Donate to LLI’s 10th Anniversary Celebration!

https://donorbox.org/it-s-tee-time-support-lli-s-10th-anniversary-celebration

LLI is turning 10 and here in Huaycan it’s time to celebrate! (cue dance music!)

For our historic 10th Anniversary, Light and Leadership is hosting our annual party on June 2nd. And we desperately NEED your help.

Our hard-working participants deserve to go home happy with fantastic memories, smiles on their faces and wearing student-designed and custom-made LLI t-shirts. Our ambitious goal this year is to raise $1200 for our celebration in Huaycan. The theme for this year’s bash, you ask? Well, naturally—Musical Fruits! Be a peach and donate, please! Any amount you can squeeze out of that metaphorical lemon: $5, $10, $20 would be positively groovy!

Keep in mind that these are no ordinary t-shirts. They are specially designed by one of our talented teens and handmade locally by our Huaywasi artisans. Each of the t-shirts will be made in accordance with Huaywasi Peru’s fair trade policy. In other words, they will be sustainably and responsibly made in addition to supporting our talented artisans.

It’s a win-win, really!

So please donate using the link above and look on our social media feeds for more updates and information.

Our participants have worked very hard this cycle. Just ask our one of our volunteers (and author of the current post) Miles Anderson. He says, “I have been an English teacher for most of our kids and students. Just finished grading papers actually, with great excitement for my students’ progress! Please let the fruits of their labor be celebrated by donating and continuing to support Light and Leadership.”

No more fruit puns we promise.

Miles explains the colors of the rainbow to art students in Zone S

Please be a part of our non-profit and help make a difference in each of our participants’ lives. The women in business courses, Huaywasi artisans, and students of all ages really deserve it. We know we’re repeating ourselves at this point like the chorus of a good pop song, but it needs to be said, celebrated, and cherished. In the meantime, check out our social media channels and website for more details on what is sure to be a legendary 10th anniversary!

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Mujeres Emprendedoras: The importance of self-esteem for women entrepreneurs

Starting a business takes more than a good business plan. It takes a whole lot of self confidence.

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks at the Women’s Program, as we have started our second year of financial education classes in Huaycán. The goal of the program is to empower women to achieve economic independence by starting their own business. We have welcomed twenty-one aspiring female entrepreneurs to the program, who want to learn new skills to either start a business or expand an existing one. Their business ideas include handmade bracelets, Huaycán themed T-shirts, and natural cosmetics.

This year, for the first time, we have incorporated a self-esteem course into our program. This came from the initiative of a local volunteer, Maria Huallpa. She believed the self-esteem classes would be an excellent addition to the finance program. Last year, we did a small self-esteem workshop as part of the preparation for our yearly business competition and received great feedback from the women, who said the workshop helped them feel much more confident during their presentation.  We then realized we should make self-esteem classes a bigger part of our program.

Classes in self esteem, like this one, help women find their voice and feel confident in promoting their business

Self-esteem is extremely important for entrepreneurs. The decision to start a business requires entrepreneurs to believe in themselves and to believe that they are capable of running a successful business. All business interactions, from sales to networking to delivering a pitch, require confidence and self-esteem. Entrepreneurs have to be able to sell themselves as well as their product. They need to be able to trust their skills and abilities to be able to make good decisions, take risks when appropriate and recover from setbacks.

Self-esteem is even more critical for female entrepreneurs, as many women face stigma and discrimination in both their personal and professional lives, which can cause their confidence to take a knock. Studies have highlighted self-esteem as a major barrier that women face when setting up their own businesses. Many struggle to start their business because they do not believe they have the capability to do it, and if they do start one, lack of confidence makes it harder to access the initial capital, making women more likely to discontinue their businesses. This is what we are striving to change with our self-esteem classes.

