At the end of April 2007, my brother Kyle left to become a member of the Peace Corp in Nicaragua. He was assigned to a school in La Virgen on the western bank of Lake Nicaragua as an English program coordinator. English, as a second language, is a necessity for those Nicaraguans hoping for jobs in the tourism field, which is growing quickly and is soon to surpass the agricultural industry.
As one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, the tourism industry is essential to the country's economy, which means the English language is essential as well.
Being a teacher myself, I was proud of Kyle, and knew he was taking on a challenge that most Americans wouldn't think twice about.
However, I never fully understood what he was doing until I had the opportunity to visit him in Nicaragua. Growing up in a middle class family in Ohio, I didn't see poverty or at least not in the way I saw it in Nicaragua. I was taken aback by what I had seen.
Can you imagine having to use a latrine every day? Filling a bucket of water from a well to bathe? Having to hand wash your clothes and dishes without running water? Walking down the street and having chickens, horses, cows, and pigs roaming loose? Living in a small home with 10 other people?
Teaching is a challenge in our country, but to implement an English program in a school with very limited resources is all but impossible. I realize now that I take for granted many of the resources provided to me by my school. Outdated textbooks, two English dictionaries, and a pathetically small library of chapter books might be the best resources Kyle and his teaching counterpart, Adonis, have. And on top of very limited resources, they have a class size of 50 students!
We have already implemented a letter exchange between my class and Kyle's with hopes that Kyle's students gain experience with the English language. We also hope that my students gain an appreciation for what they have as well as an interest in cultures outside their own.
However, we (my students & I) feel the need to do more for these children and their dedicated teacher, Adonis. We are inspired to raise funds that will provide supplies for this overcrowded, under funded English program.
One US nickel is equal to almost one Nicaraguan Cordoba (0.9) so even a small donation will enable the school in La Virgen to purchase much needed supplies. In just 3 days my class has saved $57, and they are still motivated to keep on saving! I am so impressed with these 25 10 and 11 year olds. It's amazing how compassionate children can be!
I hope that you are able to take a step back and realize how lucky you are to have things like indoor plumbing, reliable electricity, access to quality education for yourself and/or your children.
Please know that we are fortunate in this country- including those of us who live paycheck to paycheck- and have more than most of the people in Nicaragua even think about having!