The adult literacy campaign ¡Alfabetiza! San Martín Esperillas 2014 has been working hard these past months with 9 training sessions for the new volunteers of the program. They have learned about Paulo Freire’s philosophy on pedagogy, the teaching methods involving the “generating word” and other topics linked to education and community participation that will be the base of their work during the summer in the Tlacotepec county in the state of Puebla. We also collaborated with a specialized linguist who gave us training on Ngigua (the local language), tools for working with foreign communities and rescuing languages from disappearing.
The last weekend of March we did our first reconnaissance and diagnostic trip to San Martín Esperillas to know how many people will be taking our classes this year and gather information relevant to the planning of our two-month-stay. This is the community we worked with last year but we need to update our information regularly for the program’s purposes.
We would like to finish this time with two testimonies from girls who went to San Martín Esperillas for the first time:
“Climbing a hill with my interviewing squad, sharing a little bit of our lives, knowing that we are finally united here, feeling the cold wind in my face, acknowledging and respecting each others’ space, knowing more about the lives of those who opened their homes’ and lives’ doors for us to peek and learn from them; I consider all this is a great gift. After hardly sleeping at all and the sun and sand in my eyes, I returned happy and motivated to my own home. With great energy to continue with the activities we need to accomplish before the summer and with the feeling of doing something different, planting seeds of hope.”
“I liked very much that the people were so kind when they received us in their homes. They stopped doing whatever it was that they were doing to give us a moment. I think that if people came to my house for an interview I would have said no, I would have said I was busy, while the people in San Martín would engage with us or ask us with genuine interest what we were doing there, sometimes they would even recognize us (as the adult literacy campaign ¡Alfabetiza! group)”
After the success achieved during the summer of 2013 in our project, in which we worked in 3 different communities in the State of Puebla, we started the process of self-evaluation and re-thinking aspects of our project to improve our model with 2014 in mind. Now we have new coordination teams in our literacy campaigns ¡Alfabetiza!, whom are about to launch the calling for the present year's volunteers to be part of the group of teachers.
Tomorrow Tuesday I wake up really early to go work in my fields of corn and beans. I take two people that help me. We all go in a truck that, sometimes, doesn't start, hahaha. One time the teachers Ximena and Isabel came with us to pick peaches and they came back really tired.
Summer vacations are over and with this both adult education and literacy campaigns '¡Alfabetiza!' came to a good end. Both volunteer work groups are now in the stage of post-campaign, self-evaluating their work and thinking proposals on how to improve the project next year. Throght these pages we present preliminary results on each of the campaigns.
A group of 28 volunteers worked and lived for seven weeks in San Martin Esperillas, located in the Municipality of Tlacotepec,in the state of Puebla. This is the first of three summers we implement the campaign in this community.
As a first year of intervention in the community, it was very important to begin with a diagnostic built from the participation in class (about 2500 lective hours) and the different community work activities.
The successful incorporation of 140 adults meant a great challenge for literacy teachers and learners because of the conditions of constant migration from the village people and crop season which is demanding and time consuming. Through clases and additional sessions, these new social spaces for popular education focused on the implementation of small learning projects with communitary strategic vision.
Working in this community raised significant intercultural factors for literacy, as an example, one of the core themes was the acknowledgment and appreciation of Ngigua language- commonly known as Popoloca - which is the mother tongue of the people of the region, almost all of them bilingual.
Although the main target of our project group are adults, along three weeks, a workshop with local children (60 boys and girls) was held which also worked the appreciation of language and rescue of Ngigua local history, therefore the academic proposal of this campaign was very encouraging and throwed positive results. In conclusion, during this year, ¡Alfabetiza! has reinvented the methodology used so far , allowing better teaching and learning models with more proper tools for community development and positions us as a dynamic and constantly changing program.
Formed by a group of 56 mostly young volunteers from high school students and above, the campaign was implemented for the third consecutive year in San Miguel and Santiago Tecuanipa Tochimizolco , but for the first time to the community of Santa Cruz Cuautomatitla, the three villages belong to the municipality of Tochimilco in the state of Puebla.
From June 2nd to July 23rd, the group lived in the preschool facilities of San Miguel Tecuanipa and targeted 320 people from the three communities for campaign activities, either in classes usually taught in homes of the inhabitants or attending to any of the group sessions and discussion activities
In addition to increasing the number of volunteers, raising the number of adult participants and extending hours of lectures, an additional factor of qualitative growth was the nature of the classes. Moreover, many of the study groups achieved - without leaving the literacy objective- a varied and rich discussion on key topics such as: gender, local representation, lack of public services, historical analysis, community and identity, health and herbology, among many other considerations.
This critical and analytical approach was the motivation for the collective work sessions, where a reinforced message on promoting discussions among participants towards significant learning experiences was made. We hope these moments continue in our absence, either within each home or in public spaces.
Like every year the two groups that conform our literacy project “¡Alfabetiza! Campaign for adult education” have been busy with our pre-campaign this year. This pre-campaign is a 4 month period where we learn all we need to face the 2-month-long campaign successfully. During this time we prepare ourselves through workshops, classes and seminars to train ourselves in the use of educational tools that will enable our work in the communities we'll be teaching how to read and write during the summer. We have also been raising the funds and gathering the material resources we'll need to live in the community and give classes.
