Friday, September 26, 2008
Many of you know about the Stevens funding that came through in the spring and the exciting GL research/travel project that it will support. However, in order to ensure that everyone is up to date, here is the news…
In April, thanks in large part to good wishes, prayers, support and positive vibes sent by many of you, I was awarded a Mary Elvira Stevens Traveling Fellowship, an award available to alumnae from Wellesley College. I am going to use the fellowship for a new Global Learning research project starting in January 2009.
With Stevens funding, I will travel to Peru, Argentina, Mexico, Uganda, Kenya, and Thailand in order to learn with educators using empowering pedagogy that is similar to what we are using in Global Learning programs. I will visit three types of educational settings: progressive schools, outdoor education organizations, and refugee camps.
In each location, I will gather and share best practice teaching techniques that help students think, learn, believe in themselves, and be active world citizens. I feel very thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with our global colleagues engaging in best practices and look forward to returning to GL with valuable ideas from around the world to strengthen and improve our teacher training and educational programs.
Upon return, my intention is to work with GL volunteers to write a user-friendly handbook to help improve education in underserved communities. Targeted at educators and parents, it will be a manual of tangible student-centered techniques field-tested in the developing world that anyone could use to improve children’s learning and life preparation, even with minimal material resources. Hence, this exciting project will not only inform and strengthen GL programs, but also will enable us to share student-centered best practices with a much larger audience.
I will be traveling for approximately one year, with a few visits to our California office and current GL sites in Latin America worked into the itinerary. These visits will enable me to touch in and contribute, but I will need assistance with many of my duties as GL’s executive director in 2009. I am very grateful to the many Global Learning volunteers who have stepped up to make room for me to work on this new project. Regional coordinators and volunteers in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and in the United States will add to their already heavy workloads next year to keep the GL wheels turning. We will have many experienced volunteers return in 2009 to guide the leadership training and school enrichment programs. I would like to offer special thanks to Nessa Mahmoudi, Jessie Anderson, and Roberto Vargas Sanchez who have committed themselves to taking over most of my administrative duties while I am traveling.
The solid, self-sustaining nature of GL’s current stage of development is a testament to the hard work and commitment that hundreds of volunteers have contributed. Thank you! I am grateful to work within our unique and passionate community and look forward to moving adelante with all of you in 2009.
…MÁS INFORMACIÓN VIENE!
Saludos a todos Súper voluntarios de Global Learning.
La información que enviamos aquí es acerca de algunos de los puntos que habíamos tratado la reunión anterior, sobre las posibilidades de anunciar nuestro programa en la radio y en la televisión local.
Las noticias son positivas! Conversamos con personas de Radio Pampa y ellos nos ceden un espacio en su transmisión para hablar acerca del programa, la tarea es seleccionar una o dos personas para que asistan a la radio la próxima semana, cualquier día, solo debemos confirmar en la mañana al teléfono 26 66 49 63 que asistiremos en la tarde.
Sugerencia: las personas que vayan pueden conversar con ellos para obtener un espacio semanal para hablar de las nuevas actividades del grupo.
Con respecto a Canal 36 también tenemos un espacio al igual que la Radio debemos confirmar que asistiremos al teléfono 26 66 36 36 o con Doña Ingrid 83 10 82 47 (Nacira está perfeccionando los detalles con Doña Ingrid) y se debe elegir dos personas para ir a la entrevista.
Creo que las noticias son buenas porque hay disposición por parte de los medios de comunicación así que debemos aprovechar la oportunidad.
Pedimos disculpas por no poder estar en la reunión, pero tuvimos pequeños inconvenientes. Chao, éxitos y bendiciones.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I am writing to share some exciting news with you about a possible new Global Learning program in Honduras. As many of you know, some of us in the organization have been in communication with Honduran contacts about the promising new program for the last six months and GL Costa Rican Coordinator Roberto Vargas Sanchez and I have just returned from an on-site exploratory visit. I am happy to report that this new location potentially provides an incredible opportunity for growth for us as an organization, particularly with regard to teacher training, parent outreach, and depth of connection with individual students.
