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Jun 11, 2019

Human Values in and out of the Classroom

Students worked on team building games
Students worked on team building games

Our students are open to making positive changes in their lives, and we want to open a space for them to reflect on their values and their treatment of others. Last week, we held a workshop about honesty, equality, gratitude, respect, and social and environmental responsibility.

We talked about how the best way to practice respect is by not discriminating against others for how they look or their physical condition, nor for the way they think, because we should all have the right to express our ideas.

Many students also mentioned the importance of respecting grandparents, parents, siblings, teachers, fellow students, and elders. For example, Pedro mentioned, “We should respect our parents because they worry about us. In fact, we should respect everything that surrounds us, like the environment.” Oliver also emphasized the importance of staying eco-friendly, “To respect and protect our environment, we need to throw out our garbage responsibly and take good care of our water.”

Beyond environmental responsibility, students had a lot to say about how to be responsible as young people in order to grow and be a better person. Manuel mentioned, “One of my most important responsibilities is finishing my homework and helping my parents and siblings.”

Students also spoke about how to support equality in the home, at school, and wherever they meet up with their friends and peers. In terms of interpersonal life, we discussed how honesty is so important for establishing trust and healthy relationships. We played a game where each student had to pass through a loop of thread, no matter their size, to reflect the importance of equality and working as a team.

Afterwards, each student wrote about the values you they were developing and how to apply them in daily life. Yulissa wrote about valuing positive acts and human rights, noting, “It’s important that everyone has the right to food. We should all have the right to have an education and achieve what is important to each of us.” We are hopeful that our students recognize education as a root of positive growth and look forward to having more discussions about the significance of personal values in and outside the classroom.

Lidia, our youngest student, had a great time
Lidia, our youngest student, had a great time
Chonita lead a discussion on respect and honesty
Chonita lead a discussion on respect and honesty
Teamwork across ages helped us reflect on equality
Teamwork across ages helped us reflect on equality
We spoke a lot about taking care of our planet
We spoke a lot about taking care of our planet

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May 9, 2019

Our Breakfast Club for Middle and High Schoolers

After reading at home, students read together
After reading at home, students read together

Our middle and high school students participated in a new initiative called “Reading Club” this month, in which we try to make reading exciting and relevant to our older students as there is a wide range of reading level and age in our program.

Loúrdes, José Miguel and Yulissa read a chapter of His Last Trip and came in with comments to discuss the book over breakfast with our program coordinator and teacher, Chonita. The story was a modern day fable about addiction and generational class in which a rebellious young man stops studying and playing sports once he begins experimenting with drugs and ends up stealing from his father, who kicks him out of the house. While living on the street, he falls deeper into drug addiction yet comes to miss and appreciate all his parents had given him.

Given the drama and morals of this story, our students had plenty of reactions. Some of the lessons they took away were:

-It’s important to have a trusting relationship with your parents, and you want to respect them so that they can trust you

-Lying and robbing will only worsen your life

-Trying to be a good son or daughter is a significant lesson to learn for young people and will help us in the long run

-It helped us remember to appreciate what our parents do for us

 

Beyond the comments each student brought in to Reading Club, they also had the opportunity to read their favorite parts of the story alongside their friends, for a better understanding and more fluid reading. Furthermore, as we live in a conservative, indigenous area, confronting the prevalent yet hidden and shamed problem of addiction in our community through fictional novels like His Last Trip is a healthy way to process and prevent alcohol and drug abuse.

As most people where we live don’t make a habit of reading, it’s very important that our students pick up the practice and learn to love books and expand their knowledge. Ensuring that reading is compelling for young people can not only make a difference for our students but also can combat high levels of illiteracy in our community.

In order to keep up with reading, we need a variety of books as books are too expensive for parents here. As a result, a lot of the work we do is share necessary materials with our students so that they develop better study habits and a love of reading.

We are thankful to our donors for supporting us in providing books. What are some of your favorites, and what are some of your recommendations?

Our students discussed over breakfast
Our students discussed over breakfast
"His Last Trip" was a dramatic read for teens
"His Last Trip" was a dramatic read for teens

Links:

Apr 5, 2019

Learning to Read, Reading to Learn

Our younger students read "A Head Full of Colors"
Our younger students read "A Head Full of Colors"

Last week, Mano a Mano’s primary school students had their first reading workshop of 2019. We do these activities because most students in our community do not read in their households. Unfortunately, the mere act of reading a story before bed with your parents would be a luxury here in Santiago Atitlán. This is largely due to a lack of resources for books at home along with the low literacy rates among older generations. In this activity, we wanted to develop students’ interest in reading as we believe that reading is a wonderful source of knowledge that opens many doors for more opportunities. We hope that our students can learn about topics that interest them and expand their critical and analytical abilities through reading.

Our younger students read the story “A Head Full of Colors” about a very envious little boy whose emotions are expressed through the colors of his hair. As many of the younger students are beginners in reading, our program coordinator, Chonita, added images alongside the text to ensure that everyone understood while practicing reading together. Chonita then lead a discussion about empathizing with the characters you come across in books with the hopes that each student could understand the joy of identifying with a text.

By the end of the story, the envious boy ends up bald, but he makes his bald head into a canvas for painting colors, deciding to do away with jealousy and channel his emotions into creativity. After discussing the story as a group, each student drew their own reaction. We were very proud of our youngest student, Damariz, who barely knows how to read but was very excited and artistic about reflecting on the story through drawing. An older student, Diego, also impressed us with his imagination when drawing a head full of colors and emotion.

In spite of the positive response to this reading workshop, we can tell that many of our students need more motivation and interest to read on their own. The lack of opportunities for developing a love of reading in our community is why we need to keep supporting this academic space for young students.





The story's images made it accessible to beginners
The story's images made it accessible to beginners
The students learned to empathize with characters
The students learned to empathize with characters
We drew emotions like the jealous boy in the story
We drew emotions like the jealous boy in the story
Our students wowed us with their creativity!
Our students wowed us with their creativity!
We are looking forward to more literacy workshops!
We are looking forward to more literacy workshops!

Links:

 
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