grave markers and succulent planters; about how the group hacked the Mexican traffic circle and stop sign–discovering in the process that an “Alto” (Stop) sign is a mere suggestion!; about how to conduct mental currency exchange calculations while dealing with vendors in the market, and what life might be like after high school in a city outside the U.S. 

Incorporated in 2009, ESLA began by providing tuition-free afterschool programs that offered playful, project-based learning in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). In 2012 ESLA opened its doors to 28 full-time students in the Middle School—its first brave group of scholastic pioneers. Since then its community has expanded to include over 190 students in grades six through twelve, and the school has developed one of the most vibrant liberal arts curricula in the city. ESLA has proudly graduated two senior classes, and will grow to include 360 students—its target capacity—in the next five years.
ESLA’s focus is on broad access, spirited study, and the most forward-thinking pedagogical practices. Its emphasis is on community-building, social justice, and the highest academic standards. ESLA is dedicated to raising young people who understand the value of ethical self-reflection, rigorous inquiry, and generous civic engagement. Head of School is Peter McCormack.

For further information, please contact Mike Mena: or 310-913-0625


Mike Mena
Episcopal School of Los Angeles
+1 310-913-0625
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