What a Mentor Can Do

 

By MaryLou Faddick

Patsy with Q Fund Students

Remember for a moment your favorite teacher.  The one who “got you”, the one who truly cared, pushed you beyond what even you thought you were capable of doing.  The teacher who enriched your life.  This is the story of one of those teachers.  And the remarkable part is that she has accomplished this everywhere she entered a classroom in Colorado and in the hills of Guatemala.  Her name is Patricia Schmitz.  Everyone knows her as Patsy.

 

At the end of the 60’s, Patsy and her new husband, Steve, joined the Peace Corps, were sent to Venezuela, immediately getting to work teaching in rural villages for Patsy and setting up NGO support for Steve.  With their fluent Spanish they were able to understand and participate in the daily lives of the people.  This sense of true service infused their lives.  When their Peace Corps service ended, they bought a car and drove home, stopping in Guatemala.  That was a show- stopper for Patsy.  She found it beautiful, charming, filled with beautiful people weaving eye catching fabrics.  She knew she would return.

Return she did.  First with Friendship Bridge, and then with Connie and Ted Ning in their incredible new project Starfish.  Patsy’s unique talent is that she weaves her awesome talent in 

the arts with her ability to be present to each student, each young woman she works with.  While they “make” something

together that special quality of trust is building between them, giving the young student the gift of a woman who understands them and supports their yearnings to do something special in their life.  That is what is so powerful about that interaction, the life-changing power of mentorship.

 

Patsy’s years in the classrooms of a school she and Steve helped found brought that same magic.  Her classrooms sparked children Pre-Kindergarten through high school to dig deep into themselves to find their creative self and enjoy the process.  Her special talent of integrating art with Spanish, and practicing those important social skills that a classroom is uniquely able to do, served everyone of her students.  In her Colorado classrooms, Patsy was the quiet star.

 

Now, each year, Patsy brings those same skills to the young women learning at MAIA and the Quetzal University Fund.  These young women of Pana, Santiago, Solala know Patsy.  They trust her.  She is not just their mentor; she is their trusted American friend who has believed in them all these years, spent untold hours bringing them books, art materials, and her own unique brand of support that lets each young woman know she can be who she dreams of being.  Patsy exemplifies

the unique gift of the Q Fund - the ability to provide excellent mentoring to these young women.

 

There is a powerful “magic” in teaching.  Patsy Schmitz is proof of that incredible “magic.”  The Q Fund is fortunate to have Patsy as one of the American mentors who bring these young women that inner knowing that indeed, they can succeed.  And succeed is what they are doing.

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