LLI Hosts Community Forum

The Light and Leadership Initiative (LLI) hosted its second community forum this past Saturday! We were excited to see 28 people join us (in addition to international volunteers) from the community–participants ranged from current teen students, parents of students in our children and teen programs, women’s program participants, current and former local volunteers, among others. It was a great turnout and exciting to see the level of interest on behalf of our teen students.

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So, what is a community forum exactly? The goal is to have a space for an open dialogue between the organization (LLI) and community members–allowing both parties to ask questions, learn more about each other and on LLI’s behalf, become more financially transparent. At this past community forum, we discussed ways LLI could better communicate with schools and the wider community. We also discussed the importance of English vs other subjects, like math or guitar–is there a reason we should be emphasizing one over the other?

Moving forward, LLI will take the feedback we received and utilize it to improve our programs! We’re excited to see what changes we can bring about to better serve Huaycán.


8 Reasons Why This Anniversary Was Space-tacular.

On Sunday, 113 kids and teens showed up to participate in our annual anniversary celebration for Light and Leadership, in addition to numerous parents, women’s program participants, artisans, local & international volunteers and LLI neighbors.

This anniversary celebration had so much going for it–and we like to think it’s a direct reflection of where we are and where we’re headed as an organization:

  1. The anniversary was Space Themed. Yeah. It was awesome. Even more awesome was that the t-shirt design was created by our very own teen participant Bryan. Check it out.FB-8thAnniversary
  2. This anniversary was entirely funded by friends and family of our current international volunteer team. That means, every t-shirt, every sticker, every piece of cake that kids shoved in their mouth out of pure excitement was made possible due to generous people we all surround ourselves with. That’s incredible. Thank you.
  3. We had the most teen volunteer support we’ve ever had.  Our teen center has been going strong since opening it’s doors in 2014, but this past event truly showed our teens are ready to step up and serve their community. Considering all the anniversary prep nights held weeks before the event at the teen center and then showing up (on time!) at the actual event, our teen participants blew us away.DSC_1812
  4. Our coordination team was dynamite. Spanning countries like the U.S., Canada and Peru, our coordination team was not only international, but they were serious about making this event incredible–and super fun. These smart and talented women could have held their coordination meetings in Spanish, English or French, you know? We’ll just let you guess which one…
  5. The photo booth was just too great. Thanks to donations from our Amazon Wishlist, we had a fun set of props (space themed of course) for kids to choose from and have a blast. DSC_1565
  6. Our women’s program is growing and is getting recognized. Not only did this anniversary boast its own “women’s program section” where women could help put together posters for their education programs to be used as signage, but they also could relax and get their nails painted by some pretty great teens. Plus four women this year won special awards within the program (see #8 for more info!)
  7. Olaf came to visit. One of our local volunteers jumped in an Olaf suit near the end of the anniversary for some pretty great photo opts. Check him out below. Oh, you didn’t know snowmen hang out in space sometimes? Well, neither did we 😉DSC_1787 (1)
  8. The Awards, oh the Awards! As always, LLI recognized some of our most stellar and outstanding participants. Each winner received a certificate and a special prize. Check out the full list below:

Outstanding Participants, Children’s Programs:

English: Jhosman, Science: Mailee, Math: Fiorella, Homework Hour: Esmeralda N., Chess: Maycol, Biblioteca: Belinda, Sports/Yoga: Briggithe, Art: Jeremy H., Typing: Alessandra, Coding: Erick

Outstanding Participants, Teen Program:

English: Susy C., Eduardo T., App/Coding: Bryan R., Art: Thaiz Pizango, French: Angela Q., Leadership: Kevin Z., and recognized for teaching their own classes to other teens within the teen center: Miguel M. and Rildo C (Guitar class) and Naydu J. (Dance class)

Outstanding Participants, Women’s Program:

Best Participation: Sara M., Best Attendance: Viky C., Best New Participant: Elizabeth E.

And last but certainly not least–the big awards:

“Participant of the year” awards are given to the most outstanding participant per general program. These participants reflect LLI values such as a strong commitment to learning, dedication to their respective program, willingness to help others, demonstrated leadership skills and more. Each participant receives a special field trip within Lima to a place of their choosing!

“LLI Kid of the Year”: Lindsay S.

“LLI Teen of the Year”: Diego G.

“LLI Woman of the Year”: Cecilia V.

And there you have it! Thanks for supporting LLI’s 8th anniversary. Come visit for #9!

English Teachers Needed!

Join LLI’s team and volunteer abroad in Lima, Peru with an ethical, community-focused volunteer program. Right now, we’re searching for volunteer teachers to join our English program on the following dates:

June 28th, 2017, August 8th, 2017, and January 11th or 12th 2018

You’ll teach in children’s, teens’ and/or women’s programs with the support of our Education programs manager, giving training and guidance on lesson planning and how to best utilize our curriculums. A love for education and a desire to teach is all we ask, though prior classroom experience in whatever capacity is a bonus.

