Friday, June 4, 2010

About to Venture out into Global Learning

Helllooo from the USA!

I am currently preparing for my departure to Central America. This summer I will be going to Nicaragua and Costa Rica to work for a non-profit organization called Global Learning. I am able to participate in this program because I was awarded a $3,000 summer Stipend from Wheaton College to participate in an unpaid internship or volunteer work. In this first post I will explain Global Learning and then I will briefly outline what my time there will look like.

This program uses the transformative power of education as a tool for peace and justice. Global Learning volunteers teach and learn with approximately three thousand children annually in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Mexico. GL facilitates student-centered education and international collaboration across divides of socio-economic class, nationality, gender, culture, religion, and race.

Global Learning reflects the communities it serves. At least 50% of GL volunteers are young leaders from program host communities in Latin America and more than 75% of GL volunteers are people of color. Most Global Learning volunteers are university students and many are the first individuals in their family to pursue higher education. The example and encouragement these path-setters offer children in communities with low educational attainment are invaluable.

So, first I will arrive in Nicaragua on June 15th to attending a leadership training until July 8th. I will be attending this leadership training because I will be a "Support Person" for the volunteer teaching team in Costa Rica. This means that I will assist the program coordinators in the planning of meetings, money management, keeping the pulse of the team, and acting as a liaison between the volunteers and program leaders. At this intense 18-day pre-program training I will learn the best practices in student-centered education, community organizing, and leadership.

After this 18-day training I will go to Costa Rica to begin teaching the children using my growing skills in Spanish at rural schools right outside of Liberia, Costa Rica. To prepare for this, each U.S. volunteer was asked to buy art materials to give to the schools to help enrich their programs. We will be teaching different subjects with materials that are otherwise unavailable to these schools. The majority of the students we will be teaching in Costa Rica are Nicaraguan immigrants who face racism and discrimination from the people of Costa Rica. What is incredible about this program is that the volunteers from Costa Rica cross these cultural barriers to help these children. And in this breaking down of barriers, all other volunteers and students benefit from this open-mindedness, compassion, and kindness.

After I teach in Costa Rica I will head back to Nicaragua for a post-program training from August 9th-13th. Then, from the 13th-20th I will do some traveling on my own or with people I meet from the group. And finally, on August 20th I will arrive back to the happy valley of Northampton, MA.

So as I prepare for this new adventure, I am finding myself very excited (while sometimes anxious and scared). I have never traveled on my own and been away from home for two months before. But I feel ready. I am very excited about this program because it is clear to me that they fully understand the ways in which to promote intercultural friendships, and through these friendships truly help young ones develop a sense of self and agency in the world. At times it might be hard but I know that what I will gain from this trip will be well worth the struggle, and hey, the struggle will teach me something too! So, even with my fears I am ready and excited. But I will miss everyone so much (one of my biggest fears is missing people too much :) .

Thank you for reading my blog and I will try to update it as much as possible throughout this journey. The next time you hear from me will be from Central America!

Adios todos!

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