Participants in LLI’s Mujeres Emprendedoras program will share their business ideas in front of a large group of friends and family at the end of November

Our self-esteem classes are led by local volunteer Maria Huallpa. We will have three sessions on the following themes: the role of women, leaving our comfort zone and learning to love ourselves. Last Sunday, we had our first session, which explored the different roles women can have – a mother, an entrepreneur, a professional, an artist, a sportsperson. We reflected on how women are not confined to just one role and that we can excel at many different things. We also spoke about the importance of setting goals for ourselves in the different areas of our lives, and how achieving these goals helps us to feel better about ourselves and improve our self-esteem.

LLI’s Mujeres Emprendedoras program encourages women to leave their comfort zones and explore different roles and talents they may not have considered before

Maria Huallpa explains “It is so important that the women know they are capable of playing different roles, that these roles have the same value as what they do in their role as mothers. This will enable them to feel stronger, more sure of themselves, and their self esteem will improve as they feel more fulfilled. They will also understand that they can be a source of change and inspiration for new things”

It was particularly lovely to see many of the women sharing, in the supportive environment created by Maria Huallpa, not only their ideas, but also their personal experiences they have had in these different roles.

In our next class we will reflect on what is meant by ‘comfort zone’, what happens when we stay inside it and the benefits of leaving our comfort zone.

Mujeres Emprendedoras helps women build confidence through sharing their thoughts and ideas in a safe setting, supported by other women.

Interested in helping out in the women’s program? We are looking for a Women’s Program Assistant starting in June.

Listening to the Community: LLI’s Community Forum

Community members discuss Huaycán’s future in LLI’s community forum

What is the community forum?

On March 30th, LLI hosted a community forum at our Education Center, inviting members from the Huaycán area to come and share their thoughts and ideas about their community. These community forums are held twice a year and they are an important way we put into practice the idea of ethical volunteering. We want community members as a whole to help shape what we do as an organization, not just those who participate in our programs.

Emma, LLI’s Managing Director, believes that the forum is important as “It’s nice to get a fresh pair of eyes to look at what we do from the Peruvian cultural perspective. And, the forums help us stay current in the issues that matter most to the community of Huaycán.”

One of teens, Sait, who attended the forum said that he enjoyed the experience as “it was interesting, educational and everyone had a good idea on how to improve Huaycán.”

Huaycán, City of Hope

Since the founding of LLI, we have invited the community to shape our focus as an organization. The original community forums that our founder, Lara, held showed her that equitable access to high quality education in Huaycán was what community members felt was most lacking in their city and that’s why, since the beginning, LLI has focused on offering high quality education free of cost to the kids, teens, and women of Huaycán. Now, we want to continue to listen to the community as we move into LLI’s 10th year and work together to determine how LLI can use the structure and expertise that we have in place to help solve Huaycán´s most pressing problems. LLI believes that we can accomplish so much more when we work hand in hand with community leaders towards shared goals.

This most recent community forum was the first of 2019 with the theme being: “Sueño mi Huaycan.” This year, the idea was to have the community members share their thoughts on what they like about their community, what types of things they’d like to improve, and then come up with possible ways to make those improvements.

The planning process:

Brynn, the Kids’ Program Manager, helped plan the event with our Teen Program Manager, Yara, our Volunteer Experience Coordinator, Ximena and Emma.

They began planning about a month in advance by having weekly meetings primarily discussing how to create a community forum that would be useful not only for the community as a whole, but also that would give us here at LLI an opportunity to check in with community members in what they want and need.

Here’s Brynn’s comment on the planning process:

“The purpose ultimately, was to take time to reflect on how we can stay relevant to the community’s needs through the work we do here.”

We personally invited key community leaders and also promoted the event through Facebook and outside of our centers to encourage as many people to come as possible.

The day itself:

As a result of Emma, Ximena, Brynn and Yara’s hard work in promoting the forum, 30 community members attended, both teenagers and adults of all ages. The positive aspects of Huaycán that were highlighted included the main park, the canchas (soccer courts), Huaycán de Pariachi (the archaeological site), the unity of the community and its organization, the schools and the shopping areas.