If plans go ahead, GL volunteers would be working in communities located in and around a Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge, about an hour outside of the town of La Ceiba, on the north coast of Honduras. Once owned by the Standard Fruit Company, it is an unusual program site set in a very remote area rich in natural beauty and community spirit, but challenged by acute educational need, material shortages, and socio-economic hardship.
This message is to inform you about some of the details of the possible new program (including challenges and opportunities) and to request your opinion and collaboration. The decision about whether or not to expand to Honduras will be made by October 15. Please read on to learn how you can express your voice. A crucial piece of the decision making process will be whether we have enough experienced volunteer staff to guide our existing programs along with a new one in 2009. Many of you have expressed tremendous excitement over possibilities of Global Learning expansion. Now is your opportunity reinvest in our organization and help us move forward.
A New Type of GL Program Serving Children, Parents, and Teachers
During the recent site visit, Roberto and I were inspired by the potential that exists for a new kind of GL program in Honduras. Because we would be working with a much smaller number of students (less than 200, as opposed to the 800-1000 students in other GL programs), there would be time and resources to create a three-pronged holistic program that serves children, their parents, and their teachers.
As in other GL programs, children would be reached through our school enrichment model with local and foreign volunteers serving as role models as they teach innovative, student-centered curricula in classrooms. There are four universities in the town of La Ceiba, and university students have vacation time that would fall during a July GL program. Hence, finding local volunteers is probably only a matter of recruiting and our strong contacts at the universities are confident that in-class visits and open house meetings would be successful there. Foreign volunteers would come from the broader international community, including hopefully experienced volunteers from our other Central American program sites in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Seeing parents as first teachers, the new program would provide home visits and school-based classes for parents in order to help them better support their children’s cognitive development, decision-making abilities, and academic preparation at home. Of course, this parent education would be designed with the context in mind. Based on GL’s current student-centered education training, some aspects of Nurturing Parenting (I trained with them last year), and the research on educational innovation that we’ll be doing this year with the help of the Steven’s Traveling Fellowship, the parent training in the new GL program would be tailored to parents with limited formal education, few material resources, and a strong desire to help prepare their children for life.
Teacher workshops would be the third piece of the Honduran GL program. Last week in Honduras, Roberto and I visited one room schools in which traditional frontal instruction (including very authoritative delivery and corporal punishment) is the norm, but we were touched by teachers doing the best they can with limited training and severe supply deficiencies in very challenging circumstances. They want to learn more and improve as educators. Hence, the Honduran GL program would be a prime spot to expand and develop one of the newer areas of GL programming: teacher workshops.
A Wilderness Context
In addition to the opportunities that exist in the Honduran site with respect to school enrichment, parent education, and teacher training, the context itself would provide Global Learning volunteers the opportunity to stretch and grow because the program would be held in the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. The challenge and beauty of the natural environment in the refuge would surely encourage team bonding, help open minds, and facilitate the crossing of socially constructed cultural, racial, national, and gender boundaries.
Despite its relatively short geographic distance to the city of La Ceiba (only about 20 miles), Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge feels remote because it is not accessible by car (only by boat or small train). The refuge forms a triangle encompassed by the Cuero and Salado rivers and the Caribbean coast, comprises a little over 82 square miles, and was designated a protected area in 1986 because of its endangered manatee population, as well as the complex series of saltwater and freshwater wetlands it contains. If this site is selected to host a GL program, volunteers would divide their time in different parts of the refuge in order to work with various communities within and around the park.
For most of the program, volunteers would live communally in a house borrowed from the Fundación Cuero y Salado (FUSCA) in the center of the refuge that provides ample space for volunteers’ living and working needs (great meeting spaces!), but does not have electricity. Volunteers would travel to and from school by small boat, a tiny train, or on the “burra” (a cart that is human-powered and pushed along railroad tracks left by the fruit company). While living in the house, the team would teach in the communities of Salado, Ceiba Mocha, and La Union. For at least one week of the program, the volunteer team would camp in tents borrowed from FUSCA in a more remote part of the refuge (only accessible by boat) in order to reach students in the community of Cuero.
