Meet Volunteer Coordinator Pam!

Meet Pam who is LLI’s Volunteer and Events Coordinator! Pam has been with the LLI team since March and has helped us out by coordinating our 7th Anniversary, bringing in and even taking care of some awesome volunteers!

Pam is from the Bay Area-California, but has spent some time living in Chicago, IL first as a student before entering the working world. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Human Development from the University of Chicago.

image1Get to know how adventurous and fun our Volunteer Coordinator Pam is with this short Q&A below:

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Your experiences before LLI, where you come from, hobbies..etc.

Hi! I’m Pam, from the Bay Area – California, but I spent the 5 years prior to LLI in Chicago. Before LLI, I spent a year working with Chicago Public School Parents towards  Restorative Justice practices and Early Education access in CPS schools. I aIMG_1093lso coached Junior Rowing and had a brief stint as a field researcher studying Primary Care Access for Adults. In my spare time, I enjoy cycling, dog walking, being outside, and finding good coffee.

What made you want to join LLI’s team as the Volunteer and Events Coordinator? What do you look forward to most in the position?

Though I wasn’t looking to work abroad, I immediately applied to this position because it offered me the opportunity to get to know the Huaycan community. While I was working in Chicago, I interacted with so many empowering individuals and communities; by working as the Volunteer Coordinator, I feel as I am given a similar opportunity to work with many empowering people within Huaycan while supporting the work that LLI Volunteers do in the community.

Beyond the many Huaycan-ites I’ve been fortunate to meet, I always look forward to meeting the new incoming volunteers that join us at LLI! It’s been incredible to make new friends from all over while working and living together.

You’ve been in Peru for 4 months, what are you liking best about Peru?

There are so many things I love about Huaycan, it’s hard to name them all! Everyday I look forward to all the familiar faces on Quince, Clase de Baile with Jorge at the gym, long runs on the canchon, and the familiar sounds coming from all the vendors and cobradores. There is a deep place in my heart though for a nice, long combi nap through all the crazy traffic out here. I still have so much time left and hope to see more of this beautiful country!

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Graduation Time.

Graduations are always filled with a strange mix of emotions: excitement, relief, accomplishment, and maybe a bit of uncertainty. These feelings permeated the Teen Center on the evening of July 1st, 2016 when our first graduation ceremony was held for our Intensive English class.

For Jhonny, Kelly, Kevin, Nilver, and Pedro, it was their night. Our honoraries began the night as they would any other Friday evening, in English class. Students reflected on their time in the English program by writing letters filled with advice and encouragement to the future English students. After this brief class, the graduation began. The audience was composed of students, volunteers, friends, parents, siblings, and, of course, our graduates.

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Linda, our Teen Center Manager, kicked of the ceremony by eloquently expressing how proud we here at LLI — and everyone, for that matter — are of our graduates. The students’ current teacher, Elijah, addressed the graduates, with the help of the evening’s translator, Rosa, our Program Development Intern, as well as presented them with their certificates and gifts. These gifts included sDSC_2471.JPGome goodies they would be using for the university and job interviews. The gifts were also accompanied by letters collected from current and former volunteers that shared words of wisdom for the future. As the night came to a close, our graduates began to see that this was not an end, but just a new beginning, as they transition from student to leaders, perhaps being volunteers in our organization.

Graduation is a funny thing — lots of mixed emotions. As a student, there is excitement and a strong sense of accomplishment, while at the same time, there is a bit of uncertainty of what is to come next. For teachers, there is a sense of relief, of course, in that the students have “made it,” in a way, yet at the same time, one cannot help but be solemn, as who knows when we will all see each other again.

Are you hearing Wiz Khalifa’s “See you Again” in your head right now? Coincidentally, two students in our new Intensive English class were playing that song at the end of the graduation. Before we know it, those students will be graduating. If you’re interested in helping these students accomplish their goals in our English Program, learn more about volunteering with LLI here and join our team!

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Get to Know Olivia.

Olivia joined LLI’s team as the English Program Manager in May of this year.  She’s done a great job taking the reigns from our previous manager, Keeley, and has kept the positive momentum for the program going!