Yara revealing which aspect of Huaycán was deemed to be the one that needs the most improvement

The community identified 5 key areas in Huaycán they believe need improvement: Security, cleanliness, organization, hospitals, and the environment / green areas.

They discussed improving security by educating the children and implementing more safety measures, such as street cameras. Cleanliness they thought could be improved by instilling the idea of looking after the community among its members, and emphasizing the importance of looking after the local environment.

Discussing strategies for improving the highlighted areas as a big group

The final discussion point of the forum was how LLI could assist the community members in achieving these improvements. They proposed more educational trips and cultural events for the teenagers as well as encouraging empowerment and self-confidence through workshops and films, access to books and materials from other countries, specifically on the topic of feminism.

As Maria, another teen, pointed out, LLI helps the community members improve Huaycán because “they provide a place for meetings to be held which is very valuable to the area’s progress.”

Smaller groups discussing methods for improving Huaycán

How will we follow up?

LLI is an education-based organization, so our response to what we learned in the community forum is to explore ways that we can use our education programs to focus on topics that are important to improving the community. Through our leadership program, we will encourage our teen participants to give workshops to our kid program participants on the topics identified in the community forum as key for the future of Huaycán. We are also discussing the feasibility of longer term projects such as organizing a community clean up or painting murals encouraging people to care for the environment in outdoor spaces around Huaycán as part of art class. Additionally, we will hold a follow-up community forum in October to discuss in more detail how we can use education to help solve Huaycán’s most pressing problems.

We will be keeping our ear to the ground to make sure we stay relevant and engaged with the community here in La Ciudad de la Esperanza (the City of Hope), Huaycán.

LLI: The Power of Technology

Here at LLI, we offer tech classes to the children in the Kids’ Center in order to develop their computing skills as well as assisting students who do not have access to technology resources outside of school. It’s a great way for the students to enhance their knowledge of technology in a fun and informative environment.

Our Tech Program is offered every Saturday and is taught by our local teacher, Maria. Maria teaches basic coding and typing to our participants. She has been part of the LLI team since 2018 and she also works as a teacher in a local school during the week, teaching children and teens. At LLI, Maria is teaching typing to 16 children this cycle (March through May) in two different classes.

Maria outside LLI’s Education Center

Principally, Maria teaches the participants how to touch type, emphasising the importance of technique and accuracy. Her main focuses in her classes include encouraging the children to use all of their fingers when typing, looking at the screen without looking at your fingers: ‘blind typing’, good posture and learning how to write correctly.

When asked what Maria wants to achieve by the end of the course, she answered that she wants the participants “to be able to write without needing to look at the keyboard.”


Leonardo color-coding a keyboard to show the correct touch typing finger placement  

Both Maria and the rest of the LLI team believe that these classes are extremely useful for the participants, given today’s society where computers are an essential part of day to day life, whether that be at school, at home or in the professional world. In this way, this program sets the children up for success in the future.


Cristofer and Kalet color coding keyboards (Millene and Fabiana in background)

For Maria, this program is “a very good option that the NGO offers here in Huaycán” that allows the participants to grow in confidence as well as develop their tech skills. Maria finds it very interesting to teach these classes as she enjoys seeing how each individual works best and understands what she is trying to teach them. In her words, “each student is different and that’s what makes these classes so much fun to teach.”

Interested in joining Maria and helping advance LLI’s technology program? We are looking for technology volunteers during the summer months and during Cycle 4 from September through November. Check out our science and technology program placement guide.

To apply, email our Program Development Intern, Ian, at vcm@lightandleadership.org with your resume and a cover letter explaining what you would like to contribute to the program.