A minimum of 6 weeks is required, but long term commitments of several months are especially valued.

Ready to learn more and apply? Check out www.lightandleadership.org for more information. Internships available for long-term commitments (10 weeks or more), just ask!


Anniversary #8… Comin’ Up!

Shola Shaffer-Young and Allison Malet are two borderless world volunteers currently studying at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and volunteering with LLI this summer! Check out what they’ve been up to this May. Hint: the Anniversary will be amazing thanks to these two!

We arrived here in Huaycan, Peru on May 3, just a little over 3 weeks ago, and have already grown to feel at home. We have found the enthusiasm and dedication that LLI’s volunteers have shown, along with the determination and positivity reflected among the teens, kid’s center students and women’s program participants to be truly inspirational.

Our primary focus has been centered around creating a sustainable fundraising campaign (here’s our plug…donate here!) and organizing for this year’s 8th Anniversary Event, as well as the ones to follow. Every year, LLI holds this event in order to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of all of LLI’s participants.

We are ecstatic about this year’s space-themed event, which will take place on Sunday, June 4th, 2017.  Open to all families and community members of Huaycan, we will be hosting a variety of interactive games for the children to play (related to our educational programs in English, Math, and Art) and other games just for pure fun and laughs! We’ve had a blast planning and preparing for the event with fellow volunteers and some of our wonderful teens in our teen program. We are excited to gather as a community and celebrate the many achievements of the participants in our programs with awards, games, cake, and more!

Check out the design, created by Brayan, Teen Center Participant!


Building Communication Skills with Improv

If someone were to tell you that playing make-believe can help develop your communication and social skills, you may be skeptical. But at Saturday’s Improvisation Workshop with the women’s program that’s exactly what we did. Improvisation (improv) is a form of theater where the players create scenes and situations on the spot–no script is used and no planning is done beforehand. The actors work collaboratively to create story, action, and dialog in present time as the scene is unfolding. This form of theater is excellent for groups to engage with each other on a whole new level– working in agreement as a team to create something together is key.

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Introducing improv to this group of women was as rewarding as it was fun. They took on each exercise with enthusiasm and a wonderful attitude of spontaneity. Even with a baby strapped to her back, Saida came up with brilliant ideas for different roles she could play. Giggling throughout, the women encouraged each other with each new exercise. By giving the women a space to explore new situations and reminding them there is no bad ideas, they will continue to develop self-confidence as well as their cooperation and communication skills.   

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Written by Arielle Weaver

Special thanks to Ari and Michael for leading the workshop!

Fashion Revolution Week is Upon Us!

Have you heard of Fashion Revolution Week? 

Huaywasi, LLI’s fair trade project which supports seven female artisans and provides sustainable funding to our women’s empowerment program (whoa, that’s a win-win), is proud to participate in Fashion Revolution Week, a week-long event to bring awareness to worker’s conditions in factories (spurred by the devastating Rana Plaza Factory Collapse in April 2013).

FRC Save the Date Flyer

So how is Huaywasi and LLI participating? Wednesday, April 26th we’re headed to an ethical fashion show and pop-up shop, hosted by Columbia College and Chicago Fair Trade, in support of fair wages and safe working conditions for all. Join us at 5:45 PM!

Plus, you can find our posts and followers sharing the #whomademyclothes hashtag, raising awareness of all the amazing men and women working in the industry today. Speaking of which, do you know who made YOUR clothes?

If you happen to have a piece of Huaywasi clothing, you’d know 😉 Or any of our really cool, amazing friends in ethical fashion like MataTraders, CauseGear, Zuri Collection and more! Check out clothing made by Guillermina, Nelida and Elena, Huaywasi artisans and be sure to shop ethically next time you’re in need of new clothing!

Want to know more about Fashion Revolution? They’re up to some pretty amazing things throughout the year, too! Learn more at fashionrevolution.org

“I taught my husband”… Certificate Course Success!

In March, LLI’s women’s program launched a new project: offering 4-8 week certificate courses to women, focusing on a variety of subject matters. The goal: offer women more consistent opportunities to learn, ask questions, and form community among other female students. 

We were lucky to have business pro and long-time LLI volunteer, Marco, lead our first certificate course: an introduction to business. Four classes were offered, all on Saturdays from 5 – 7 PM. At one point, attendance boosted to 21 participants! At the end of the course, women worked in groups to create a business plan, examining the steps from banking to quality control to marketing and presented their business plan to the group.


