LINDA BUCKTHORP—“A Woman of Valor”*
By Elsa Wasserman
Today Linda lives in the “house of her dreams” overlooking Ajijic Village, her gardens (mostly desert plants to save water), Lake Chapala and the encircling Sierra Madre Mountains. She journeyed, however, over much difficult terrain to finally reach this place.
Seeing Linda for the first time at a fund- raising dinner for her beloved school, Jaltepec Centro Educativo, she was mediating between many groups to ensure the success of the dinner. Everything was going well with the students in crisp uniforms serving hors d’oeuvres, volunteers helping at the bar, music from Tim Ruff Welch and a few of his Cantantes. Some diners were being taken on tours of the school while others wandered the grounds way above the carreterra, looking down to Lake Chapala.
The students prepared all the food for the dinner as part of their studies. After the dinner, Linda spoke about the success of the fund raising efforts to date. She introduced members of the school administration, the students, and special guests. The respect and admiration from everyone there was palpable. Through Linda’s efforts as both Community Facilitator and President of the Scholarship Foundation, more than half of the fifty young women there are able to attend. (See Jaltepec Centro de Educativo-Google Search.)
I wondered, “Who is this impressive woman?” So I invited her for an interview, hoping that she would find the time in her schedule since Jaltepec is not her only love. Linda is also a patron of the arts, inviting friends to dramatic performances and concerts of all kinds in Ajijic. She is on the board of directors for Los Cantares del Lago.
Linda is the oldest of three daughters from a third generation Chinese-Canadian Family. Linda excelled in school, even joining the Precision Drill Team at her high school. She became famous for her two sword dances. When the time came to think about going to college, her father shrugged her off. He thought that a girl didn’t need college to find a husband and raise a successful family. College was for the sons. So Linda married young and gave birth to two children, a boy and a girl. Here the seeds were planted for her enduring belief that women benefit from having an education.
Five years later the marriage was over. Linda had a two and a four year old to care for. At one point she supported her family by becoming an haute couture fashion model. Later Linda became an insurance underwriter and succeeded to the highest level in her field, the Million Dollar Table. She worked in the insurance field for eleven years.
Marriage beckoned again. Linda had proven to herself that she could accomplish any goal she chose, so she chose marriage. Her new husband took her to Australia for a two-year management job for him. It lasted sixteen years. These were the golden years of traveling around the world, staying in the finest hotels, and playing the “corporate wife.” Even then Linda had to contend with the “all white” Australian policy in effect until 1977.
When the time came to consider retirement, Linda and her husband weighed many possibilities. Ajijic won. Here, they met a couple, Norris and Nancy Price, who introduced them to Jaltepec which was not yet an accredited university. Linda and her husband sponsored two students and she was hooked. Linda is the perfect role model for her students. She fought for and got herself an education the hard way.
The Price’s didn’t get to see their dreams for Jaltepec come to fruition. They died a sudden, brutal death. Linda had been such a close friend and collaborator, her grief seemed insurmountable. Then Linda heard Nancy’s voice tell her to carry on the work at Jaltepec. “The girls need your help.” In 2007 Linda met Tim Welch and they became mutual supports while they helped each other with their loves, Jaltepec and Los Cantantes del Lago.
Linda’s greatest joy and satisfaction is the progress of Jaltepec. While still a work in progress, so much has been accomplished. She told me, “Education is so important to me. Mexican boys have better opportunities than the girls. But Jaltepec girls know they have resources. Education makes difficult mountains to climb. Meeting each challenge adds to confidence.”
Now Linda is still looking ahead. She knows her work is not done. Whatever the challenge, I know that her boundless energy and enthusiasm will rise to meet it.
(* A Woman of Valor is the title of a poem with which King Solomon concludes the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 31). The poem describes the woman of valor as one who is “energetic, righteous, and capable.”)
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com