Alliances with Honduran NGOs
If Global Learning chooses to expand to Honduras, there will be ample opportunity to collaborate with other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the La Ceiba area. In particular, GL would form an alliance with two environmental organizations doing good work in the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge: Fundación Cuero y Salado (FUSCA) and USAID/MIRA (Proyecto Manejo Integrado de Recursos Ambientales). As mentioned, FUSCA would donate housing if this new program goes forward and leaders of both organizations would help to organize volunteer transportation, assist in recruiting local volunteers, contribute locally relevant content to GL’s environmental education lessons, and provide logistical support.
Of course, all Global Learning programs have challenges. As our organizational philosophy reminds us, these challenges are also opportunities. This new possible program in Honduras is no exception. Here are a few of the challenges that Roberto and I noted while on-site:
- Lack of electricity. Certainly, this challenge provides an incredible opportunity for teamwork, flexibility, and simplicity on a program. But, it is hard to store food for a volunteer team without refrigeration. This will create some hurdles related to food. It looks like we would be able to transport nonperishable food in by boat, pay some entrepreneurial local women to supplement what volunteers can cook for themselves, and perhaps rent space in a refrigerator outside of the volunteer house. But, our food costs may be higher than normal in this rural new program.
- Limited transportation options. Because of the remote context, transportation to the work site is fairly limited and relatively expensive. The opportunities embedded in this challenge include chances to be very creative, flexible, and athletic. (Volunteers could build muscles pushing the burra!) The good news is that we could probably borrow a truck from MIRA to get to the boat launch and/or train departure point and FUSCA is willing to help us arrange the most economically feasible transportation options available once inside the refuge.
- Smaller volunteer team. On this site, it may make sense to have a slightly smaller than normal volunteer team (i.e. in the range of 10 to 14 people instead of 18 to 22). This challenge holds many opportunities related to team unity, logistical ease, training possibilities, and initiative. However, with fewer volunteers and the financial aspects of the first two challenges presented above, there will be greater pressure on individual members to fundraise and look for in-kind donations. This being said, housing, communication, and fieldtrip costs will probably be lower than in other GL programs. A small, but hardworking team could certainly raise the money needed to fund this new program.
- A remote wilderness setting. As stated previously, this new program would be held in a wildlife refuge. Bugs, animals, tropical heat, and other natural challenges will surely be part of volunteers’ daily routine. Of course, this challenge holds an incredible amount of opportunity with regard to personal growth, team unity, boundary crossing, learning, and humor. Nonetheless, it will be very important to select volunteers ready for the challenge. Flexibility, always an important characteristic for GL volunteers, will be paramount on this team. It will also be important to have at least a few volunteers on the team who have wilderness first responder medical training.
The Next Steps
Firstly, we need your ideas, doubts, questions, and suggestions. Please contribute them on the GL Blog (www.glinternational.blogspot.com) or email me at email@example.com. The decision of whether or not to expand to Honduras will be made by October 15. Coordinators from all existing sites and the GL Board of Directors will vote, assisted by input from all volunteers. Please make your voice heard.
Secondly, if the general consensus is in favor of the new project in Honduras, we need enough experienced volunteers to commit to returning in 2009 to ensure that we can run our existing programs and staff a new one. We need coordinators and support people in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Mexico. And, of course, an experienced crew in Honduras too. Are you willing to reinvest in GL and help guide one of the upcoming teams? Can you commit by October 15? With your help, we will have an exciting season of creativity and teamwork, starting with an “innovation week” in early June, leadership training at the end of June for all program guides (coordinators and SPs), and then the programs will run in July/beginning of August. (There is a chance that the Honduras program could run in August, but our other programs will run from approximately July 3 through August 2.) If you want to be involved, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 707-365-3287. (If you are outside of the U.S. and want to talk on the phone, please just let me know and I will call you.)
