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Fronteras: San Antonio Educator Encourages Kids To Discover Their Gifts; Reimagining 'Pastorelas' During A Pandemic

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New Children’s Book Aims To Empower Children

The holiday season prompts people to think of what gifts to get for family, friends, and possibly co-workers. A San Antonio educator hopes to bring attention to a different kind of gift — one found within ourselves.

Johana Hernandez is an early childhood advocate and author of, “I Am a Gift and I Have Many Gifts.”

This book for young children encourages them to discover and use the gifts with which they’re endowed. Hernandez said her students inspired her to create the story.

“There's times I share with children that ‘you are the future.’ And a lot of them say, ‘I am?’ And that's where it hit me,” said Hernandez. “The kids, they don't know, I was like, oh my goodness, they need to know how special and awesome they are. How important they are.”

“I Am a Gift and I Have Many Gifts” is illustrated by Amber Leigh Luecke and is available at the Twig Bookstore in San Antonio or on Amazon.

The Pastorela, A Traditional Christmas Play With Mexican Roots, Goes Virtual

Communities in the American Southwest and Mexico typically commemorate this time of year with Christmastime traditions. From setting up elaborate nacimientos, or nativity scenes, to bundling up and attending a posada, a recreation of the biblical story of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph’s search for a place to stay the eve of Jesus’ birth.

But, like many events and traditions sidelined this year as a result of the pandemic, these holiday events are adjusting to accommodate health precautions. That includes one San Antonio organization that’s dedicated to keeping traditions alive and their efforts to make the annual pastorela available to all this year.

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center has spent the past several months rehearsing the play virtually before meeting on stage at the historic Plaza Guadalupe theatre to record the performance and make it available to everyone.

Belinda Menchaca, education director at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, said their take on the religious tradition incorporates Folklorico dance to keep the story alive for current and future generations.

“It's become a beautiful tradition for us,” explained Menchaca, “because we use this Christmas story every December so that our children enjoy not just a performance of dances back to back, but with this storyline, and characters, and comedy and then a beautiful finale.”

La Pastorela Folklorica will be presented Wed. Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. Central on the Guadalupe’s YouTube channel.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren