We have to announce (although late) that we have shut down the English immersion pre-school and other English education activities that took place in the house on the street 12 de Julio in Puerto Plata. We still have the scholarship program with three students on scholarship. We created this English immersion education program in order to more practically engage foreign volunteers and also to respond to the requests of the general Puerto Plata community who had asked for English lessons from native English speakers throughout the years. The decision to shut down was based on the lack of local registrations and the high costs of the building we were renting. If we have the opportunity to start this program up again in the future, we will do so in a different part of town with a different approach, and building on top of relationships we have formed and lessons learned throughout this effort. Thank you to those of you who have sponsored a camper, a pre-school student, volunteered, or taught. It has been a blast and hopefully we can start it up again someday! In the meantime, we'll continue with the scholarships.
Thank you for your support!
We just finished a week of winter English immersion camp that began Monday, December 31st. Five volunteers led 12 campers in a week of English immersion activities. This is the first time we have done a camp during winter break, whereas we normally do it during summer break, and it was nice to get the kids together to review in the middle of the year. We did not advertise this camp to the general public and receive registrations, as we have in the summer, mainly because we are short handed on long term volunteers to help with this, but we did camp with a group of our sponsored campers.
This was really a time where kids could review some vocab - basic pronouns and verbs as well as parts of the body, places, foods, emotions, and one other set of words I am forgetting... It was also a time to address behavior problems. These sponsored kids are all public school kids who are lower class and their behavior is not quite up to par in these group settings. On the last day of camp, we only allowed four campers to come because the behavior of the rest of the campers was so apalling the day before. There was a fight between two campers early on in camp and then we realized at closing circle that something just had to change. It took a good 10 or 15 minutes just to get the campers to sit and listen. So we reviewed what we had learned that day, as we always do at closing circle, but then let them know who could and could not return the next day, for the last day of camp. We let each one know what he or she had done that was not acceptable at camp, or in society in general. We let them know that we did this because we care about them and this is reality. If you can't listen and can't respect others then you will not likely have a productive life or career.
The group of counselors were wonderful! The songs counselors even wrote a song, complete with a dance, that they taught the kids. It goes...
Esperanza, Esperanza, Esperanza is my school.
Catalina is so cool.
I sing, I read, I like to play.
I learn English every day.
Break it down, break it down
Then, with everyone in a circle, the counselors called out different types of dance and campers then jumped in the center to dance. Merengue! Bachata! Salsa! Reggaeton! Kompa! Hip Hop!
We look forward to six weeks of camp this summer. Our three students on scholarship this year are doing well and we wait to receive their first semester grades. We have been doing an English club on Thursday afternoons from 2-4pm to keep the English going for this age group (5-14) throughout the year as well. Lastly, for the English immersion pre-school, we finished the semester with three students. Six more parents have said that they will register their children this month, so we hope that they follow through!
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!
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