LLI – Forming Future Leaders

True to our name, LLI has an exciting and innovative leadership class, which we teach to the teens twice a week. Our dedicated local volunteers, as well as the program leader, Yara, are responsible for teaching a wide range of important topics. For example, some classes aim to increase awareness about important issues, such as the recent addiction class. Meanwhile, other classes are focused on community development, such as the classes about the history and culture of the community. The program also helps teens develop projects to make changes in the community of Huaycán. For one of these projects, the teens went out into the community to support a local nonprofit giving deworming for the pets in Huaycan and handing out free dog food.

The teens at the local park as part of their animal care project
                                                   

One of the teens involved in the project, Brian, said:

“This project is important to me because I love animals and this is a good way to help them. This is important because not everyone in Huaycan knows how to care for their pets.”

We also have classes which aim to teach the teens how to develop the individual qualities of a leader, such as self-esteem.

Here’s what our program leader, Yara, had to say about the classes:

“The goals of the leadership program are to improve opportunities for teenagers ages 13-17 living in Huaycán and its surrounding areas by teaching and practicing various life and leadership skills, with the goal of furthering community engagement and improving future social and economic mobility by creating social projects led by teens.

Local volunteer Pedro teaches teens about the history of Peru as part of the LLI’s leadership program

“I’ve really enjoyed being with teens and watching them grow and learn at these classes, I feel that they really like leadership and they’re anxious to learn more about themselves, their community and the world. During the classes, they’re also free to talk and discuss their ideas, feelings and experience in an environment full of respect, confidence and friendship.”

Leadership classes encourages cooperation, personal growth and good morals, and is one of the most popular classes at the teen centre.

Here’s what one of the students of the class, Saeed, had to say about the leadership class:

“The thing I like most about leadership class is that all of the classes are both fun and educational! The most useful classes that we have had so far have been the ones on communication and addiction. In the future, I would like to learn more about social skills.”

Former teen program manager, Gia, teaches a leadership class in the Teen Center

For more information about who we are and about our programs, are you can visit https://www.lightandleadership.org/

5 Opportunities To Work With LLI!

Have you been looking at LLI and wondering a bit more about our positions? Are you looking for ethical volunteering opportunities? Though we have a wide range of positions available in Huaycán, Peru, this blog post is going to dive into 5 positions. Check them out – one of them could be the perfect fit for you!

1. Teen Center Leadership Program Facilitator

This is a super cool position in which a volunteer is directly involved with one of our most exciting and important programs – our Teen Leadership Program! Volunteers facilitate leadership classes and assist in developing leadership curriculum and leadership projects! If you are passionate about leadership, have advanced Spanish skills, and are looking to make at least a 6-week volunteer commitment – this is the position for you!

Meet Yara, our current Teen Program Manager:

“The Leadership Program is the most integral part of our Teens’ Program, that’s why it is so important to have someone in charge of this area. This person will develop the curriculum for the classes and their evaluations, facilitate them, and, most importantly, follow day by day the teens’ projects to improve the community and the Teen Center. Additionally, we now have a Committee governed by the teens, however, this needs more preparation and meetings to allow teens to increase their leadership skills.
Daily tasks could change depending on leadership classes, meetings with the committee, assemblies, events, projects, etc. All these tasks will require energy and tons of commitment.” – Yara, Mexico

Saturday Night Event at the Teen Center: Smoothie Night!

2. Kids’ Program Assistant Volunteer

Have high intermediate or above Spanish skills and looking to work directly with program participants? The Kids’ Program Assistant Volunteer position is ideal for college students or grads who are looking for a diverse non-profit experience that includes program development, front desk work, administrative support, participant registration, special event facilitation, and even space for teaching a class if desired! Commitment requirement: At least 6 weeks.