Olivia joins our team from suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but prior to LLI, she spent time teaching at the U.S./Mexican border in Texas and in Quito, Ecuador. She has a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Triple Literacy Studies with an emphasis in English as a Second Language (ESL) at the University of Texas in Arlington. Needless to say, she’s a great asset to LLI.

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She’s a pretty amazing person and is worth getting to know… so check it out the Q&A below:

Q: How did your prior experiences in Texas and Ecuador contribute to your desire to work in education? What did you learn from those experiences about yourself as a teacher?
A: Before arriving to Peru, I worked as a high school teacher in the United States. I student taught in the inner city in Harrisburg, PA, which ignited in me a fire to ensure that every child receives a quality education. This passion brought me to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where I discovered an entirely different part of the USA that nobody could quite understand unless they lived, worked, and interacted with the people there. As difficult as it was to leave my students on the border, I knew that I needed a better grasp on the Spanish language if I wanted to make a difference in the lives of Spanish-speakers in my country. A near-majority in the US, Spanish-speakers have the ability to change the world due to their bilingualism, yet this potential is limited due to inequalities in education. I moved to Ecuador to get my TESOL certification after leaving the border, and working with students in Ecuador, I realized even more that I didn’t know about serving all demographics of students. I suppose, overall, I am learning that I still have a lot to learn. To me, this understanding is incredibly encouraging, because as a teacher, I never want to believe that I know it all and have every answer. If that is the case, then I will have forgotten that being a teacher goes hand-in-hand with being a life-long learner. I never want my students to stop learning, so why should I? 
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Olivia working at the “English Wheel” station at LLI’s recent 7th anniversary
Q: At LLI, your the English Program Manager. What do you look forward to most in the position?
Well, just working with people who possess the passion of teaching is appealing to me. Educators are a funny group of people, and I have found that the longer one is in this field, the harder it is to find people still committed to closing achievement gaps and providing a quality education for every child. How terrifying is that – a teacher who has lost his/her love of the job?! With this position, I will be meeting people new to teaching, but who are voluntarily taking on the challenge. These are young people who are choosing to travel to Peru and devote all of their energy to education. You can’t get more of a passion toward teaching than that! I am looking forward to capitalizing on that energy and hope, trying to support them in anyway I can so that they don’t lose that spark of optimism. They’re an inspiration! 
Q: What are some aspects of Peru you’ve been enjoying thus far?
The country is absolutely beautiful. I’m enjoying simply sitting in a bus and gazing out the window, to be honest. But, I am also loving the relationships I am building with people in Peru. Similar to Ecuadorians, I find that Peruvians are so quick to ask me questions about my life and help me practice my Spanish. This kind of interaction with people never ceases to amaze me, and I consider myself lucky to get the chance to interact with people from all walks of life. Plus, with my limited Spanish speaking abilities, yet strong listening skills, I am hearing some unbelievable stories from people who lead incredible lives.  
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Teacher Olivia with her English B class

Talent + Teens = LLI’s Teen Center

Just last week, LLI hosted its first ever Teen Talent Showcase!  Eight participants of the Teen Center displayed their talents in front of 20 other peers and volunteers. Their talents consisted of playing the guitar, the zampoña, reciting their own poem, dancing, singing, and writing in two different languages at the same time. At intermission the teens joined in with the volunteers dancing the Macarena and the Chicken Dance. The night closed with a rap battle between several teens. It was a night filled of laughter, talent, and a lot of fun!

It’s sure to be repeated–we’re thinking an annual or bi-annual event…!

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Check out the list of performers below, plus some photos from the event!

Performers:
Sergio- Guitar
Giuliana- Poem
Diego- Playing the zampoña (pan flute)
Kevin- Writing in two languages at the same time
Naydu- Dance
Rildo- Sing and guitar
Judith- Sing and guitar
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Rosa’s Monthly Update-June!

Chess Program Update!!!

