Day One On The Field!
Today (day 4 in this adventure) was exciting! I decided to get myself out there, out of my books and research to make sure I didn’t get ‘analysis paralysis.’ I definitely wasn’t ready yet or had a fully thought out plan on what to say to others but I’m so glad I pushed myself to go and do it! (specially because school is almost out!).
So I went and visited the 3 public schools in town, La Manare, Ezequiel and Fabio, I managed to meet with two out of the three of the principals and when I told them I wanted to help the community they looked a bit taken by surprise but willing to hear me out. Once we sat down I started mentioning ideas like helping them with getting English teacher volunteers from the states (which they LOVED!) and also with my volunteer program idea to give the kids something to do outside of school and keep them from less desirable extracurriculars. They were all about it and so supportive. It was amazing. You can tell they truly care about their kids and the community, one of them even offered to open up his house and give room and board to 2 of the volunteers. Both of them also said they’ll help me set up an assembly or a time to talk to the kids (4,200 between those two schools!) before school is out. Since these are K-11th schools I may just start with the older kids since they’re the ones that can volunteer. Anyways, that felt great to know that I have their support and they agree that I’m headed down the right path and it really has the potential to do good :)
After those visits, I also went to a faculty meeting for our own school, Lontananza, and met with the principal and the teachers to give them an update on things and make sure they were okay with it! I will write about the origins of Lontananza soon but here’s the short of it: my mom started a kick-ass school and even though as a family we’ve tried to keep it alive and well, we just haven’t found the time with our jobs. Thankfully the teachers and principal are all amazing and really care for the school so they’ve kept it up! Because of this it was very important to go and meet with them to personally tell them about the expansion plans that I had in mind for the foundation and to make sure it was okay with them to go further than the school and to include public schools and the community, making the children and all of their education and opportunities our priority. They are the future of the town and hopefully will go on to do great things in the country one day. I guess our main goal could be said is to help shape future leaders :) Also, Colombia just passed a law that allows citizens to start voting at 16yrs old (which I think is fantastic!). Anyways, the meeting went great! They were all also very supportive and giving lots of great volunteer ideas and insights into the current conditions of the school :)
Another idea I ran by them is the one about me reading all of the research that is in English on childhood development, teaching, and running schools and sharing it with them in Spanish. They all seemed to really love it which made me very happy! There’s nothing more important in this world than great educators for our kids, and those that get excited by these things, you can tell are in it for the right reasons!
Okay so last thing, and maybe I’ll leave the details for another post… but I’m reading this book: Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits and there’s one section they touched on that I read today that made me so happy to be where I am, it made me think ‘ah! This is where I belong!’ It said that great non-profits, unlike businesses, are all about partnering up, building each other up (other non-profits), and about making the greatest impact in their communities rather than competing. The best non-profits out there share all of their resources and findings with others and even use their funding to help others, all with the end goal of having the most impact towards their mission/ cause.
Off I go to some more reading! Next big thing on my plan: meet with that 3rd principal and come up with a more thought out volunteer program to share with everyone and get in front of the kids with! Hopefully being persuasive enough to get some interest and sign-ups!