Thursday, September 8, 2016

Volunteering in Granada

Volunteering abroad is much easier than one would think. Workload aside for a moment, volunteers bridge gaps that governments and non profits can't seem to fill, due to lack of finances. You can find out about volunteer groups through your network of friends, schools etc. However, another great way to find out about volunteer opportunities is through social media. Contacting various expat groups can help guide you in the direction that you are searching. Of course, do the homework before going to make sure you are properly matched prior to leaving and of course arrive with an open mind.
   Personally, I have decided to volunteer about 15 hours a week at the school where my kids attend. A little more than 1/3 of the students at the school are scholarship students and live in varying degrees of poverty. We are not talking, kind of or sort of poverty. We are talking no electricity or running water, sleeping on an earthen floor, and never having enough food to go around poverty. Before you think the kids are miserable, allow me to reassure you that they are some of the most appreciative and happy children you will come across. Hearing their giggles, and seeing those bright eyes look back at me while I teach English, technology or math is such a wonderful reward.
   Another great idea, especially if you are traveling with children to third world countries, is bring unwanted games, toys or books along with you, so you can donate them abroad. Books, especially, are quite expensive and also difficult to find. Oddly enough, English edition children's books are more readily available than Spanish edition children's books, in Granada. A wonderful idea for anyone traveling to Latin America would be to stop by a local Goodwill or thrift store prior to leaving the US and pick up some used Spanish books for cheap. You would make a school, an orphanage or a library very happy with those used books and it would have an added benefit of teaching your children a beautiful lesson about the power of giving.  

Music and dance are important aspects of the curriculum in much of Latin America.

Students of the week being recognized, including my happy daughter Sierra.

Our school encourages student project demonstrations.

Zoe was very thirsty in class, enjoying the drops of melting ice water.

The girls "Circled the wagons" when one of their own felt ill. Ruth offered moral support, Anais held a cool compress and Zoe applied an ice cold water bottle to Angie's neck. Such images are quite normal during class and instill concepts of caring while learning. These images are what make a child's experience abroad so unique and why we fully encourage traveling with your children while they are still young.


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