Malinalco's master woodcarvers train young woodcarvers in ancient skills


About us









Gary Monroy, master woodcarver,
had an idea

Carmen Sánchez, teaching coordinator,
advises Abel Reynoso on teaching methods

        Jaime Flores teaches Ruth Sánchez,
                        who joined the team


Our export idea got its start when Malinalco's favorite master woodcarver, Gary Monroy, met with Corner Institute coordinator Ellen Calmus and two local parish priests who share our concern about the increasing departure of Malinalco's young people to seek work in the U.S. due to the failing local agricultural economy. We wondered if we could develop a new market for Malinalco's fine woodcarvings that would make it possible to sell this beautiful work for a fair price, so that our woodcarvers could start earning a better living. And if we could train our talented young people to do this work, could we then create jobs for our young people that would give them an alternative to having to leave home in search of a decent wage? The idea of finding a way for Malinalco to export its products instead of its young people was very exciting -- but to get started we would need funding.

Then the miracle happened: a reader of an article published in and English newspaper about the children of Malinalco whose parents have migrated to the U.S. contacted the Corner Institute to ask if there was a way for her to help these children. We told her our idea, and she became as excited about it as we were -- and decided to fund our dream of a summer workshop to develop our product, train apprentice woodcarvers in the skills needed to produce it, and work on marketing the result!


A local technical school provided the space. Gary came up with a beautiful design, then invited three other master woodcarvers to help him train the apprentice woodcarvers. The Corner Institute's administrative team provided logistical support, and our educational coordinator worked with the woodcarvers to analyze the exact process of creating this piece, breaking it down into easy-to-learn steps so that skills normally learned over the course of many months could be taught in a matter of weeks. Then we selected seven young people to join them as apprentice carvers, including sixteen-year-old Alexis Silva, the boy whose troubles after both parents migrated to the U.S. had moved our English newspaper reader to want to help; Alexis was given a special scholarship that provided the counseling and other support we felt would help him derive multiple benefits from the experience, including the boost in self-esteem and in the social and work skills that we hoped would help him do better in school.

Our Malinalco Migrants' Eagles workshop was a wonderful success, an excellent experience for all

Alexis Silva learns the laborious art of sanding



participants. We all finished the workshop with the highest possible motivation to continue this project, thanks to the discovery of what we were able to accomplish with the combination of a little inspiration, a lot of talent, and the economic support that allowed us to implement the Corner Institute's methods of educational development. . .



. . . and better yet, this workshop got something very hopeful started in Malinalco. Though the future remains to be discovered, we believe our new project has a good chance of becoming a motor of change for our community, offering economic alternatives for our young people and even – we hope – a way for us to provide jobs so that our migrants who would like to come back will have a way to earn a decent wage while living at home with their families.


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