Start Student: Eduardo

Hooray! Eduardo, our Zone Z student is the FIRST to finish the entire 6 level kids’ curriculum with LLI. He’s been tutored by LLI in English 2x a week for four years. He’ll now be moving onto a new “teen” curriculum, even though he’s still 11. He’s a wee bit of an over achiever, no?  We celebrated this morning with him, his mom, and some cake to commemorate the occasion. Over the years he’s won several English competitions with LLI and last year also won the first ever LLI Student of the Year Award!

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Eduardo with his mom.

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With Lara in Zone Z classroom

Eduardo's English test

Eduardo’s English test

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Where are they now? — Edward Elliot, 2011

We are starting a new series of blog posts “Where Are They Now?” featuring our former volunteers and their journey after LLI. And today from Cambridge, UK we bring to you energetic, enthusiastic, easygoing Edward who became a very dear part of LLI in 2011, teaching English and Chess to our kids for two months.

Edd now lives in Oxford, has recently finished a History degree, and is currently pursuing a masters in Film next Autumn. Apart from school a lot of things keep Edward busy: working at a school doing administration stuff – the odd bit of marketing here and there as well; Some freelance journalism; he also runs a film group that sets up screenings and edits a few film review blogs/websites.

EDD in 2011 (left). Recently (right)

Let’s see what Edward has to say about his days, friends and experience at LLI!

LLI: So Edd, what’s your favorite memory from LLI days.

Edward: So, so many. Home-made guacamole and yuca; hiking in the foothills; a nuts trip to the zoo with the kids. I think my most lasting memory will be the get-together at Lara’s place and having an arm wrestling competition (I lost to Lara, if i remember correctly). The next day Kim, Connie, Chris and myself (all volunteers at LLI) sat on a combi back to Huaycan and had the best trip of jokes and wisecrack. That was pretty special.

LLI: Do you feel your experience with LLI has helped your your personal development? If so, tell us how! 

EDD:  Personal development? huge! I grew a beard in Peru and it has stuck ever since! More seriously, volunteering at LLI was my first long stay away from the UK. Living in a house of strangers, who very quickly became best-friends, was a huge experience for me and it has never left me.

LLI: Are you still in touch with any past LLI volunteers? Who?

EDD: Yeap. Kim S., we still email every other month. Connie W., slightly more sporadically.

LLI:  Would you like to give a shoutout to a dear friend from LLI and leave a nice message for them to read on our blog and make their day? 

EDD: Ah geez…a massive “Thank you” to Lara. A big Thumps Up (or maybe a “Hey” – which one’s better?) to Chris T., Sarah R., Tessa V., Bridget and Mimosa. A “Wazzup?” to Connie. And a “Please hurry up and reply to my email!!” to Kim. (I feel like I have abused the true intention of this question to just create a big shout out …).

LLI:  Five completely random things about yourself :)

EDD: 1) I always suck at answering these forms of questions.

2) I was meant to interview Peter Jackson (the director and producer of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy) and he cancelled 5 hours before the interview.

3) My closing degree thesis was a comparative study of Norwegian and Manx Runestones and Welsh Stone monuments of the 10th and 11th C. Amazingly, it was graded as the third best paper produced that year across the university’s undergraduate history department. (These are some totally immodest facts I’m churning out here.)

4) Every halloween I dress up as Edward Plastic-Cutlery-Hands – a knock-off of Edward Scissor-hands.

5) During a school swimming contest, my shorts slipped off as i tried to hurriedly exit the pool, exposing my bare behind to the whole school.

Thank you, EDD for being a sport and letting us into your new world as well as memories! You’ll always be a special part of LLI and will always have friends here no matter how many years go by :) Greetings and gratitude from entire LLI team.

Math Homework Help Sessions

This April LLI started math homework help sessions held for 1.5 hours each time 3 times a week for children ages 7-12.