Meet Brynn, our current Kids’ Program Manager:

“A KP Assistant Volunteer would not only be an asset to the manager herself in immediate KP related tasks, but they would also be an invaluable set of extra hands in in the center working directly with the kids. The KP assistant should be looking to work in a team environment as well as independently. They should be creative, kind, energetic, motivated, and approach their tasks with a can-do attitude! The KP assistant would help the manager with the daily responsibilities that keep the center running. This position is also an opportunity to learn more about the coordination and organization of a program within an NGO.  I am really looking for someone who can help me with the responsibilities of running the Kids’ Center on a day-to-day basis as well as complete some behind the scenes administrative work. I am always looking for new creative ways on how we can keep improving the Kids’ Program.” – Brynn, USA

Art Class at the Kids’ Center

#3. English Teacher

One of our most requested classes from participants: English. We have kids and teens with a range of English abilities who are looking to improve their skills. Our English program caters to both volunteers with teaching experience (we’ll talk about implementing your own ideas and experience!) as well as new or novice teachers (we have existing lesson plans and curriculum!). This is a great opportunity for those who have no Spanish (some Spanish doesn’t hurt either!) and are willing to make at least a six week commitment to volunteering in Huaycán.

Meet Jana, our current English Teacher!

“Being a part of the LLI organization and becoming one of their members was a really challenging experience. I am so thankful that I could participate here in Huaycán as an English teacher because you are not only teaching, you are also learning for yourself. As much as you are here because you want to help the community, in the end you will see that the community and all of the great people here also helped and influenced you. Even though I had no experience with teaching before, LLI warmly welcomed me in their small but gracious family.  If you are willing to help, even if you have no experiences with volunteering, I recommend you to come to LLI. They will take care of you and help you with everything from the very beginning.” – Jana, Slovakia

4. Short Term Volunteer

Want to be involved but can’t meet the 6 week requirement for a lead teaching position? We are always looking for shorter term commitments who get a diverse view of LLI’s programs by being classroom assistants, helping at our front desks, and assisting administratively! Still want some teaching experience? We can organize a workshop or special event while you are here.

Meet Lakeim, a current short term volunteer!

“I will be volunteering with LLI for a month and despite having a basic level of Spanish, they still found useful and meaningful things for me to do. I’ve assisted in English lessons, which has been great as it has let me interact with the teens of Huaycán. The highlight though was being able to do a workshop in social media marketing with the Women’s Program participants. It’s something I want to do in the future so I’m so grateful that I was able to incorporate one of my interest within the programme!” – Lakeim , UK

Women learn to open a facebook account for their businesses in Lakeim’s social media class
Lakeim shares social media knowledge with the women of Huaycán

5. Huaywasi Fashion Design and Business Development Intern

Interested in working with the seven women artisans we partner with at Huaywasi? Contributing your thoughts on designs to upcoming collections, as well as developing our social media and business plans? At Huaywasi: A Fair Trade Project, our interns work under the main designer to collaborate with the artisans in order to produce ethically made, sustainable pieces.


Huaywasi intern Sarah sits with Elena, one of our artisan partners, in her livingroom

Meet Sarah, our current Huaywasi Fashion Design and Business Development Intern:

“As an intern with Huaywasi I have loved the opportunity to visit the artisans, talk with them, and observe their process. I have visited Gamarra – the largest fabric district in all of Latin America with Jill, our main fashion designer, to buy the materials we need. I’m learning about how to market, how to make and track purchases and develop a budget, and how the artisans are incorporating the beautiful textile history of Peru, from Tela Andina to ceramic toritos, into the collections. With my position, I have had structure in helping with the upcoming collections, but I also have some time to develop my own projects and ideas. For example, I have been developing a photo storytelling series about the seven amazing artisans here in Huaycan that work with Huaywasi. I am working on blog posts, helping choose designs, and have contributed ideas for Huaywasi’s new one of a kind, upcycled, pieces.” – Sarah, USA

If any of these positions sound like a good fit for you, contact us at vcm@lightandleadership.org

Emma Livingston MD: A Chat with LLI’s Managing Director

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Emma Livingston, MD

As we kick off our new year, we want to highlight Emma, our Managing Director, daily inspiration, and master organizer. She has been with LLI since 2017, after graduating with an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. With the help of idealist.org, she found the perfect international development position where she could help grow and manage a grassroots organization focused on education – that’s us!

