Jan 9, 2017

It Takes a Village!

CAA Student Workshop - Values and Volunteerism
CAA Student Workshop - Values and Volunteerism

Nothing excited our 23 scholarship students more in early December than finishing the term and focusing on Christmas holidays with a 2 month break from school. For a number of these students, Chirstmas vacation included a daily ritutual of helping the family pick coffee in the mountians all around San Ramon, not exactly a vacation. But, first we thought it important that students and their families reflect on the academic achievements and challenges of the past year, and to identify the necessary steps to exceed those academic levels in the coming year.  To accomplish this, we organized a half-day counseling and workshop for December 10th aimed to keep these students focused on continued growth in 2017.

With the help of our 5 volunteer university social workers, and under the direction of our licensed volunteer social worker, JF, we sat down with the mothers or fathers of the scholarship students to review last year's grades hoping to identify academic, attendance, conduct, or special need issues that we could help improve.  While the parent interviews were being conducted, University of Costa Rica 3rd-4th year social worker students engaged the scholarship students in a workshop emphasizing the importance of Positive Values and Giving Back through Volunteerism.

For some parents, this discussion was the first focused review and discussion of their child's academic record, and it allowed for a candid discussion with trained social workers about their child's progress. In some cases, the parent had not even reviewed the grades much less discussed them with the child! These interviews identified 3 students that will require closer monitoring and family intervention during the next school term - to change behaviors that are impacting academic progress.  And, we identified 2 others with vision problems that need special eyeglasses.

In the case of one very athletic high school student whose grades had fallen over the second term of 2016, the interview identified that the student had been misinformed by other students that he would be able to get a university scholarship based solely on his athletic strengths, and it didn't really matter about his mediocre academic record.  After a prolonged discussion with JF, a social worker and a former university admissions and financial assistance advisor, the student and his mother came to understand that without a strong academic record, even a good athlete would not hope to get into Costa Rica's public universities, much less get government financial assistance.   Hopefully, this discussion, and some first term scheduled follow-up counseling sessions in March and April, will enable this student to refocus on both his academics and his athletics and get back on course in 2017. 

With the help of some capable volunteers, the CAA Education Committee applauded the academic success of the vast majority of our students, and identified 3 students that will require closer monitoring of progress to get back on course.

It really does take a village to successfully raise and educate a child - and without these dedicated social worker volunteers and your financial help through Global Giving, some of these students would slip through the cracks and drop out of school.  We send our special thanks to all of you who continue to be members of our extended village! 

 

 

Oct 14, 2016

CAA Scholarship Program's First High School Completion Is A Very Important Milesone

JCS, July 2016 Scholarship Awards
JCS, July 2016 Scholarship Awards

All 23 of the CAA Educational Scholarship students are working hard as they approach the last 8 weeks of the 2016 school year, but our spotlight today is on a quiet, determined 12th grade student who was raised in the coffee producing mountains west of San Ramon. 

Josué (Joshua) finishes the 12 grade this December, and is preparing to take his Bachellerato Tests necessary to get his diploma. Gaining a high school diploma will be a first for the family, and Josué and his sister, also in high school, have been encouraged by their parents who are also taking courses after work to get their own high school diplomas.  Both parents dropped out of school many years ago, as was customary then, in order to work the coffee fields and raise a family. In fact, in Josué’s rural pueblo, only a handful of the parents of students now of high school age progressed beyond the 6th or 8th grade, and only two actually completed high school.  So, for this family, earning a high school diploma is a very big deal!

Josué and his family have faced numerous challenges during his high school years --- the family lost their home and all its furnishings in a fire a few years ago, and it took a concerted family effort to recover from that loss.  We were able to help Josué replace his laptop, but this fire was devastating and disrupted his school work. 

And, like many students expected to already know some English as a second language before entering high school, Josué struggled because his rural elementary school did not have an English instructor. With the help of local English-speaking tutors including CAA volunteers, Josué has been able to progress to the final Bachellerato tests in November.   

And, Josué’s preparation was not just limited to studying in high school---he also works many weekends to support his education and family, and he participates in a young adult leadership group in San Ramon based on recommendations from high school officials.

We wish Josué success with his tests and achieving that diploma.  Hopefully, it will open the door to university studies, or a promising career.  