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Peru struggles with math as a country, scoring last place out of 65 countries tested in the last PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) taken in 2012. It’s evident that math help is needed as attendance boomed in our math classes since they began – an average of 9 kids come to sessions each day they are offered, and some sessions have had up to 18 kids all working on completing their school math homework.

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When we enrolled children in the program, we surveyed parents to find out why they want their child to get additional math help. The following are the questions we asked word clouds with all the parents answers. The way word clouds work are they count the number of words in a text. The more times a word appears in text, the larger it appears in the cloud. So the biggest words are the ones that parents said the most.

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Why do you want to enroll your child in math class? (note: aprenda = learn, ayuda = help, mas = more, matematica/matematicas = math, necesita = needs, curso = class, quiero = want, puedo = can)

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Do you feel that yourself or another family member can help with math homework? (note: no = no, si = yes)

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Do you think that your child has difficulty with math in school? (note: no = no, si = yes)imageThese surveys underline the need for math help outside of school! Thankfully, we have several Peruvian volunteers like Jose Saenz (including teens in our teen program!) who come to help out, as well as Carlos, a volunteer who has been with LLI since July of last year. Carlos is leaving in mid-June this year, and we will be very sad to see him go since he has been integral to the success of the math program!

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If you or anyone you know of has advanced Spanish skills and can help with elementary school math, are most welcome to volunteer with LLI and help the kids’ success in school and careers, as well as help Peru work towards success in international exams!

Young Talent: Our Program Director–Katie Ehrlich

Today we bring to you our young, adventurous, gregarious and uber creative Program Director Katie who’s been a part of LLI team since November 2014. Originally from Denver, Colorado she is an avid fan of mountain climbing, yoga, and all things food-related. She has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Nicaragua, Japan, and Peru, where she learned Japanese, and Spanish. She received her Bachelors Degree in International Relations with a concentration on Health and Gender Development from the University of Denver.

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For two years – both during college and after – she was a part-time Americorps volunteer. There, she completed 900 volunteer hours at four organizations working with infant, youth, and adult welfare, health, and education: Mi Casa Resource Center, Colorado Bright Beginnings (now called Bright By Three), Cooking Matters Colorado, and Denver Health Hospital.

While finishing Americorps, she began a full-time position working with the State of Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment Unemployment Division, where she worked for over two years. During this time she worked as a Spanish-speaking call center representative, in outreach to Workforce Centers in eleven Colorado counties, as a member of the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation team, and finally as an adjudicator (judge) of unemployment cases.

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For six months during 2011, she lived in Cutervo, Cajamarca, Peru where she jointly worked with two Peace Corps volunteers to found and run a grassroots youth center called Kutiri. There, the youth center was open five days a week and did field trips, community events like movie nights and pancake breakfasts, maintained a library, had game and chess nights, and did workshops on self-development and English for teens. The project was later written into government legislation for local administration when the Kutiri founders had to return to the United States.

Later, during June 2014, she returned to Peru to conduct research on human trafficking nonprofits in Peru with a professor and PhD candidate from the University of Denver as well as one of the Kutiri co-founders. The group spent three weeks in Lima, Cusco, Madre de Dios, and Iquítos to interview 33 government agencies and NGOs regarding their social networks and the nature of the human trafficking they deal with, and to attend the 2014 Peruvian National Human Trafficking Conference.

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In August 2014, she left the State of Colorado to seek a job in her preferred field of International Development, during which time she moved to Washington DC. When Katie found the Program Director position with LLI during her job search, she was struck by how similar LLI was to Kutiri, and applied to the position the same day she found it.

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Katie says that she is so excited and thankful to have been given this opportunity to return to Peru and work with the people of Huaycán as it is precisely the position she had been searching for. It combines all her past experience with social work, international development, youth development, and Spanish into one perfect position, and it is an honor to work for LLI!

