True
XQ

Every day, hundreds of kids in Mexico wake up extra early to cross the border and attend school in the U.S.

It's an unusual commute with border traffic, security checks, and metal detectors all before your first class, but parents jump at the opportunity to have their kids educated in the United States. And for the most part, the schools are happy to have them.

The border in El Paso, Texas. All images via XQ Super School Project.


It's no secret that many of these kids face serious disadvantages in school. There are language barriers and discrimination to deal with on top of the fact that many of the children come from impoverished communities.

Additionally, the proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico threatens to tear some of these communities in half and leave kids further behind.

El Paso, Texas, is a city that shares a deep relationship with its twin city — Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

The teachers in El Paso welcome Mexican students as their own and recognize that giving them the best education possible isn't just the right thing to do, it's essential to building a better world.

"It's really important for people to understand that Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, we are one community," says Liza Montelongo, executive director of the El Paso STEM Foundation. "Yes, we have a river that divides us, and yes, we are two countries, but ultimately if we are depriving one part of our community, then we are doing a disservice to all of us."

To help bring their community together, one school in El Paso decided to form a group that takes aim at another issue.  

Women entering careers in science, technology, engineering, and math face a multitude of barriers. There are large systemic biases like the gender pay gap as well as smaller, more personal impediments.

For example, young girls who do well in STEM classes are often teased, and their potential interest in the subjects isn't cultivated as much as it might be for a young boy.

That's where the "Chicas" come in.

XQ Rethink High School: El Paso

They may live in different countries, but they tackle science projects together as classmates.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Chicas are a badass group of girls who are bridging international borders with their love for science.

They work together building robots, programing computers, and cultivating their love for STEM.

"As girls get older, sometimes it's not cool to be smart," Montelongo says. "So our goal is to try and say, you know what, it's OK to be a nerd."

Not only are the Chicas helping to close the gender gap in STEM, they're creating leaders in a marginalized community.

People in STEM are the leaders and innovators of the future. They're the ones who can use their talents and out-of-the-box thinking to solve the biggest problems facing the world — and research shows that when STEM fields are diversified, they produce better ideas.

For the twin cities of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, the Chicas provide an opportunity to come together and celebrate a common passion.

"It doesn't matter if you live on the north side of the river or you live on the south side," Montelongo says. "We need to be able to give them some type of opportunity to be able to have their dream."

It's a simple idea — bringing marginalized students together to celebrate science — but anyone who loves STEM knows that simple ideas can change the world.

Learn more at XQSuperSchool.org.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

Keep Reading Show less

Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

Keep Reading Show less