As the new English Program Coordinator, my first week was spent observing what's currently going on here and beginning to visualize how I can best implement an English Program.
What I discovered has melted my heart.
When schools switched to online last year, hundreds of impoverished children with no internet access were left forgotten and falling behind. Pre-Covid, Steps of Love had 3 centers that kids whom they support could come to for free tutoring, activities and other resources. I visited them all before accepting their job offer.
That day they were making vision boards :)
My family was in town, so this day I brought them along to help tutor! :)
Steps of Love shut down their centers for safety and began brainstorming. Together with their partner organization AIM Peñasco they got creative and decided to bring school to the kids!! What!? Yes. There are now 6 makeshift, socially distanced, outdoor classrooms in the neediest neighborhoods city wide- providing instruction and lunches for kids who might otherwise get so far behind that they'd never go back to school by the time they open up again. This is only one example of this teams kind of determination.
In summary- what did I observe?
Wise and resourceful leaders, hungry, eager to learn students, passionate teachers, willing to jump-in and help families who have donated their yards, tables, kitchens, bathrooms and time for the kids and selfless donors who have provided the funds that allow all of this to happen.
A few stories from the team that has been here longer than I.
"One day a little girl came to me and said, "I can't wait to grow up and be a teacher just like you! I want to help other kids who can't go to school like you, too."
“What we’re doing here is more than just teaching the material. We are encouraging them every day to follow their dreams and goals and telling them that they can succeed in life! This is something these kids don’t hear often.”
"Once I picked Marielena up from class and she was crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said", "I want more time with these kids. I need more time with these kids!" - "She is amazing." Armando - AIM Peñasco Program Coordinator
Carolina Pacheco - Director of AIM Peñasco:
“One Monday a little girl told me how much she missed our delicious meals over the weekend. I replied, “Aw, thank you!” and proceeded to ask her what she ate at home that weekend. The little girl said, “Beans.” Carolina then understood why this little one missed their food so much. It was a 5 star buffet compared to the rationed beans she had gotten at home.
“Since then I have worked even harder to fundraise to ensure we can send a few snacks home on the weekends in addition to feeding the kids one nutritious meal per day.”
It is difficult to go to sleep with a full belly at night knowing so many of us in the world will never experience this little girl’s reality for even one day. I am grateful for experiences like these that keep me humbled. As difficult as it can be to focus on English classes knowing these situations- I remind myself of the long term results this program will bring.
We are confident that engaging, sustainable English Language instruction is currently the best investment that can be made to help these kids be able to help themselves and better their futures.
My first observation regarding English was just that. My second, is that the kids need a little more motivation and hope in themselves before we dive in. Currently working on a fun project to inspire and ignite! Stay tuned! 😘 😊
Muchas Gracias a todos! ❤️
Los quiero mucho