We are extremely fortunate and thrilled to have you in our team, Katie! You have brought a ton of energy to the house, and we admire you for being the passionate person that you are. And just to let you know, here at LLI, you have some ardent friends for life from all over the world :)

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Volunteer Spotlight: Karolyn Krol

This week we are bidding goodbye to our remarkably talented English teacher, Karolyn.  She hails from Chicago, Illinois and has been with LLI for a year as the English Program Manager.cThere’s something about her intensely dedicated spirit and approachable smile that draws attention immediately. Don’t be fooled by her petite frame for she’s one of the most strong willed and driven individual you’ll meet. Our teens have forged a bond with her that there will be many teary eyes upon her departure.

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Growing up in a bilingual family(she speaks Polish) she inherited curiosity for different cultures and exploring different parts of the world from her parents. In high school, her favorite subject was Spanish and that’s what she majored in college. For three years she worked as a Spanish teacher in the city of Chicago.

Four years ago, during a student teaching experience, she met Lara at Andrew High School. After hearing Lara talk about Light and Leadership, she dreamed of joining LLI but had to finish up her last year of college.

“I really wanted to find an opportunity where I could speak Spanish daily and immerse myself with people who share a similar mindset of helping those in need.”

She contacted Lara when her 3rd year of teaching Spanish wasn’t as fulfilling as she would have hoped. Knowing that in Huaycan she could practice her Spanish, get to know the community on a personal level and use her experience as the new English Program Manager, she decided to join LLI in 2014 and here she found her perfect work environment!

“I really enjoy teaching my adolescent class,” she says. “All of the students are very eager to learn and give it their all every class period. After every class, I feel so grateful for what I do in Peru and makes my time here even more rewarding.”

“Participating with LLI has taught me to focus on being a more self-less person. We meet many volunteers throughout our stay here and each individual has so much to offer.”

We wish you all the very best and hope to see you again, Karolyn! It’ll be so hard to say goodbye. We’ve watched you fall in love with the kids, the program, and Huaycan itself—It has truly been amazing to watch and be a part of!

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You’ve been a great example for kids, teens and everyone at the volunteer house, and your friends have much to say:

Katie Ehrlich: Karolyn, I’m so excited for you to be able to keep traveling and doing the job you love! You are such a sweet, reliable, and intelligent person and I know that you have a successful future ahead of you. It will be great to hear about all of your future adventures :) You’re always reading! It’s always so much fun to chat with you about what books you’ve been reading since I’m a big book nerd too :)

Shelby O’Brien: Karolyn – please don’t go! You are not only amazing at your job, but you’re an awesome friend and the best roommate a girl could ask for. I’m going to miss you so much and I can’t wait to be reunited in Chicago!!

I’m going to seriously miss your Chicago accent, our obsessive talks about stomach problems, and your ability to tolerate my sleep talking. You’re irreplaceable!

Donya Jahedmanesh: I wish you, Karolyn, all the best and best of luck for your next chapter in your life. I hope it will be as exciting and enjoyable as the time you have spend in Perú. May you be very successful on the new path of your life and may all your dreams come true. With you not being around is not going be the same anymore and everyone is going to miss you and your amazing personality and the strong effort that you have made over last one year. But everything has an ending and may be all the wonderful and beautiful memories and moments are in our heart forever.

I like your patience with the teens, the kids and with the adults when your are teaching them. Your teaching skills are very helpful and very creative. I like the fact that you do everything you can to support your students and everyone around you as well. Even if sometimes something is not going well you always know and have an idea or answer of how to deal with the situation even tough if it can be tough sometimes. Everyone is going to miss you a lot: all of the kids and everyone else you have taught and touched with your kindness.

Kamla Mistry: Karolyn, it has been so lovely getting to know you recently (mostly over cake and coffee)! I know that we shall all miss your friendly smile and positivity around the house, but I’m sure that you have a great future in store! Enjoy Spain :)

Karen Lee: Karolyn, our time together was too short. I was happy to know you and have worked with you though. I miss sitting next to you in the LLI office and all the memories we made in the short time that we were together. I know that LLI was lucky to have you and I was lucky to know you!

