First lady sees play in Guadalupe, emphasizes importance of education
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 17, 2006

Sarah Muench
First lady Laura Bush stumped for education Friday in Guadalupe, where her mother-in-law rallied for the same cause nearly seven years ago.

Behind a crowd of children, Bush intently watched, laughed and smiled as two actors brought a bilingual children's story about a boy and his books to life.

"That is the message we want all children to understand and that is to go to the library," Bush said. "I'm really happy to have the chance to be here today." Actors from Childsplay performed Tomás and the Library Lady, a play about a librarian who influences a boy. Bush said the story pertains especially to border states like Arizona. "I love this story because it's a lovely story about our country and the way the family is," Bush said.

About 100 children - 60 from the Guadalupe Youth and Young Adult Program and 40 from the local Boys & Girls Club program - watched the performance.
Roughly 200 people attended the invitation-only event organized by the Maricopa County Library District.

Andrés Segovia, 8, who said he likes to read, was excited to see the play and the first lady.

"It was really funny," Andrés said. "It was a big surprise. I don't know how they could do that."

Simon Martinez, a Guadalupe Boys & Girls Club volunteer, said he thinks the first lady's appearance is good exposure for the town, where children can face challenges.

"I thought it was very good, in part, because this area is in need of a lot of things," Martinez said. "It's all about planting the seed."

Barbara Bush was the first first lady to visit Guadalupe, said Gail Acosta, community development director for the town.

Previous high-stature political figures to visit the town of 5,000, mostly of Latino and Yaqui residents, also include Jack Kemp, a former U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary.

Ricardo D. Araiza, an actor who plays Tomás in the play, said "it was a shock" to hear that Laura Bush was coming to see the play.

"When we found out she was coming, it was really nerve-wracking," Araiza said. "It made an impression showing she wanted to be here."

He said that, "taking these steps to turn it into a play, it opens up those doors to something we never knew existed."

Guadalupe Vice Mayor Rodrigo Flores praised Bush.

"Mrs. Bush is welcome here," Flores said. "I believe her heart is in the community and the children. Thank God Mrs. Bush doesn't see color. I was happy for a lady of her stature to come into our community. It's a real inspiration."

Earlier in the day, Bush attended a fund-raising luncheon for U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villas.

After the play, Bush posed with children in the audience, including some who performed a dance for her, wearing traditional Mexican costumes from Veracruz.

She said to the children, "Wasn't that great. Did you all like that?"