To learn more about Emma’s passion for LLI and her exciting take on the upcoming year, read on!

What do you feel is the most unique aspect of LLI?

LLI’s commitment to listening to the community, as well as our focus on forming community leaders are aspects that make this organization unique. When LLI’s founder, Lara, first came to Huaycán in 2008, she consulted with community members to gain insight on what was the greatest need for the community of Huaycán. Time and time again, she heard from community members that what they wanted for their children and what they lacked was high quality education. That is why, from the beginning, LLI has been focused on education.

Teens participate in Saturday night event – ‘Decorating with Plants’ run by teen program participant Edson E.

LLI continues to reach out to community members to make sure we are staying in touch with their needs. Each year, LLI organizes community forums where we can hear directly from community members about their perception of the work that LLI does in Huaycán and what additional activities or programs the community would like us to pursue.

LLI is a small and close-knit organization, which means managers and volunteers form strong bonds with each other, with local volunteers, and with our kids, teens and women participants.

What are some of your new 2019 goals for LLI?

At LLI, each manager sets 2-5 goals for their program or position during the year. The main goals this year are:

1) Improve class quality in the Kids’ Program by training teachers on our program objectives. Instead of just teaching a science class, for example, teachers will focus on using science to teach kids about creativity, leadership, empathy or critical thinking.

Kids’ program participants fascinated by mentos and diet coke science experiement

2) Increase parent involvement in both the Kids’ and Teens’ Program by holding parents’ days, where students present to their parents what they’ve been learning in class, and inviting parents to participate in program-wide events.

3) Implement new and improved Teens’ Leadership curriculum. At the end of the year, teens will launch a community service project to help better the community of Huaycán.

4) Apply for (and hopefully receive!) a grant to help expand our Women’s Empowerment Program. The Women Entrepreneurs course, launched last year for women who want to improve or start their own small business, was very successful and empowering for the women who participated. Our vision is to expand this program this year so that more women can take advantage of it.

5) Raise 10000 soles locally as a first step to diversifying LLI funding sources.

If you could give 1 piece of advice to an incoming volunteer what would it be?

Volunteers doing yoga on the roof of the volunteer house

Come ready to learn and grow as a person. The volunteer experience is not always comfortable. You may feel overwhelmed, scared, underprepared, bored, sick, dirty, lonely, crowded, unhappy, or like you’re not making a big enough impact. I encourage each volunteer to take on the experience as a challenge and as an opportunity to learn about a new culture, learn about how a grassroots organization operates, and learn about themselves as a person. If you come to Huaycán eager to get out of your comfort zone, I think you will have a really positive, eye-opening experience.

What has been your favorite memory of LLI?

I loved being a part of the Women’s Program First Annual Business Pitch Competition in 2018. I was so proud to see 9 women, who had started the program feeling very shy and intimidated, present their business idea in front of a panel of 3 judges and a huge audience of their friends and families. I could tell that the women felt proud of themselves, proud of what they’d learned throughout the course, and proud to have the courage to present their ideas in public. I think that was a moment where I could really feel the impact that LLI can have on the lives of our participants and how meaningful education can be.

Mujeres Emprendedoras (Women Entrepreneurs) 2018

What is your favorite Peruvian food?

I enjoy salsa criolla. It’s a very simple sauce of onion, lime, chile pepper, olive oil, salt and pepper that you can put on anything (salads, tamales, sandwiches, eggs) and make it taste so very delicious.

How do you hope to grow your local volunteer presence this year?

