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Tyler and Rebekah Clark with young students in Atexcac.

MBA Student Funds Library in Former Mexican Home

When Tyler Clark wanted to begin a new work of service, he simply asked what was needed. The answer, it seemed, was a library for a resource-poor village in the Mexican state of Puebla. 

Through his contacts in the Mormon church, Clark, a student in the MBA program, asked the auxiliary president and mayor of the village of Atexcac what project he and his wife, Rebekah, could help with. The mayor told the couple that his village needed a library; and so their work began. 

Tyler, who lived in Puebla for two years as a Mormon missionary, says the project was designed so that the Atexcac community undertook all that they could themselves. It was they who painted the building, put in the shelves and made the new facility look appealing overall. “We just delivered the books,” Tyler says. 

The Clarks raised money to stock the library through a gofundme.com campaign to which many friends contributed. 

Once the new library was established, the couple undertook promotional visits throughout neighboring communities to get the local children excited about the facility. They met with a grateful reception. The children were especially excited to receive new books since other libraries in the region were hard to reach from Atexcac, and those libraries’ holdings were outdated and of little interest to them.  

Technical support
Not only were the Clarks able to donate books to Atexcac, but once Green Bay contract-furniture company KI heard the couple's story of service, they, too, joined the effort; the company donated computers to the new library. Tyler says, “[KI] helped with software support afterwards and they were very involved. We are sending them a letter because the kids wrote a letter of support.” 

These computers are particularly important to the community as a means of accessing Rosetta Stone learning programs in English and other languages. 

Maximizing impact
Atexcac has few resources, since its voice in local and state government is small and it has not historically had a great focus on education or literacy. Because of this, the dollars raised for the new library made a significant impact. Tyler says, “We raised about $3,800, which doesn’t seem like a lot but, down in Mexico, considering it’s 20 pesos per dollar, we were able to buy a lot of books – and not only that, but the best books.” 

These texts include fantasy novels and National Geographic publications selected with young readers in mind. “They can look at these foreign places and just open their minds,” explains Tyler.

The Clarks’ goal is to keep this young generation rooted in their vibrant, hardworking and helpful community by providing them with tools to one day have access to a good-paying salary. Says Tyler, “There’s good work if you’re educated and, if you can speak English, you can get any job you want. And if you speak [a Chinese language], you’re going to be making a good salary even in the United States.” 

Such opportunities are made possible by the computer programs that these students have access to. Many other children in the surrounding areas are not so fortunate: “The kids in this community, they have more resources than most kids even within the capital of Puebla that go to private schools, just because they have this stuff. So, of course, the people in the local area are super interested in this and they want to be a part of it.” 

Because there is so much attention on the library, the director of the library and the president of the village want to make sure that they do things correctly, says Tyler. This means they are committed to cataloging all library materials as well as taking security measures to protect and sustain this amenity for their village. Tyler’s main contact in Mexico, Patricia Bautista, was key to setting up the initiative and is charged with keeping a local eye on the project during the years to come. 

Tyler says, “My biggest goal is, I want to see in a couple of years if that ratio of middle-school students that leave goes down, and I want to see the high school population go up, because that will be the biggest measure of success.” 

May 3, 2016