Apply to Join

Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey

by Yspaniola Incorporated
Play Video
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Literacy for Dominican-Haitian Youth in the Batey
Lumene and her four children
Lumene and her four children

When the COVID-19 crisis began, and public schools across the Dominican Republic closed, Yspaniola too had to close the doors to our Preschool and Learning Center, for what has turned out to be the remainder of the school year. We are devastated that our students have missed out on vital schooling during these months, however, the health of our students and their families had to take priority.

As an Yspaniola supporter, you probably know that Yspaniola runs a Summer Camp for all our students each June, along with Experiential and Service-Learning Trips and Summer Internships. These offer participants from the United States and elsewhere to come and experience life in Batey Libertad and learn about the challenges that face this vibrant community of Dominicans, Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent. Our trips, summer camp and internships also provide Yspaniola with vital funds which cover the core costs and overheads of running our programs all year round.

Due to the drastic drop in income from these activities due to COVID-19, it has been thanks to the generosity of our donors, including those of you who give through the GlobalGiving platform, that we have been able to cover the basic costs of maintaining Yspaniola’s infrastructure and keep as many Yspaniola employees (teachers, learning assistants and support staff) on payroll as possible throughout this crisis.

The closure of the public school and Yspaniola’s Learning Center to prevent the spread of the illness had adverse effects for many families locally, because children were no longer receiving free meals at school or healthy snacks in Yspaniola’s food program. Alleviating hunger for children and families during this crisis became a vital immediate need.

At Yspaniola, we recognized this urgent need and decided to embrace the opportunity to extend our work deeper into the community. Our Operations Director, Julio Louis, who is from the batey, began delivering food support to families in the form of tickets that can be exchanged for goods in the batey's local “colmados” (family-run businesses where most residents buy their daily food supplies).

So far, we have supported 113 families with an average of two children per household, including 19 single parent families. Forty-three of these families have four or more children.

Below, local Mom Lumene (pictured) explains how this support has been helpful for her family. Lumene has four children, and they usually all study in Yspaniola's center.

What has your experience of the pandemic been so far?

"When the coronavirus started, I heard it on television. I thought it was something that happened very far from here and would not reach the country. I was not worried. But when my daughters were no longer going to class, they told me that the teachers said that they will continue the classes online because they wanted to protect the entire school. I started to worry. I understood better when the center also closed and Julio gave me an information leaflet with images of how to protect ourselves from the disease."

How has the economic situation affected you?

"My husband works in agriculture collecting pigeon peas. I shell the peas before they are sold. What has affected us most financially is having the children here at home all day. Before, I could go out to help my husband and we earned more while the children were at school and then went to [Yspaniola's] center. Also, the children also ate at school and then got a snack at the center. That was a great help that we don't have right now. Yspaniola's tickets enabled us to make a food purchase for the family that lasted a few days and gave us time to save. I hope that everything goes well so that my children can return to study, especially in the center where I see that they are learning more."

At Yspaniola, we are so thankful to all of our GlobalGiving donors for your continued support during these difficult times. Your support has helped ensure that we will be able to invite students back to learn and grow with us after the summer vacation, as soon as it becomes safe to do so. And, we hope that you may consider coming to visit us, once it is safe to do so again! :)

Colmado owner, Fernando, in his community store
Colmado owner, Fernando, in his community store
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Kinder students form a line to enter the classroom
Kinder students form a line to enter the classroom

“Buenos días!”: Setting Students up for Success

The clock strikes 9:00am on Monday, and children rush in to our Kinder class for four-year-olds, smiles spread wide across their faces. Our littlest learners start the day off with a snack, because a full stomach means a brain ready to learn! There is a chorus of “buenos días” (good morning), followed by joyful singing of the welcome song. Afterwards, the children review the date, the days of the week and months of the year, where they live, the weather and count how many children are present today.

Since our Kinder class began in September 2018, children are beginning their first year in public school with increased knowledge, better behavior and improved classroom etiquette. Our recent evaluations show that our students have improved on average 9 points between October 2019 and February 2020. One student began the year with a score of 3.5 out of 30, and now has a score of 19, increasing by 15.5 points!

Our teachers are constantly adapt their classes to the needs of the students.Throughout the morning, the they pay attention to what the students are struggling with, so they can focus more on these areas.   

After a morning full of learning, playing, coloring, and other activities, our kinder students enjoy a recess where they learn to play, share, and improve their motor skills. They also learn to clean up after themselves by putting everything back in their boxes when they are finished. 

When asked what her favorite part of Kinder is, one student responded that she loves to learn the colors. Another responded that he loves to learn about animals.

Early childhood education is proven to aid development in both the short and long term. Short-term benefits include basic cognitive and language skills, increased social competence, and emotional development. Early childhood education is also correlated with “better educational, occupational, and social outcomes for disadvantaged children over the long term.” Our Kinder class provides a foundation for learning that prepares students for public school and beyond. 

We are so thankful to all of our GlobalGiving donors for making it possible to run the Yspaniola Preschool Program - thank you!

