MCALLEN, RGV – Sam Houston Elementary School’s 2nd graders had strong opinions on current affairs in a Q&A with Congressman Vicente Gonzalez. 

Gonzalez visited the school with officials from IBC Bank to promote financial literary. And, yes, he was asked about banking and saving money but he was also asked about international relations.

“Can you stop President Trump from being mean to Mexico?” asked one student, aged seven.

“I will and I always do,” Gonzalez responded. “Whenever he says things I don’t agree with about Mexico or our friends from Central or South America I am always at the forefront of telling him he is wrong and he does not know what he is talking about.”

“Why does President Trump hate Mexico?” asked one student, aged eight.

Gonzalez said that was a good question. He responded: “What he is saying is wrong in the eyes of God, I believe. He has not been friendly to our country to our south, who is our friend and ally, that we do business with, with whom we have family and relatives, and friends that live across the border,” Gonzalez said.

“I try to be that voice in Washington, telling the president, the people here are not who you imagine. Have him come and visit and really get to know us.  That is what I try to do with this president. It is a very complicated time.”

Gonzalez was asked if he had ever visited Mexico. He replied that he had been in Mexico City recently to visit with the country’s secretary of security. He was also in the nation’s capitol last December for the inauguration of President López Obrador.

“They are our neighbors. We need to always have a good relationship with them even if we do not agree with them 100 percent of the time. We will be living next to each other forever,” Gonzalez told the students.

Asked what the event was about, Debra Thomas, principal at Sam Houston Elementary, told the Rio Grande Guardian and RGV Public Radio 88 FM: “We are in partnership with IBC Bank and they have come to present a financial literacy lesson, alongside Congressman Gonzalez. We want to help our second graders learn about wants and needs and financial literacy.”

Asked to elaborate, Thomas said:

“This event was focused on teaching students about finance management. Sam Houston Elementary’s Minitropolis – Houstonville – is a visionary program that mirrors a fully functioning, real-life community to create an academic learning experience for elementary school students. It provides students with the social, academic and real-life skills they need to be successful and responsible citizens while introducing them to careers and emotional intelligence.”

Thomas said students run a mini-bank, sell inventory in mini-stores, operate an IRS office, run a TV station and newsroom, and even manage a post office.

“State education requirements now place a greater emphasis on financial literacy for students – further solidifying the need for students to understand how business works,” Thomas said.

Asked about the students’ knowledge of international relations, Thomas said: “They were asking some wonderful questions of him (Congressman Gonzalez).” Asked if the students were up to speed on current affairs, Thomas said: “They surely are and it shows me the relevance to them and how they are feeling right now and the climate they are living in. For them to ask, why does Trump hate Mexicans, it kind of broke my heart.”

Congressman Gonzalez agreed. Asked about the questions the students posed, he said: “Isn’t that interesting, to see these young kids that are engaged. Even at that young age, to feel the animosity coming from the leader of our country. How sad is that? That tells you that even children at that young age are being impacted by somebody you think represents you and your country.”

Gonzalez added: “It is a sad day we are living in, in this country. I don’t think it has ever happened in our history, where you have children who feel threatened or impacted by the words of the president at such a young age. They feel they are not being represented by him.”