“Karolyn told me one day that she liked my earrings, and I was so happy to give them to her because now a little piece of me is with her since we are now countries apart. Miss you Karolyn”

 Pooja: Karolyn, during my stay in the volunteer house I constantly admired how hardworking, responsible and focused you are. It wondered me sometimes to see how much tenacity, sense of independence and willpower is stuffed in that petite frame of yours. I truly enjoyed helping you out with the English classes. You are a remarkably gifted teacher and the teens are going to miss you like anything. I wish you good luck and abundant health. Hope to see you soon.

Lara: Karolyn, you will be sorely missed here! We have been so lucky to have your time and talents here for a year and I’m sad to see you go. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your hard work–you have made such an impact here and have built up such a great program. It has been an upmost pleasure to get to know you as a co-worker, but also as a friend–I will miss you, but know I will see you soon :)

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Lady Expo: Place for Exciting Mother’s Day Gifts

Will you be in the Tinley Park area tomorrow on Saturday, May 9? Join LLI at the Lady: A Women’s Expo, in celebration of Mother’s Day! Huaywasi, LLI’s line of artisan products, will be available for purchase–come visit us at Booth 53 and get some amazing accessories and clothing for the summer including new t-shirts, dresses, yoga bags, beach bags, and MORE! We’ll be there from 9 AM to 3 PM (Tinley Park Convention Center). And it’ll be Free Admission & Free Parking. See you there!

Also, check out our Lookbook for 2015 and share with friends! http://lightandleadership.org/images/Huaywasi%20Lookbook.pdf

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Teen of the month: Kelly Salazar

I like to decorate, create things, paint, draw and I also like to sing. I enjoy reading books and learning English. I want to finish studying English and perhaps then I can teach it. Later I would like to study Interior Architecture

— Kelly Salazar, LLI teen of the month.

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Things to do: Eco Truly Park Yoga Retreat

Eco Truly Park is a beautiful Peruvian Pacific coast ecological, artistic community founded on Vaisnava principles, strategically located on Chacra y Mar beach, a district of Aucallama, in the province of Huaral, one hour by bus or car (63 km) north of the capital city, Lima. Its peculiar trulys, cone-shaped constructions made with mud and organic material, invite the visitors to feel like part of nature and to get in touch with the universe. Everything on the farm is done organically, from eating, growing plants, doing chores and even going to the bathroom.Here you may learn about recycling, yoga, vegetarian food, agriculture and more.

A few of our volunteers spent two days at the yoga retreat and here we are sharing their honest opinion on the Eco Truly Park (Peru) yoga retreat, and some tips for future visitors:)

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We first hopped on a collective on quince and got into the center of Lima. From there, we took a bus to the Yoga Retreat. That total travel time is about 2.5 hours one way.

Total transportation cost: about 30 soles

Cost of yoga retreat stay: 130 per person (we shared a room with a total of 5 people)

What we did:

We arrived and received a tour of the place which was approximately 40 minutes. After about 3 hours of arriving, we had a delicious vegetarian meal. We relaxed for a few more hours and headed to the beach for about an hour. Some girls slept, some read after the beach. Around 5 p.m. we headed to do some yoga with the instructor for an hour. Then, at night around 7 p.m. we did some meditations in the temple which was really neat!

2nd day:

We woke up and did yoga at 7 a.m. followed by a yummy breakfast. Once we ate breakfast, we had the rest of the afternoon to do what we pleased. We got a little bored and left around 1p.m.

Pros: Very relaxing, good food, tranquil place to relax, right on the beach, places to eat around the retreat as well

Cons: During the week, not many activities offered. During the week they offer art classes for example. Yoga classes were good but basic. The juice place inside the retreat is open only on the weekends :( Lots of down time.

Advice: Stay only a night. Bring a good book to read or something to occupy your down time.

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