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Jul 1, 2020

COVID-19 and an Earthquake Shook our World

Working at home during quarantine
Working at home during quarantine

Hello dear readers! 

My name is Adriana Paredes. I am an English teacher, from central Mexico, currently working at Ananda Learning Center. In these moments of uncertainty, with no chance for planning worldwide, adaptability can become our best friend. COVID has come to remind us that we are not in charge, to slow down and to rethink our whole existence. And of course education is part of that change. Concerning our school, there are two aspects I would like to share with you: how we have been dealing with COVID and an earthquake that took place in Oaxaca very recently. 

Despite the fact that COVID has not reached us here in this small village in the mountains, we found ourselves in need of suspending our school work for reasons of prevention and global solidarity. Given this unexpected situation, we were meticulously searching for the best option to continue accompanying our children from home until the end of the school year. Contrary to many schools, in the context in which we live, it is not possible to continue our school program through zoom or any other online platforms due to the fact that not all of our community has access to internet. For that reason, the best solution we found to address this problem was designing printed workbooks. 

These workbooks were designed by the teachers, having a question in mind: how to make learning happen from daily life experiences. The focus shifted from learning content to sharing with family, learning at home, making the best of their time with their families,  and communication with classmates and teachers through letters and sharing of recipes and dolls with other children.

And if COVID was not enough, another unexpected event occurred recently, a 7.4 Earthquake hit the region. That morning all the teachers were gathered at the school organizing materials to give away to the children. We were sitting down in a classroom located on the second floor when everything started moving, at first we thought it was just a small shake because we are used to having those frequently, but it was not. It was so strong, trying to make our way out of the classroom was a difficult task. We stood in front of the school; the building looked like it was going to collapse. The trees were moving. I could  see my house dancing in the distance. A thought came to my head, “this is the end, this is it.” We were all holding hands, hopeful that the shaking would be over soon. It suddenly stopped. We went into the classroom to pick up our personal belongings; the place was a mess, books and Montessori materials scattered all around the floor, broken pots and more uncertainty. Fortunately in our village, the earthquake did not destroy buildings.  A neighboring village had more extreme damage, fallen walls and broken homes. Many of us have come together to raise money as well as visit them to support in this time of crisis. I believe that all these events are a wakeup call to change, to resilience, to new beginnings. 

It has been difficult thus far financially for the school. Most of the families are unable to pay tuition due to the many impacts and stresses during coronavirus. The teachers continue to receive full salary. We have continued working hard on several levels. And now, Ananda has to repair the damages after the earthquake. We are grateful for all we have learned the past several months.  

Thank you for your continued support. Through education, we plant seeds for a brighter future.  

Working at home during quarantine
Working at home during quarantine
Working at home during quarantine
Working at home during quarantine
After the earthquake
After the earthquake
After the earthquake
After the earthquake
It will take time to fix the earthquake damage
It will take time to fix the earthquake damage
A lot of picking up to do
A lot of picking up to do
My earth cabin on the school property needs repair
My earth cabin on the school property needs repair
Mar 2, 2020

Developing Trust and Nourishing Respect

It’s been a fruitful 2020 thus far! Thanks to your support, we were able to continue creating necessary educational materials in the elementary school as well as build more outdoor recreational equipment.  Research shows that outdoor play gives kids many valuable benefits, including the development of physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills. You should have seen the children’s faces when they saw the spaces, indoors and out. We hope you can come someday and see for yourself. The children (and all of us) are so grateful.  

One teacher said, “It has been an incredible few months where the children have deepened their level of trust, through their actions and words with one another as well as with us, their teachers. One child told me he wasn’t feeling good. He was not sure why and a little while later, he told me he missed his father.” His father works many months a year in the US which is an additional challenge amongst others that the children in this area face.

Another teacher, Olga, shares about the preschool, ”The children have been improving in their communication, showing more respect for one another, improving their friendships. When there is a conflict, we go to the peace corner and talk about our emotions. I’ve witnessed a lot of beautiful, open conversations as well as self reflection. Olga, a local, Zapotec teacher, is hoping to be able to take an educational training course to further her education. We are hoping to continue turning dreams into reality.

The children have been excelling emotionally as well as academically. All of the children in their last year of preschool have learned to read and write effortlessly and fluently through hands on materials and their teachers’ support. One parent stated, “I am so grateful for the development I’ve seen in my child, in his treatment of his siblings, how he talks to me, his reading and writing skills.  When he hears visitors speaking English, he understands some, which makes me very excited.”

90% of our students receive total or partial scholarship and several are still seeking monthly sponsorship.  

Thus far we have raised $6,777 of our $15,000 goal from 67 Donors!!! 

Thank you again for being a part of this manifesting dream!  

Ananda Learning Center 

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¡Esta siendo un 2020 muy fructífero! Gracias a su apoyo, pudimos continuar creando los materiales educativos necesarios en la escuela primaria, así como construir más equipos recreativos al aire libre. La investigación muestra que el juego al aire libre brinda a los niños muchos beneficios valiosos, incluido el desarrollo de habilidades físicas, emocionales, sociales y cognitivas. Deberías haber visto las caras de los niños cuando vieron los espacios, adentro y afuera. Esperamos que puedas venir algún día y verlo por ti mismo. Los niños (y todos nosotros) estamos muy agradecidos.

Un maestro dijo: “Han sido unos meses increíbles en los que los niños han profundizado su nivel de confianza, a través de sus acciones y palabras entre ellos y con nosotros, sus maestros. Un niño me dijo que no se sentía bien. No estaba seguro de por qué y poco después me dijo que extrañaba a su padre ". Su padre trabaja muchos meses al año en los Estados Unidos, lo cual es un desafío adicional entre otros que enfrentan los niños en esta área.

Otra maestra, Olga, comparte sobre el preescolar: "Los niños han estado mejorando en su comunicación, mostrando más respeto mutuo, mejorando sus amistades. Cuando hay un conflicto, vamos al rincón de la paz y hablamos de nuestras emociones. He sido testigo de muchas conversaciones hermosas y abiertas, así como de la autorreflexión. Olga, una maestra local zapoteca, espera poder tomar un curso de capacitación educativa para continuar su educación. Esperamos seguir convirtiendo los sueños en realidad.

Los niños han estado sobresaliendo tanto emocional como académicamente. Todos los niños en su último año de preescolar han aprendido a leer y escribir sin esfuerzo y con fluidez a través de materiales prácticos y el apoyo de sus maestros. Uno de los padres declaró: "Estoy muy agradecido por el desarrollo que he visto en mi hijo, en su trato con sus hermanos, cómo me habla, sus habilidades de lectura y escritura. Cuando escucha a los visitantes hablar inglés, entiende algo, lo que me emociona mucho ”.

El 90% de nuestros estudiantes reciben una beca total o parcial y varios aún buscan patrocinio mensual.

¡Hasta ahora hemos recaudado $ 6,777 de nuestra meta de $ 15,000 de 67 donantes!

¡Gracias de nuevo por ser parte de este sueño manifiesto!

Centro de Aprendizaje de Ananda

Field trip to a neighboring Village
Field trip to a neighboring Village
Nasa visited us!!!!!!!!!! to teach jet propulsion
Nasa visited us!!!!!!!!!! to teach jet propulsion
Celebrating Mexico's Traditions
Celebrating Mexico's Traditions
Neighbor's yard turned into the new sports field
Neighbor's yard turned into the new sports field
Cacao Festival
Cacao Festival
Handmade by a local carpenter!!!
Handmade by a local carpenter!!!
 
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