Summer 2013 Community Outreach and Education Goals : A Narrative
The summer 2013 is an exciting time for Kalu Yala as San Miguel will have the largest number of interns in San Miguel that it has ever had. What an exciting time to be a Director!
I’m a big fan of goals, of dreams and of themes. This Summer Semester I would like to focus on two big themes, as well as detail a few goals.
The first of the themes for this summer is to turn ideas into actions. One of the largest struggles in San Miguel is when interns realize that perhaps doing things in San Miguel is slightly more complicated than they originally thought. I want every intern (and myself) to accomplish a great amount but the foundation of that is turning ideas, no matter how simple, into action. These ideas can be something big like starting and creating a vegetarian restaurant. These ideas can also be small such as grow closer to the interns. Either way, I hope that people act on their ideas. Too much of my own life has been sent living in my head with great ideas, and I want to start acting on them. I hope San Miguel as a whole can work to turn ideas into actions. The theme will be to just do something. You might fail, but then keep trying. Keep doing something. Keep learning and growing and sharing your idea with the world!
The second theme is to listen more than we speak. By that I don’t mean we should actually measure our words to listening ratio (I’m working on that technology) but rather have that sort of mentality with the town. Something that San Miguel certainly does is humble you. You realize that perhaps the best way we can help the great people here isn’t a crazy innovative-would-work-in-the-USA idea but rather just listening and working with them. I would like our philosophy to be one of empowerment and working with them rather than helping or teaching them. I think a good way articulate this is with the phrase listen more than we speak.
With those two themes, I can detail a few concrete (and a few abstract) goals for this summer semester. Lets get started!
1) Continue building relationships in school, implement MEDUCA (official Panamanian) curriculum into our ESL classes and develop more sustainable and lasting lessons
but why? Kalu Yala has been teaching in the schools for a few years. However, we have never developed a strong (and lasting) relationship with MEDUCA (what would be the equivalent of the Education Department). This past semester we received the official national curriculums for all grade levels in terms of English. A big goal is to begin the process of implementing those and adjusting our curriculum to fit the National standards. In that, I think working with the teachers more in the San Miguel school is imperative. This can be as simple as starting conversations with teachers and listening to why they became teachers, the reasoning behind their pedagogy in the classroom and how they think we can be more effective teachers. To start this shift in the way we approach teaching in schools will help Kalu Yala be seen as both more credible and more willing to understand and learn from the San Miguel culture.
2) Build Casa Llena culture
but why? Casa Llena, the house in San Miguel where the staff of Kalu Yala lives is a beautiful large yellow house. As an intern, the culture was one of reading, watching TED talks, writing and going for walks. I loved my time there and think that we can add more to it. Kelly and I have already added a work/study/quiet room with an awesome whiteboard that was painted on (thanks Kelly’s parents!) I would love Cass Llena is to have a great vibrant culture that reflects the internship. I would love for there to be late night discussions on topics both silly and serious. I would love there to be be programming and sharing of talents , skills and recipes. I would love to see interns get 10 minutes every month to teach the rest of us how do something if it’s yoga to breakdancing to building a chair. I know the Directors living in San Miguel (Kelly, Maria and myself) all have grand plans to make Casa Llena an awesome place to live.
3) Start working on Vegetarian Fonda
but why? One of my favorite moments of my internship is when we asked this fantastic lady in San Miguel (love you Aura!) what her dreams were. She responded that she would love to open a Vegetarian Fonda (fonda means restaurant). We thought this was an amazing goal and perfectly aligns with Kalu Yala’s mission. Working together with the Panamanian government through AMYPME, a government organization that lends out microloans, we can find sources of external funding and make this a reality.
4) Build Adult Class and start Conversation Coffee Hour
but why? Our adult classes in San Miguel have traditionally not brought too many adults, although there seems to be interest in just about everyone to learn english. However, this last semester we worked to build the classes and bring in more students. By the end of the semester we still had a small, but yet very committed group. An idea that came from asking one of our students in his class how we could better serve him came when he told us he would love a conversation hour where he practices english through conversations. A Kalu Yala idea in the past has been to do a “coffee conversation hour” and with the genuine interest coming from the students in San Miguel and with an absurdly awesome group of interns, I think we can make this happy.
5) Continuation of successful San Miguel projects
1. After school programs
2. Rio Clean-Up Day
3. Video pen-pal project
4. Casa Llena chicken coop and garden
5. To expand the definition of the Education program beyond ESL classes