Thank you for your insight and cooperation. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
With respect, gratitude, and cariño,
I hope this message is finding you all well. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jessie, I’m from Maryland and I worked this summer as a support person on the Costa Rica team. It was an incredible experience and I’m psyched about getting the word out about GL to potential new volunteers.
Thank you to those of you also willing to do some recruiting for Global Learning this year. I will be heading this year’s efforts as the recruiting coordinator for the US. I’m here to support you all in your recruitment efforts in your local communities. Each month I’ll send you an update letting you know where you should ideally be with your recruitment. I hope that you will help out. Your promotion and energy are the key to creating a large and diverse applicant pool. Thank you for doing your part!
What follows is an overview of the GL recruiting plan in the U.S. from now until applications are due on February 25, 2009:
- This month we are researching sites and making a decision on where programs will be held in 2009.
- Nessa, who some of you know as a volunteer in Mexico 07 and foreign coordinator in Nicaragua 08, is guiding a committee of volunteers who are updating the written information we’ll use for recruiting in the coming months.
- Volunteers across the U.S. will start planning for informational meetings to be held on our campuses in November (finding a space, putting up flyers, getting the word out).
- U.S.-based volunteers will be emailed documents (flyers, email templates, written info to distribute, etc) and Power Points to use when recruiting.
- Volunteers in the U.S. will email program info and the 09 application to our friends, family, campus clubs, electronic bulletins, and list serves.
- We’ll continue to organize on our campuses and publicize the open (informational) recruiting meetings to be held this month.
- We will hold the informational meetings.
- We will contact professors in order to make 3-minute presentations about GL in ourclasses and at least five classes that are not ours.
- We’ll continue with classroom visits.
- We will contact spring professors about visiting their classes at the start of the new semester.
- We will send emails to the interested contacts we’ve collected from our class visits, with GL information attached and a reminder that applications are due in February.
- We will plan for class visits in the spring semester.
- We will make 3-minute presentations about GL in our classes and at least five classes that are not ours at our college.
- We will make class visits on a nearby college in order to increase the diversity of schools that GL volunteers attend.
- We will send emails to the interested contacts we’ve collected from our class visits, with GL information attached and a reminder that applications are due soon.
- Applications are due February 25. Selection interviews will be held February 25 to March 11.
Recruiting is a rather simple process that is very well supported by GL documents. From emails to professors to a sample 3-minute talk, we have templates. The only thing you need is your enthusiasm for GL and the desire to share this experience with other people. Recruiting is the most important thing we do all year. It forms our teams and it is thanks to these teams that our programs run.
This timeline is a suggestion, a template of what has worked in the past. I encourage you all to take the initiative to be regional recruiting coordinators and lead the effort in your area. If you are interested in recruiting, which I hope you all are, please send me an email letting me know and I’ll keep you informed and send you more detailed information as needed. I look forward to working with you all in your recruitment efforts this year!
¡Hola! Les estoy enviando este mensaje deseando que se encuentren sanos y felices. Luego de saludarlos y de desearles lo mejor en su vida y en la de sus familias, quisiera contarles un poco lo ocurrido cuando yo estuve en Costa Rica colaborando con algunos voluntarios de nuestra organización especial hace dos semanas. (Más información de la semana pasada en Honduras viene en otro mensaje.)
