My morning started with a strategy session about how to bring Global Learning Exchange to schools in Guatemala in a way that was digestible for the folks teaching in these schools while maintaining a rigor necessary to make meaningful changes in literacy in a country that doesn't have the most robust literacy culture. From there, we traveled to the largest mall in Central America. It was beautiful. It was probably a better mall than any mall in Missouri. It was beautiful, clean, had every store that you could have asked for, and it oozed of luxury. Miraflores was a great space, but it wasn't representative of the reality check that was yet to come. Lake Amatitlan is a beautiful crater lake that is home to villages and squatters that exist in the most poverty that I've ever experienced. I was embarrassed to be there. I felt like I was a voyeur to a space and time that isn't acceptable to anyone. This was the first space that we were bringing the power of the Global Learning Exchange, and my first reaction was that there is no way that we could make an impact in this space. We toured the space with the gentleman that serves as doctor, mentor, and caretaker of this property. He hosts 26 children in his after-school space from 1:30-7:00 p.m. on every day that he can. He knows the importance of education, and he works to support these children every day. Only one of the 26 children have a mother with a sixth grade education, and the homes of all of these children are squatters' homes. The doctor running this program called where they live, which is across from the after school space, "the belt of misery". The children learning in the space maintained an energy for learning, and continued my believe that all humans have the curiosity to learning and the desire to love fellow humans. We introduced the XO Tablets, the projector, and the fresh opportunity to be a part of a digital learning space to the kids, and my gut which was telling me that this was a hopeless space turned to a place of hope and tears as I watched the technology tools of learning begin to do their magic. All of the students were reading orally from the projector for a long time. I doubted their stamina, but they maintained their reading and showcased their comprehension. When we placed the tablets in their hands to explore, the learning and engagement intensified. For hours, students were exploring, learning, and enjoying being in a learning community with fellow learners. It definitely has me believing that schools in the states can and should support this work. We need book drives for our schools. We need digital image dictionaries for our youngest learners. We need blogger to talk about life in the United States. We need student making simple childrens' books. Before the day was over, I got to play soccer with the kids, take pictures with them, and dedicate myself to this project in a deeper way. Five schools to go, and five more parts to this story. Everyone deserves a chance....
|Jose and David project our first book on the XO Tablet for the kids.|
|Eduardo and Jose, our driver and translator, have the biggest hearts of all of us. |
They want to change their country, one school at a time.
|Digital learning can happen anywhere. This girl looks like she has been handling a tablet for year. |
Swiping, pinching, and learning from the moment it ended up in her hands.
|Lake Amatitlan is a beautiful place with the harsh reality of poverty everywhere.|
It was a great place to Lead Strong.
|Deep poverty should erase hope, but there is beauty in every space and every person.|
We must bring a chance to every child.
|Running water changed the equation for this single mom. Her home was humble, but her heart was rich.|
|Beautiful souls. Let us not consign them to less than we would want for our children.|