Lessons of Hope & Inspiration in the RGV Classroom

By Libby Lane, Rural Assembly Deputy Director

Last week you heard my colleagues Taneum Fotheringill and Sarah Melotte share their poignant reflections from our recent trip to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. We embarked on our journey to the RGV with open eyes, ears, and hearts. Our goal? To forge connections and immerse ourselves in the vibrant communities in and around the Rio Grande Valley. We endeavored to cultivate spaces where authenticity could flourish, where stories could be exchanged, and where commonalities could bridge divides of geography and background. In the journey of listening, learning, and sharing we sought a deeper connection to the shared human experience.

We were honored to make stops in two high school classrooms, where we gathered with some of the most passionate and dynamic young adults I’ve ever met.

IDEA Public School | Edinburg, Texas

students around a long table

Our first stop was IDEA Public Schools in Edinburg, TX, where our good friend Marcos Silva invited our team to join the student-led STXi (South Texas Ideas) club as they plan and prepare for their upcoming STXi Festival.

I was immediately blown away by the excitement and focus these students poured into building out every single detail of this annual event, which brings students from all over the RGV together to celebrate the unique culture, community, and identity of South Texas.

From website development to fundraising to marketing campaigns to speaker management, they are tasked with handling every aspect of development and execution.

Witnessing the dedication and drive of these young leaders reminded me that, in their capable hands, the spirit of the Rio Grande Valley thrives, promising a future as vibrant and resilient as the people who call it home. (You can learn more about STXi here.

La Joya High School Mariachi Los Coyotes

Our next stop sent me on a time warp back to my old high school stomping grounds: the band room. As a self-proclaimed band geek, I was especially psyched to be invited by Mariachi Director Dr. Martin Cantú to watch the La Joya High School Mariachi Los Coyotes in their final rehearsal before an upcoming competition.

I was not prepared for the amount of musical genius, presence, and emotional maturity these students exhibited. As they played, I felt like I was going to be blown through the cinderblock wall behind me with the sound of the mariachi instruments and vocals vibrating through my entire body.

Their performance was more than just notes and rhythms; it was a pure expression of love for their culture and a testament to the resilience of traditions in the face of change. It was impossible not to be moved.

Reflecting on my journey through the Rio Grande Valley, I am struck by recurring themes of optimism, fortitude, and tenacity.

From the driven young leaders of the STXi club at IDEA Public Schools, striving to celebrate their community’s unique identity, to the talented musicians of La Joya High School Mariachi Los Coyotes, expressing their love of music, the essence of the RGV shines brightly.

These encounters serve as poignant reminders of the unwavering resolve and vitality that define the region. 

Picture of Libby Lane

Libby Lane

Libby Lane (she/her) serves as Deputy Director for the Rural Assembly, overseeing the day-to-day operations of RA. She is focused on developing projects, campaigns and relationships that support sustainable rural development and address the unique challenges facing rural communities. Her work is focused on driving change through innovation and collaboration and exploring ways to uplift the stories of those who call these areas home.

Everywhere Workshops

Extend your Everywhere experience by registering for one or more of three workshops hosted with partners Aug. 6- 8th, the week following our mainstage programming on Aug. 1. 

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