Durante el tiempo que estuve en Liberia con los compañeros, uno de los trabajos que hicimos era investigar opciones de tierra. Hay una posibilidad que vayamos a comprar (con donaciones) un pedazo de tierra para eventualmente construir un sitio propio de Aprendizaje Global, para entrenamiento de voluntarios, talleres de maestros, clases para los niños, etc. Javier, Roberto y yo visitamos a diferentes lotes y aprendimos que hay muchas posibilidades buenas pero también caras. El próximo paso es investigar y analizar la parte del dinero y el presupuesto. Más información viene…
En Costa Rica, además de investigar las opciones de tierra, tuve algunas reuniones muy buenas con compañeros del comité de AG en Liberia. En particular, muchas gracias a Ronny, Javier, Roberto, Yurieth, Maylin y Nacira por su trabajo y colaboración. Había voluntarios que querían pero no podían asistir a las reuniones. Por dicha, hay muchas otras oportunidades por colaborar e integrarse en el comité. Los días para las próximas reuniones son:
viernes 26 de septiembre
viernes 10 de octubre
viernes 24 de octubre
Las reuniones serán en la Universidad de Costa Rica en Liberia, el lugar será por el parquecito o en lugar a decidir si el clima no permite hacerlo ahí; la hora será a las 5:30pm. Pueden llamar a Roberto (2695-8860) para más información.
Información valorable que salió de las reuniones de este mes incluye:
Voluntarios van a tomar turnos siendo la/el guía (“coordinador regional”) del comité en Liberia. El coordinador regional para el mes de octubre es Roberto Vargas Sánchez (2695-8860 o email@example.com). Javier Cruz Gazo será el coordinador regional para el mes de noviembre (8829-6213 o firstname.lastname@example.org). Si quieres ser la/el guía para el mes de diciembre o enero, por favor asistir las reuniones y expresar su deseo colaborar. Las responsabilidades de los guías incluyen preparar las agendas de reuniones y mandarlas a los compañeros antes de las reuniones; mandar los apuntes a todos después de las reuniones; ser la persona de contacto para personas locales; estar en comunicación conmigo; guiar actividades locales; etc.
Para mejorar la comunicación, pueden saber que sus coordinadores regionales van a mandar mensajes electrónicos todos los lunes, esto para que el día martes revisen su correo y conozcan de lo que está sucediendo con el programa.
Publicidad y Reclutamiento:
Con relación a la publicidad, cuando estuve en Liberia tuve la oportunidad de estar en una entrevista en un programa de radio, algo pequeño pero que permitió dar un poco de imagen sobre el programa con la radio de la universidad de Costa Rica el 8 de septiembre (Roberto fue quién realizó la entrevista).
¡Más publicidad por medio del radio viene! Otra voluntaria que podrá ser entrevistada es Nacira, para que hable de su experiencia personal y el programa. El día 22 de septiembre era el plan original pero por cambios en la transmisión se decidió otro día por definir. Pueden llamar a Roberto para más información.
El mes de octubre se espera tener la oportunidad de compartir un poco del programa en una peña cultural en la Universidad de Costa Rica (la fecha todavía no está definida). Para ese día están comprometidos para el trabajo Maylin, Nacira y Roberto, pero todos los que puedan y quieran participar colaborando están invitados a participar en este objetivo.
Ya para el mes de noviembre se piensa desarrollar una casa abierta en donde Yurieth, ha ofrecido su trabajo pero manos que colaboren nunca están de más. La idea de esta casa abierta es tener una reunión para compartir información de AG y reclutar voluntarios nuevos. Espero que muchos de Uds. puedan asistir y compartir sus experiencias.
Donaciones de Costa Rica:
En este año, la meta es conseguir donaciones finánciales de negocios y personas de Costa Rica o quienes viven y trabajan en Costa Rica. Estaremos necesitando el apoyo de todas las personas que de una forma u otra han participado en Aprendizaje Global, y que tiene el deseo, el tiempo y sobre todo la voluntad de facilitar su valiosa colaboración. Ocupamos personas quienes quieren escribir solitudes, formar contactos, hacer presentaciones, traducir documentos y otros trabajos. Si están interesados, por favor asistir una de las reuniones de comité de Liberia, llamar/escribir a Roberto, o escribirme. Gracias por tu ayuda.
Si quieren más detalles de cualquier tema, por favor llamar a Roberto al 26 95 88 60, comunicarse al correo de Roberto (email@example.com), o escribirme al correo del grupo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Les mando vibras positivas y mucho amor, cariño, y risa.
Con todo de mi respecto,