At the end of the four weeks, six dedicated women received certificates for completing all course work and attending each session.  Four of them were mother daughter pairs, which just made the graduation even sweeter. Marco and his students came together the following week to enjoy a potluck and certificate ceremony and celebration.  One participant, Raida, even made fish causa for everyone, which was the product that her group presented on for the final group project.  We loved it!

The icing on the cake was definitely the feedback from the students, who shared that the course helped them to make future plans to create a business and some cited it helped them sell their products better now in their business. One woman even shared with us that she was able to teach her husband what she learned. Amazing!

And for those of you who are wondering… LLI’s women’s program still continues to offer once a week workshops in addition to computer courses, but the certificate course feedback was so positive, we’re planning another! Next up, Child Nutrition with nutritionist Maria Alejandra! Stay tuned.


Spotlight on Maddie, LLI’s Resident Art Teacher

DSC_0873Our art program now flourishes in both our children’s programs and our teens’ programs. It even makes cameos here and there in our women’s program. It’s always a favorite and popular choice when kids are choosing their schedules and that’s often a direct reflection of our art teachers, like Maddie.

Maddie joined LLI’s team in January of this year and is staying with us until late June. It’s a perfect amount of time for her to build a strong rapport with students and carry out several modules of lesson plans.

Maddie came out to Peru after recently graduating from Spring Arbor University. When asked to tell us a bit about herself, she has a pretty good list of what describes her: she plans to get certified to teach Art and English, she loves to travel, and her Christian faith is the extremely important to her …. and she’s also a serious hula-hooper and grew up in a small town that boasts a nudist colony. Who knew?

Maddie has introduced some pretty amazing art modules in our children’s program, which are a series of connected lesson plans carried out over the span of 4 weeks. When asked about her favorite lesson plan, this is what she shared:

“In February, we did a unit on the genre of fantasy. I love connecting literature to art and I loved the freedom the kids had to be imaginative with these projects. For two weeks we worked on fantasy creature flip-books. Each page had three sections. They drew heads on the top on, bodies in the center, and legs, flippers, tails, or whatever in the third. They could mix the pages to create new fantasy creatures.

The kids were super excited about this project! I also began to see more of the kids grow more confidence of their own abilities, and fewer inclined to copy my examples.”


At LLI, we’ve seen our participants embrace art: it’s a time to be creative, to explore talents they maybe didn’t know they had, to meet new kids and teachers alike, and more. Maddie described her own thoughts for why teaching art is important, and we at LLI couldn’t agree more.

“Art has many benefits including improving self-confidence and offering a constructive outlet for self-expression. But a benefit that I see as really important is developing creative thinking, or creative problem solving skills.

Life is full of questions and obstacles. From as simple as: How can I cook this dinner without all the ingredients? To as complex as: How can we create affordable energy while protecting the environment? When we begin to see the problems from different angles, we are able to develop innovative solutions. With creative thinking, suddenly the impossible becomes possible.”

When the students are doing art, it challenges them to think creatively. They are forming and reinforcing pathways in their brains that will allow them to see the problems in their world from a different perspective, and construct unforeseen solutions. And this creates hope.

Who doesn’t love a good lesson plan on Biomes? Maddie connects art with other subjects, like natural sciences, through her lessons.

We’re grateful to have Maddie as part of our team at LLI. Thank you Maddie for sharing your time and talents!

Looking to join us as an art teacher? LLI is in need of a volunteer art teacher to join us June 21st. Are you able to volunteer? If so, please visit http://www.lightandleadership.org and apply to volunteer now!

Donations + Leadership :)

Due to the recent flooding and landslides surrounding Huaycán and happening all over Peru, Light and Leadership decided to act and see how we could help. Our Teen Leadership group came together, along with other teens in the center, to collect donations for those who lost personal items, their homes and more in the events.floods-3

Both LLI’s Teen Center and Kids’ Center served as a donation drop-off point for anyone interested in supporting. Thanks to LLI participants, their families, LLI volunteers (both local and international) and Huaycán community members, LLI teen leaders were able to gather 10 bags of donated clothing and heaps of canned goods, hygiene products, etc. Saturday evening was spent by teens sorting the goods, putting them into donation packs and getting them ready for delivery.

The next day, eight teens and three LLI volunteers made the delivery to the area of need, traveling about an hour from Huaycán and past Chosica.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated! GRACIAS a todos los participantes. 


We’ve Moved!

This past month, LLI moved spaces in Zone S!  We’re now hosting our Tuesday classes of Art and Reading in a small, local school. Check out the photos below!

LLI International Volunteer Rachel, checking out the space!
The guard dog 😉
Three of our dedicated students using the new space!

Thanks to the Zone S community of Renacer de Julio for many wonderful years using their community space. Gracias a la Zona S, la comunidad de Renacer de Julio por tantos años bonitos juntos en su espacio comunitario.