LLI offers about 30 students from our Kids’ Center chess classes three times a week. That’s 12 classes a month, where our students are putting their minds to work!
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The Chess Program will soon be ready for a new set of kids to begin our improved Module 1 class, for beginners to the game. The new Module 1 chess curriculum includes lesson plans, fun fill-in-the-blank exams, and kid-friendly handouts. It will get our LLI students to improve note-taking, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. The Chess Program currently has two modules of chess for beginners and those advanced in the game, and we will be working on a module 3, which is coming soon.
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We want to give a huge shout out to Nate Palmer for all his hard work teaching our Module 1 chess classes for the month of June!
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Interested in joining us? Learn more about volunteering with LLI here and join our team!

Our Homestay Program is here!!!

LLI is happy to announce the launch of our Homestay Program!

Through our program, volunteers choose to stay with local Huaycan Families nearby our Program Centers and Volunteer House. Our Homestay Program allow volunteers to integrate themselves in the community that LLI serves. Volunteers will share breakfast and dinner meals with the family, but still catch all the fun in the Volunteers house during our family lunch times.

For the past month, our volunteers Lindsay and Nate Palmer lived with Tito and his family just blocks away from our Volunteer House. Check out what they have to say about it!

Staying with our homestay family has been an incredibly enriching experience.  It has provided us with extra insight into local culture, family and traditions, and has given us ample opportunities to practice our Spanish as well!

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If you’re interested in participating in our Homestay Program as a volunteer, contact Pam at vec@lightandleadership.org

Meet the LLI Award Winners!

At every anniversary celebration, LLI likes to recognize outstanding LLI participants ages 7-17 who have demonstrated leadership and talent within a specific area. We also highlight one participant from each program (Kids’ Center & Teen Center) as “Participant of the Year” who just seem to be outstanding in every area and show amazing dedication to the programs.

Check out our list of 7th Anniversary winners and congrats to ALL LLI participants for a great year!

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Kids’ Center Participant of the Year:

Maycol (pictured above)

Teen Center Participant of the Year:

Naydu

LLI participants ages 7-12 years old

Outstanding Math Participant:mili

Aracelly (V), Belinda (pictured right), Carlos (E) & Mili

Outstanding Art Participant:

Zumiko & Wilmer

Outstanding Sportsmanship:

Jarumi & Maryori

 

Outstanding English Participant:

Ximena, Maria Fernanda, Mailee, Henry

Outstanding Chess Participant:

Joseph

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Anderson, Angelo (pictured), Aniela, Josue & Mariel

 

LLI Participants 13-17 years old

Outstanding English Participant:

Jhonny & Judith

Outstanding Leadership Program Participant:

Kevin & Miguel

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¡Felicidades a todos!

Renewable Energy @ the Teen Center!

This past Saturday, seven industrial engineering students teamed up with the Teen Center to give a special talk on renewable energy to our teen participants. The university students joined us from the Universidad Cesar Vallejo in Ate, whose campus is found in the same district of Lima as Huaycán.

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Here’s what our teen participants had to say:

Naydú: “Aprendí sobre los varios tipos de energía y que es muy importante para ahorrar energía y no agota nuestras fuentes de energía más importantes como el petróleo y salvar al medio ambiente.” / “I learned about the different types of energy and that it’s very important to save energy and not to exhaust our most important energy sources like petroleum to save our planet.”

Kevin: “Aprendí mucho sobre la energía renovable y sus clases, la definición de la ingeniería industrial y en que se basa.” / “I learned a lot about renewable energy and its classes, the definition of industrial engineering and what it’s about.”

Considering many of LLI teens want to seek out higher educational opportunities in engineering, this presentation was very useful! Thank you/Gracias!13410521_1290652974280362_1808342392_o

7 Ways LLI is Up to Some Really Good Stuff.

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On the eve of LLI’s Seventh Anniversary of Education Programs in Huaycán, we thought we’d reflect a bit on what we’ve accomplished together–donors and supporters in the U.S. and across the world, volunteers both international and local, all combined with some good old fashioned blood, sweat and tears. Check it out:

#1 On a macro level, LLI targets the nation’s biggest need: quality education.

Education, from day 1, has always been our focus. Our programs were created and are maintained utilizing community/parent feedback and test scores, resulting in great programs like reading, science and math, which are the biggest areas of need within the Peruvian education system. Since 2009, we’ve offered over 12,000 classes in Huaycán.