This also is a milestone to celebrate for the CAA Educational Scholarship program. Josué is the first of our CAA scholarship program student to be able to reach for that diploma. Looking forward to 2018, three more CAA students will likely stand at the same point, sweating out their Bachillerato Tests, and, hopefully, marching forward to receive a high school diploma. 

We share this success story with you, our generous Global Giving supporters.  Your gifts helped to prepare Josué to get this diploma, and with your continued support, more students will have the opportunity to achieve the same. By working together, we are making a difference, one student at a time.

Jul 20, 2016

Leadership and Volunteerism - A Challenge to CAA's Education Scholarship Students in 2016

Francisco's Smile_ Says It All! CAA Awards July 20
Francisco's Smile_ Says It All! CAA Awards July 20

On July 16th, the CAA Education Committee presented Educational Scholarship vouchers to 23 worthy students to get these students ready for the second term of the school year. This term’s recipients included 14 elementary students, 9 high school students, and 1 University of Costa Rica student serving as the scholarship program administrator Intern. This term’s awards represent an investment of almost 1,750, 000 colones (about $3,200 USD) to buy the shoes, uniforms, and school supplies that help keep these students in school.    

The theme of this session was student leadership development, citizen responsibility, and giving back through volunteerism.

Our program administrator Intern, lead a group activity to identify and focus on personal goals: Each of the students had the opportunity to introduce themselves, state their academic and personal development goals, and to identify their favorite activity.  It is no secret in Costa Rica that soccer is the national sport, so it was no surprise that soccer was the favorite activity.  However, one young woman reported that working with computers was her passion - a student that is willing to break away from the pack!

And, to encourage leadership among our high school scholarship students, FRR also challenged these students to examine the importance of water in their daily lives, and identify opportunities for citizens to prepare for an increasingly drought-impacted Central America.  This challenge was introduced in an earlier June  session, and the student panel reported their findings at the Awards Presentation on the 16th.

  • The student panel identified the important role of forests in protecting our natural water resource-production areas; proper waste disposal and recycling; and healthy eating choices that reduce the impact of cattle as a source of pollution, erosion, and as a driver of the conversion of forests into pastures.
  • Additionally, the students identified the need for improved awareness of the impact of trash and waste management on communities and the quality of water resources; the need for more training on water conservation practices around the home and in agriculture; and the impact of agro-chemical use as a contaminant of surface and ground water/general health.
  • In summary, the panel recognized that Costa Rica’s historical water abundance situation is changing, and citizens and the government must take action to more carefully manage water resources over the coming decades. And, introducing this topic to elementary students at a young level was suggested as the way to build awareness and gradually change wasteful and destructive practices.

JF, CAA Education Committee Volunteer and licensed social worker, engaged the students on the importance of adopting a culture of volunteerism – to identify opportunities to grow and develop personal leadership skills through volunteer activities.  If they do, these students will be better prepared to become productive citizens, stand out in the job market, and provide benefits to the community. The help that is being provided to these students through the  CAA organization comes with expectations - those receiving help now should make the time to volunteer and help others in the future. In response to Johanna’s comments, a number of parents voiced their support for encouraging youngsters and parents to volunteer for the benefit of the community, and thanked the CAA for the support.    

Additionally, the Committee identified 9 students, mostly female, who are very interested in mathematics.  To encourage these students to continue their interest in math and science, the Committee wants to offer an additional recognition for excellence in these STEM subject areas at the 2017 awards presentation. STEM prepared students are in demand in the job market, and encouraging young women to pursue these non-traditional academic paths/careers could provide an economic bridge to help the family out of poverty.  

You hold the keys! This CAA educational support program would not be possible without the generous contributions of donors through Global Giving, and CAA Committee Member volunteers who raise funds locally. Working together, we can continue to make a difference here in San Ramon, Costa Rica, one student at a time.   

Maryeth with CAA Member Linda D.
Maryeth with CAA Member Linda D.
CAA Awards_July 2016 Challenge_Water Resourcs
CAA Awards_July 2016 Challenge_Water Resourcs
CAA Scholarship Students, Second Term 2016
CAA Scholarship Students, Second Term 2016
Program Intern FRR Leading Challenge Session
Program Intern FRR Leading Challenge Session
 
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