A big part of my work here is partnering with the local students – it’s a set up as Quincy Jr/Sr High School, which I attended, where the middle and high schoolers both share a campus. At the school I attended, we were all there together, from 8AM to 3PM, and the middle schoolers were separated into their own wing. Here, they split the campus – in the mornings the high schoolers meet from around 7:30-12:30, and in the afternoons the middle schoolers come in from 1:30-6:30. About three years ago, they introduced an IB program, and those graduates are the pride of El Chaco. These students spend an extra two hours each afternoon in school, and do homework all night long to keep up.
My work with them is threefold:
1. GLOW/BRO Curriculum in the Classroom and Clubs
GLOW/BRO, or Girls Leading Our World and Boys Respecting Others, is a worldwide Peace Corps initiative promoting gender equality, sexual education, and female empowerment. You can learn more about it at my blog post on the subject. Using Peace Corps resources, I created an 11-session program that covers a wide range of subjects, from healthy relationships, teen pregnancy and self-esteem. I’ll be implementing this program with three groups – two middle school clubs age 12-15, each once a week, and the IB high school students age 15-17, two days a week. As I’m starting work with the high schoolers first, I’m looking for ways to incorporate leadership opportunities with the younger set into our curriculum.
2. Youth Assembly
Although this group is not yet fully fleshed out – they’re working to recruit representatives from each of the six rural communities in the county through a democratically-elected process – I’m very excited about their potential. The youth (ages 15-25) have organized a leadership council that advocates for their needs to the local government, and puts together projects that they care about for their peers. I’ve been attending their meetings, and am looking forward to cross-programming in the future!
3. Grassroots Soccer
After Christianity, Soccer is basically Ecuador’s national religion. Everyone knows how to play, and our small town has daily practices for children age 5-20. Using the Grassroots Soccer curriculum, I’m going to join in to coach practices for kids ages 13+. Only I won’t be teaching them how to score a goal, but rather setting a goal that they all learn about how to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in their community. We’ll be playing different dinamicas each week, and tie back the activity to the theme and lesson of that day – such as the importance of using condoms and understanding sexual history as it ties to risk of HIV/AIDS transmission. By co-teaching with the coaches and local social workers, I hope to empower them to continue to run these trainings and activities in other cities in the county even after I leave. My town alone has 8 groups that I’ll be helping lead for the next three months, and there’s six different cities in the county I’m responsible for serving.
My work here extends beyond high school education, but I hope this helps y’all better understand what my day to day looks like.