 

Recess allows students to engage in creative play
Recess allows students to engage in creative play
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Paulino and Idelove
Paulino and Idelove

Yspaniola utilizes the internationally-recognized Reading A-Z system to track our students’ progress. Once students reach the highest reading level, Z, they are eligible for class 6, a voluntary after-school course that runs twice a week. During class 6, participants discuss the books they are reading and complete work on higher-level literacy topics. They also have the opportunity to serve as mentors to younger children who are struggling with their reading. Two of our class 6 mentors, Paulino and Idelove, have been assisting Yspaniola’s Learning Center for years. Below, they reflect on how this has impacted their lives. Paulino, 17, was born and raised in Batey Libertad with his two brothers and four sisters. “In school, all of my friends knew how to read at least a little in Spanish but not me. The teacher would make us present in class but I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t read or write,” he said. At age seven, Paulino began attending Yspaniola’s Learning Center. Through years of dedicated attendance, he has gained important academic knowledge that will pave the way for a professional career unattainable for many batey youth. “The biggest obstacles in this community [are] that there are lots of young people who have graduated high school and cannot enter a good profession because of a lack of funds or legal identity documents. They try to find work in stores, auto repair shops, or agricultural plants to earn money, get some ID documentation and pay for their studies to become professionals.” “With these skills, I have more options for what I do for work. Learning to read and write in Spanish has changed my life,” he said. Paulino hopes to become a Spanish or social science teacher in the future.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Idelove, 16, was born in Ouanaminthe, Haiti and moved to Batey Libertad as a young child. Idelove only spoke Creole until the age of 5, when her stepfather taught her Spanish. She began attending Yspaniola’s Learning Center in 2009 and rapidly progressed academically. She skipped Yspaniola’s class 4 because she was so advanced and reached the highest reading level quickly. She now tutors a younger peer through our mentoring initiative. “I like being a mentor because I like teaching another person everything that I have learned.” Idelove has many goals for her life, including moving outside the batey, graduating from university, learning many languages, and getting to know more people. “I want to surround myself with people who bring out the best in me and challenge me to be the ideal version of myself.”

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

At the end of June, Yspaniola ran its annual two-week summer camp in Batey Libertad. For local students, camp provides an exciting opportunity to continue learning through dynamic and creative activities. It also allows youth from Batey Libertad to collaborate with international volunteers to design lessons based on their skills and engage in cultural exchange. This year, we focused on four separate themes: art, technology, music and dance, and theater. Students were divided by age and rotated through the different sessions. At the end of camp, each group had extended time with an assigned activity, and they prepared a performance or presentation for the last day.

During theatre, students were exposed to short plays as they watched teachers perform and participated in readers’ theatre. They expressed their creativity as they played charades and painted the backdrop for an imaginary play. The fourth and fifth grade groups designed Facebook pages for a character or famous person. During another session, a classroom assistant led a group reading session in which students were encouraged to think critically and analyze the plot and characters.

Our oldest students (age 13-17) spent the most time in theatre. For their final presentation, they wrote and performed a play. Students started by brainstorming potential themes and decided that they wanted their play to have a moral lesson. They chose to focus on bullying, a theme that is relevant for their age group and allowed them to reflect on their relationships with their peers. In order to accurately depict bullying, they drew from their own experiences and watched an anti-bullying video.

As we continued working on the play, students began to take on different roles. A few students thought up ideas for characters and collectively decided who could best depict them. Some students preferred to write. They crafted clever lines and followed a plotline to ensure that their story would be coherent and entertaining for the audience. One student with strong leadership skills served as the director. She organized actors’ movements and gestures, offered critique, and kept everyone on task. The rest of the students practiced their acting skills and transformed themselves into nerds, popular kids, and teachers. 

Through this project, our oldest students were able to continue practicing their reading and writing skills during summer vacation. They were also encouraged to apply what they’ve learned about story-telling in our programs to a personal project designed to fit their own interests. By selecting an important theme, group members served as role models for younger students; teaching them how to treat their peers through a fun and thought-provoking skit.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Working on letters for International Women's Day
Working on letters for International Women's Day

Hello to all of our Global Giving friends! Here at Yspaniola, we offer literacy classes to students aged four to 17. In addition to our classes, we run a variety of voluntary programs that provide students with extra time to practice their reading and writing skills. One of these is our beloved Reading Hour. This year we expanded Reading Hour to offer two sessions each week that are divided by grade level. On Wednesdays, we open our library to second and third graders, and on Thursdays, we welcome fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.

Reading Hour is led by two of our Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) Fellows and supervised by our local teacher and library coordinator, Mayra. Our PiLA Fellows develop Reading Hour curriculum to reinforce concepts taught in our classes. Each session includes interactive activities such as games, songs, videos, drawing, and writing. After planned activities, students have time to read independently or with the guidance of fellows. We strive to create a positive and welcoming space where youth feel comfortable improving their reading skills and learning about new topics.

Through Reading Hour, we expand on the teachers’ lesson plans while exposing our students to important themes and lessons about the world. We often create lessons based on holidays or important events. Last fall students familiarized themselves with Mexican culture when they read about Frida Kahlo, watched a video about Día de Los Muertos, and colored their own sugar skulls. In February, students made valentines to show their appreciation for their friends and families. We encourage students to take pride in their heritage, so we made valentines in both Spanish and Creole. Most recently, we celebrated International Women’s Day. With the support of a visiting group from Georgetown, our students wrote letters to the important women in their lives.

Because we have adapted and expanded our Reading Hour this year, we are following a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan to measure the effects of the program. We hope that by implementing concrete practices for tracking participants’ progress, we can ensure that it is as effective as possible. From October 2018 to April 2019, we will monitor assistance rates, number of sessions offered, and reading skill improvement. During May 2019 we will evaluate students’ interest in reading and their increases in reading level (based on our Reading A-Z system). Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated on our progress and see what our students are up to in Reading Hour!

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Yspaniola Incorporated

Location: Jamaica Plain, MA - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Amy Porter
Director of Development
North Haven, CT United States

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.