There is lots to report with this program. The six weeks of summer camp were really amazing! Around 30 campers led by around 12 counselors throughout the summer had a lot of fun and learned a lot of English! Stations included Arts & Crafts, Story Time, Songs, and Active Games. Most of the campers were sponsored campers from marginalized communities whereas others were registered and paid for by their parents. Most of the counselors were from the United States with a few from Canada and the UK.
On August 20th we launched our English immersion pre-school! The idea seems somewhat foreign to many community members and registration has been quite low, but several have promised to register in October. This is a bit of a pilot program and it is important that we carry it through so that people can observe, get used to the idea, and consider registering their 2, 3, and 4 year old children in the future.
Three students were granted scholarships this year. Miguelina Joseph was once again awarded a scholarship to attend the Colegio Sueño de Los Niños and has entered the 7th grade. Eriverto Osbaldo has also again received a scholarship to attend the same school and is attending 5th grade. Lastly, Freddy Jean Piet has been awarded a scholarship to attend the university OyM in Puerto Plata and is studying modern languages.
Thank you so much for your support!
Things have been going well with the Change My Stars program. We are preparing for camp this summer by visiting private schools and handing out flyers as well as handing them out in front of the camp building. We don't hand out flyers at public schools because there is a fee to attend camp and the average public school student wouldn't likely be able to pay. This is why we have our camper sponsorship program as well. We have two of our desired 11 campers sponsored. We have had many people e-mail to inquire about volunteering as camp counselors , a few which have already sent in their trip fees. Our goal is to register 50 campers and have 10 counselors per week. Our volunteer response has been so well that w may open a second camp at our school in the community of Muñoz with a goal of having five more volunteers per week.
Our two students attending private school on scholarship are both continuing to do well. WE are raising funds to award another scholarship that wuld send a bright young man to college. We are a little less of a quarter of the way to raising funds for his first year, which is needed before he cna register for classes in September.
We are working on speaking to the correct government department (being sent from one department to another) about opening our English immersion pre-school in the fall and we already have parents hoping to register their children. We are accepting applications for three pre-school teachers if anyone is interested. Teachers should be native English speakers, have experience working with young children, be patient, and culturally sensitive, and hav at least a little teaching experience as well.
Thank you for your support! Please help us spread our blog in order to get all 11 campers sponsored and to have 10 volunteers sign up per week (6 weeks long) of camp.
To recap, we run an English immersion camp during the summers, last summer being the first one, but it's something we plan on doing annually. The plan is to run an English immersion pre-school during the school year and the camp during the summers. The pre-school did not launch this year because we got started advertising way too late. So it is scheduled to launch fall 2012. And then the third component of Change My Stars is a scholarship program, where we have two scholarship holders this year.
Because the pre-school did not go, we have been making other use of the building in order to hold onto it until camp, and then pre-school. We are trying to use it to create an income to sustain itself, and while we're moving in the right direction, things are tough. We are late on rent this month and about to have to pay the Internet, phone, and electric bill, without funds available to do so. During camp, the program was self-sustainable because we collected fees from volunteer counselors who stayed in the building as well as campers who attended camp. When the pre-school is running, it will also be sustainable from student fees. However, we are now running it as a hostel with an art shop and some other things going on inside. So in order for it to be sustainable, we need more guests to stay at the hostel and more sales to be made at our art shop - both in town and online. We invite anyone who has a good attitude and is ready to serve to join us by staying in the hostel and volunteering in different ways. E-mail Hostel@EsperanzaMeansHope.org for more information if you have any interest in this.
We semi-attempted to run a mini camp during this Christmas break. A counselor from this past summer was prepared to come and run it. But we did not get enough other volunteers to sign up to turn it into a reality. Project Esperanza is now planning to launch its new website and will begin advertising for volunteers for the summer of 2012. A professional photographer volunteer who was here snapped photos of our sponsored campers and their families, which we will focus on the blog in order to get supporters that will enable them to attend camp again this summer.. some for the first time. We are just waiting to receive these photos from the photographer.
We are beginning to search for pre-school teachers for the pre-school next fall. Teachers should have a wonderful attitude, should be highly responsible and cautious as they will be responsible for small children, and should have some teaching experience as well as strong Spanish skills. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you or anyone you know has any interest. This position does include a stipend.
Lastly, we have one new scholarship recipient in mind. He has volunteered with Project Esperanza since the very beginning of 2007 and just recently graduated from high school. So we will do a specific scholarship for his university and will collect donations among his many friends he has made from their visits here. We hope, therefore, to be able to send Freddy Jean Piet to college beginning in the fall of 2012.
That is all that we have going on for now. Thank you for your support! Please help us spread the word about volunteers and visitors to come soon and stay in the hostel, for people to make purchases from the online store, for volunteer camp counselors this summer, and for pre-school teachers for next year. Also, keep an eye on the blog for the campers who need sponsors! Thank you! Happy Holidays!
The English immersion camp during summer vacation went very well for the first summer. Throughout the summer we had 11 volunteer counselors and 24 campers. 5 campers were sponsored to attend the camp by anonymous donors, three were sonsored by their consistent supporter, and three attended in exchange for their mother helping out voluntarily. The other 13 campers were registered and paid for by their parents. So this gave a mix of campers from different parts of the community, different social classes, and different school experiences. Each week of camp had specific learning objectives and activities used to achieve the objectives. You can read about each of the five weeks on the camp's blog.
At the end of the camp, counselors made donations to grant scholarships to two of the anonymously sponsored campers. The scholarships were presented on the last day of camp and were used to register and pay the tution for the two campers in a higher quality private school or colegio as opposed to the lower quality public school they had previously attended. Upon preparing these students for the enw school year, one factor was overlooked - the colegio requires students to purchase their own books, totaling around $120 per student. Counselors, upon finding this out, donated funds to purchase books for one student, but not both. Therefore, some books were purchased for each student but not all. That is still a need.
Additionally, one of our anonymously sponsored campers should be in first grade this year but his family is having a really tough time and a month and a half into the school year he is still wandering around and playing outside during school hours. So it would be good to have a (late) scholarship to enroll him in school as well. Although he has some attention issues, he had great attendance at camp and, like our two scholarship recipients, displays lots of potential.
As far as the pre-school is concerned, we had hoped to start that this school year but did not have enough students register to be able to do so. No pre-school students were sponsored. We realize now that we got started advertising for the school quite late and will start well into the previous school year in order for it to open fall 2012. We feel confident that the camp will have great registration next summer as interest had really built by the end of this summer, especially among the friends of campers.
During this school year we still have some private English lessons going on and we are trying to prepare for next year by creating partnerships and searching for funding. In order to create an ongoing scholarship fund we really should have consistent income. As long as those who received scholarships this year continue to do well, we should continue providing aid so that they can stay enrolled at the private school and not take a step back down to public school. We should also grant new students with scholarships in future years. This will require consistent income.
Additionally, we should have back up funding for the pre-school to ensure that, even if enough students are not registered or sponsored to cover the pre-school's expenses, the back up funds can fill in the gap and allow the school to function. This year also gives us more time to research different schools in the area and to study various pre-school curriculums.
All in all, we are quite excited about this developing program. Thank you so much for your support!
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