Local volunteer Pedro M. teaches teen program leadership 
class: The True History of Peru

Local volunteers are essential for helping LLI make a big impact on the lives of our participants and fulfill our mission of building local leaders.  I am working this year on a very exciting project led by our Education Program Manager, Yeni and supported by our Program Development Intern, Ian and our Volunteer Experience Coordinator, Ximena. We want to revamp our Local Volunteer Program so that it is on par with our international volunteer program – complete with trainings, certificates, and much more support and resources for our local volunteers. We want to make our local volunteers feel proud and excited to be part of Light and Leadership and help show them how important they are for our participants. Stay tuned to learn more about the progress we make on this important program throughout 2019!

Thank you so much to Emma for sharing her story and for being such a supportive, inspiring presence in the LLI community! Your passion for this organization (and Peruvian food) is infectious, and we are so lucky to have you. We can’t wait to see all these goals carried out in the new year, and are certain it’s going to be our best year yet!

Teen participant dreams out the window of the Teen Center. LLI’s programs strive transform the lives of our participants through education and develop the future leaders of Huaycán

2018: A Quick Review!

Happy New Year! 

Before we dive into 2019 completely, we wanted to take a quick look at some stellar stats from 2018 demonstrating LLI’s impact in the calendar year 🙂 A more complete re-cap of 2018 will be available in the coming months via our Annual Report, but until then, check it out:

We worked with 512 kids, teens and women in 2018.

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In our Kids’ Program,  1567 books were read. :0

biblioteca (8)

Our Women’s Program launched a successful Financial Education Certificate Program, employing 5 part-time Peruvian instructors and impacting 54 women.

women's program (3)

The Teen Center opened its doors 229 times throughout the year, offering everything from special events on Saturday nights, guitar classes, leadership workshops and more.

Colombia Party (1)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! We’ll have to wait until the Annual Report is released in the next few months to dig in deeper to LLI’s impact–so stay tuned!

Thank you to all of our donors and supporters who were with us in 2018. We look forward to continued success together as we enter 2019!!!

LLI’s Holiday Wrap Up

On Sunday, December 2nd, LLI finished out the year with a bang, celebrating the holiday season at our Education Center with over 100 of our children’s program participants and their siblings.

Our superstar teen volunteer was Angela, who planned and led an event for the entire day decorating Christmas trees with the kiddos:

!Angela with kids!

A rotating cast of teens helped with the second project: Decorating a Christmas bell. Here Dylan, one of our nearly 40 new kids’ program participants this year, is very focused on making the most beautiful bell possible:

!Dylan with cup!

And, of course, a Peruvian holiday party is not complete without panetón (fruit cake) and chocolatada (hot chocolate). Here, our ex-teen participant turned local volunteer with the most number of hours this year, Rildo, lovingly stirs the hot chocolate prepared by one of LLI’s longest serving staff members, Queta.

!Rildo with his hot chocolate!

Meanwhile, over at the Teen Center, parents also enjoyed fruit cake and hot chocolate with their littlest children while they patiently filled out our annual survey, which helps us gauge parent satisfaction with our programs and the impact our classes have on their children’s development. Some highlights from this year’s survey: 98.5% of parents said that LLI has helped their children perform better in school, while 76.9% of parents said they were ‘very likely’ to recommend LLI to a friend or family member.
!Hot hot chocolate!

After the survey comes the fun part: Choosing a Christmas gift for their sons and daughters who are participants in our program. This is a special moment for the parents and something that many of them look forward to all year round. We know it is not always easy for families to commit the time to attending weekly classes in addition to all their other responsibilities. The holiday party is our way of thanking the parents for the commitment they show to their children’s education and participating consistently in our classes throughout the year.

Of course, our teen participants play a big role here, as well: Helping the parents choose the gifts and then wrapping the gifts for them so their kids will have a surprise on Christmas day.

!Good picture of gift wrappers!

And, that’s a wrap! A special thanks to our event coordinator volunteer Catherine Thompson who organized the fundraiser for the holiday party that collected over $3000 (well above our goal!) The extra funds will go directly towards providing more high quality classes for our children’s program participants in 2019.