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Homework hour is just one of the many programs offered, a result of feedback from parents asking for more homework support.

#2 We value cross-cultural relationships among volunteers and the community, but we see the big picture.

Our volunteer program provides an amazing opportunity for valuable volunteer placements, of which provides an added cultural component to our classrooms. Yet, we know it is not about the volunteers. We are serious about providing a plethora of pre-arrival reading materials about Huaycán, working with volunteers to manage real expectations concerning volunteering, and providing a space to discuss issues in development (monthly civic reflection discussions). We also have a pretty sweet (and by sweet, we mean ethical) policy on social media, which protects our participants.

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No words can describe how much we love our staff. Here’s Queta (pictured) at last year’s anniversary. She shows no fear.

#3 LLI is serious about investment in Huaycán. 

Just one result of this investment is the employment of five Huaycán locals in our education and volunteer programs. Our family, Oscar, Tito, Dina and Queta, have been with us for years, and we were happy to have Andrea join our team this year. Our focus is on creation of jobs for Huaycán locals, not removal of them.

#4 Our English program is top-notch.

The English Program is the number 1 sought after program by parents in Huaycán. Thanks to ESL and education professionals who have come through our doors as volunteers, students ages 7-17 gain access to native speakers in and outside the classroom with a steady and clear curriculum. We currently offer 19 English classes each week. 

#5 Teens get the space they need. Literally.

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A few of our “regulars” hanging out with volunteer Sarah.

The Teen Center provides a space unlike any other in the Huaycán community. This year, we’ve seen an average daily attendance of 19 teens in our center per day, providing a safe space away from peer pressure and difficult family situations, not to mention a quiet space for homework. What can we say, the place is cool…

#6 The Huaywasi artisan program is… wait for it… AMAZING!

Our artisan program supports six talented and passionate artisans, providing a sustainable approach to women’s empowerment. The sales of Huaywasi products directly supports not only the artisans themselves, but women’s education in Huaycán. This contributes to making two educational workshops per week possible for our women’s program participants. And thanks to the artisans’ ambitions, Huaywasi will only continue to grow as we move forward in 2016!

#7 And the seventh way… the fact that this list could be 100 ways long is our #7.

The truth is, LLI does a lot. We didn’t even get to talk about our reading program, which makes over 1,500 books available to kids and teens. Or the teen leadership program, which just launched this year… Or the financial education, music or self esteem workshops, offered by dedicated local volunteers… or the coding workshops… the math homework help program…or the creative juices that are produced by the art program 5x a week…  OK we hope you get it:)

If you’re liking what you just read… help us continue the work. Any donation, big or small, is appreciated by LLI’s students, staff and families. Thank you!

Donate Here. 

Meet Sarah, LLI English Teacher!

Sarah, a recent Primary Education graduate from Kutztown University in the U.S., joined us back in January of this year as one of our long term English teachers. She was recommended by a two-time Art teacher volunteer, Anna, to check out LLI after chatting with her about her experience and seeing photos of Huaycan and the programs.

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Her original plan was to volunteer with LLI from January through June, but she recently decided to extend her stay by two additional months, explaining, “I could not imagine leaving in two weeks. I just felt like I still had more work to do here and did not want to leave all of my students yet. My purpose wasn’t fulfilled yet.”

With her background in education, she is an excellent addition to LLI’s team and work within our English program. Plus, her personality, as she will tell you herself, is pretty out of this world:) Sarah teaches four classes a week, which range in frequency from once a week to meeting three times a week.

I enjoy seeing the excitement on my students’ faces when something clicks, it’s such an awesome feeling. I love all of my classes because I feel like I personally connect with them in many different ways.

She also helps out very regularly at the teen center, which has allowed her to cross language barriers with teens–allowing them to get to know her through English, and her practicing Spanish. IMG_5532

As I teach a lot of the students, I have built friendships beyond the classroom. I enjoy talking to the teens because they are wonderful and I feel like I can relate to them.

We’re lucky at LLI to have Sarah and so many of our very talented and gracious volunteers. Thank you, Sarah, and we look forward to the next two months!

Interested in joining us? Learn more about volunteering with LLI here and join our team!