Dec 21, 2016

Our New Learning Center Means Greater Success for Students



Children lining up outside the learning center
As the clock nears 1pm a line starts to form outside the green metal learning center doors. The eager children chatter while they wait. Volunteers and ayudantes work swiftly to prepare the center for the afternoon sessions. Some volunteers are creating name tags for the children, cutting tan card stock into squares and writing down each child's name. Ayudantes Luis and Francisco set up the tablets and computers for the computer classes. Maria and Scarleth prepare to check in the children and let them choose their first learning station. The children can hardly contain their excitement and smile gleefully. 


How it all began

Practicing Spanish with coloring
The idea for the learning center has been a long time in the making. Shortly after her first volunteer experience with La Esperanza Granada, Pauline realized there was a huge gap in the educational experience of Granada's children. During a brief return trip to Australia, she saw that many of the children there spent time learning in the home before and after school. Doing crafts, working on computers, practicing their lessons.

The Nicaraguan children in these impoverished barrios have no access to even basic resources in the home: pens, crayons, paper, books, craft materials or computers. Often they don't even have a table and chair where they can sit and do homework or crafts. Building the learning centers became a way to supplement this need that the schools and parents who often have little or no formal education could not meet.

How it works

The learning center is open every day. It's a safe and clean environment where children can come during their free hours outside their normal school classes to continue learning. The children that attend are truly engaged in learning and are well behaved, compared to large size classes in school where children can often become bored and misbehave as a result.

As it's just getting started, we are only working with the younger children who would normally attend school in the mornings so the learning center is only open now in the afternoons. The center operates three one hour sessions from 1pm to 4pm. There are four stations available to the children in the center: math, Spanish, art and computers. Each child can only attend the same station twice during one visit, and must stay in their chosen station for the entire one hour session.

The children create paper gatos
Volunteers and ayudantes assist the children with engaging and interactive math and Spanish games. They lead creative art projects where the kids get to take home something they created every day. They help the kids learn how to use and navigate engaging learning games and activities on the computers and tablets.

Going forward

The learning centers present a unique opportunity for us to truly help the children in Granada learn, and we mean really learn, as opposed to simply copying words and sentences from the chalk board as is often the reality of normal school classes where resources are stretched very thin. The plan is to build two more centers during the first half of 2017, with the help of Builders Beyond Borders.

Two of our university sponsorship graduates
More importantly, we need a dedicated director for the learning center program, to oversee the operation and management of all the centers as they continue to open. It's very rare that a job like this exists in Nicaragua, and too often it goes to someone who is not a native of this country. Our hope is to hire one of the students that graduated from our university scholarship program. It benefits one of the students we've helped succeed in school, and a local person will understand the needs and desires of the local communities far better than anyone else, and will be willing to commit for a greater length of time.

In order to hire one of these lucky graduates we need $3000 per year. While that doesn't seem like much by U.S. or European standards, that's a pretty outstanding salary in Nicaragua for a very demanding and time consuming commitment.

You can help

We're trying something new. We're asking for support from our fans and past volunteers to help raise the funds for this critically important position through a fundraiser on Generosity.com. We're hoping to raise $12,000 to fund this position for four years. We chose to fund raise using this method as a way to better engage our online community and gain traction outside our normal donor list. 

We're immensely grateful for all our current and past volunteers and from our regular donors that sponsor many local high school and university students, but we need support outside those avenues to continue growing and providing greater opportunity through education for the children of Granada. Please share our fundraiser with your friends, family and social networks and make a donation if you can. Any amount helps.

Watch to learn more about our fundraiser




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