In addition, Catherine worked with our teen center participants to plan every aspect of our holiday party. She planned it so well, that even though she was sick during the actual festivities, the event still went off without a hitch.

Thank you to all of you who support LLI. With your help, we are working hand in hand with the community of Huaycán to develop its future leaders!

A very happy holidays from all of us here in Huaycán. ¡Felices fiestas a todos!

!Señoras con su regalo!

LLI’s #1 Sought After Program: English

When someone knocks on LLI’s (many) doors, they’re often seeking out a rumor or a tip they heard. “Quiero que mi hijo aprende ingles.” // I want my child to learn English. Ingles_Lisa (6)

Our English program has a longstanding history within the community: we’ve been teaching it almost 10 years and have offered thousands of classes. It was the first program we launched, again because those who wanted educational support always responded with “English” when asked what they wished to learn! Our mission has always been focused on responding to the needs of the community. This need was one we could help support immediately in 2009.

Why is English so popular? The English languages permeates many aspects of Peruvian culture and teens and parents alike often recognize it’s value: if you learn English, you might be able to get a better job–or communicate with someone from another country–or simply, understand one of your favorite songs. It’s additionally offered in schools here, though the quality of the instruction is often very lacking, so parents are seeking out opportunities for reinforcement for their kids. Moving beyond high school, universities require English skills and employers highly value the skill. Simply put, learning English is useful!

Don’t take our word for it. We asked Yeni, our Education Program Manager, her opinion on why our English program is important. Yeni is a licensed teacher and is local to Huaycan. She works with volunteer teachers (working in all programs) to help them craft an effective lesson plan, handle classroom management, and cross cultural barriers in the classroom. Here’s what she had to share:

For me, the English Program is so important because during my experience with LLI, what I have seen is that every week there are always teens and kids’ parents coming to our Education Center asking to be part of this program and to take clases.

First of all, I can understand why always kids and teens want to take English classes. It is because nowadays English is an in-demand language and also English classes from their schools aren’t taught very well and they do not have well prepared English teachers at school.  Second, English it is important for kids and teens because it helps them to improve their academic performance in this language at school.”

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Yeni, who joined LLI’s team in January 2018, works with volunteers during a weekly teacher meeting.

We currently work with 93 kids and teens ages 7-17 years old within the program, offering free after school and weekend classes often taught by native speaking volunteers. Thanks to these volunteers, we’re able to keep classes going year round (with a short break in December). One of these teachers, Leslie, joined us in late August. We asked her why she decided to join us as a volunteer:

After a long career in business my retirement day finally arrived! What next?  It had long been an ambition to volunteer but how and where? First step was to take a Teaching English as a Foreign Language qualification as learning English is much in demand. Knowing some Spanish, and wanting to teach, Latin America seemed a good fit.  After searching the web (as everyone does nowadays) I was drawn to a volunteer position to Teach English in Huaycan. LLI had a photo of an ‘older’ volunteer on their website (not seen so often when checking out volunteer sites) so I thought ‘this is for me’.  And so it is. Signed up for a full cycle (term) it’s been a very fulfilling experience teaching kids from 7-17 English, wrestle with my lesson plans each week, live a more ‘communal’ life than usual, and on days off take in the wonderful sights in Peru. Even in later years stepping outside your comfort zone is very life affirming!”

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Leslie working with our Kid’s English program, which operates after school and on Saturday and Sundays

English is a phenomenal tool for anyone who speaks a different language, though we recognize as an organización it’s not the only thing that defines our work nor is it the only need found within Huaycán. We consistently encourage kids and teens to explore our additional programs, like music, coding, and reading, plus take advantage of our homework help hours which spans all subjects!

Interested in joining us as a volunteer? We’re searching for volunteers for our English program to begin in January! Learn more and apply here!