The group headquartered in the “Colegio de Bachilleres Logos” and the “Instituto Luis Vives”, began their work on February 5th. The group is split in 4 different commissions, each one in charge of a specific task, that put together, will guarantee the success of the objectives stated for our campaign this year. As a group, we have worked hard to acquire the abilities and the theoretical framework, philosophical and pedagogical, that will guide the entirety of the campaign, understood as the classes we'll be teaching as much as our actions in the community we'll be living in.
This past month we completed several important steps. We held our 4th seminar on self-management and education where, through 7 presentations, we revised the objectives and concepts that underlie our work. We also finished our sessions on the “generating routes” methodology as part of our basic training, resulting in the planning and application of the diagnostic survey which took place on our preparation trip on May 3rd through 5th. This trip served several purposes: we introduced our group to all of the people we'll work with, we applied the survey which gives us the number of students we'll be having this year and collects all the information we'll need to plan the workshops we'll be holding during the summer, this survey will also be helpful towards planning the further development of the Community Library that has been working since the summer of 2011.
These coming weeks will conclude the process before the campaign begins. We leave for Tochimilco on June 3rd to start ¡Alfabetiza! Tochimilco 2013. Before we do, we still have work to do. We'll be having our last sessions on teaching History and Mathematics, we'll define our work program inside and outside of class and this week we're holding the “De la A a la Z” event, which will help us reach our economic goal.
The other group, based on the “Colegio Bilbao”, has been working for 4 months now. During this time 16 training sessions have been held with 30+ volunteers from many different schools. We have been learning about the “Palabra Generadora” methodology and the pedagogical philosophy of Paulo Freire.
We have our sessions every Saturday at Adeco A.C. These have covered class simulations, discussions on terms such as codification and decodification, dialogue, community, horizontal education, cultural encouragement and others that will be the base of our classes. We have also learned about how to teach vowels, what illiteracy implies and the different levels and other practical components like community insertion and contextual analysis for illiteracy.
Unlike past experiences, we are planning on working with a bilingual community. This new experience we are taking on with great awareness and responsibility. This means we have developed, along with specialists in inter-cultural and bilingual education, a new pedagogical approach with which we will be working in this indigenous community.
The community we'll be working with is San Martín Esperilla, in Tlacotepec, Puebla. The language they speak is “ngigua” or “popoloca”. We have been to the community and talked about the project with them. Most people were interested, welcoming and cooperative towards this endeavor which will only be successful with their help and interest. We will be starting on June 10th.
These coming weeks we will be sharing with you some of the experiences we have in these communities and the status of our work in them. We would like to remind you that we are open and willing to answer any questions, suggestions or doubts you might have for us. We would like very much for you to contact us with anything regarding our activities.
Last August 4 culminated the fieldwork of ¡Alfabetiza! Adult Education (Literacy) Campaign 2012. The campaign was conducted in four communities, two of them in Querétaro. In the town of Colón, near the city of Queretaro, we worked in La Zorra and Nogales. These towns participated in a process of continuity and strengthening of actions, as the project was implemented in the years 2007 and 2008. The other two communities are located in Puebla. Like the previous year we are working at the slopes of Popocatepetl, in the towns of San Miguel Tecuanipa and Santiago Tochimizolco.
As always, youth literacy volunteers lived in towns and worked for 8 weeks teaching classes in literacy and basic education for youth and adults while promoting work and community organization through sports, cultural, training and coexistence activities.
This time we will present two project testimonials that are the result of daily classes and workshops. These show the learning that was achieved through constant practice of literacy. Both publications, through the words of the students, rescued the characteristics of the place they live and show the everyday, problems, dreams and relationships between people.
In Tochimilco a book was published entitled Tales and truths of my people. The Book of Popocatepetl in which, throughout its 239 pages and according to the preface written by the inhabitants, the book 'tells about some of the two very different communities, people who want to share their experiences, stories and truths of their town'.
In Colón, it was published The Craftsman, a magazine that involved the journalism work of the students to show some aspects of Nogales and La Zorra today. Some of the writings it contains are 'Life then and now', 'The art of carving stone in extinction', 'In my community should' and 'The Red pulque'.
These were some of the strategies that the ¡Alfabetiza! project found to promote literacy, for adults and young people in these communities to recover their right to speak and to create opportunities for discussion and thoughts on life in their communities.
During the recent months we have been working on what we call post-campaign: a space for reflection, evaluation and closure of ¡Alfabetiza! 2012 that inevitably is connected with the planning of activities for 2013. Soon we will have news about the new group of volunteers and developments needed.
We are pleased with the results so far, but we know that there is still much to be done with these people that has opened the doors of their houses and given us the confidence to meet them, learn from them and work with them. Because of this, and because learning or teaching is a never ending process, we plan to continue our work in communities Tochimilco in Puebla, for the third consecutive year, adding even efforts to make the two work centers perform their campaigns in nearby communities and strengthen their processes interacting with each other and any other programs from Adeco.
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