Collaborating and Learning Together at Our New Learning Center
Our Learning Center as a Collaborative Space
Our English Learning Center opened in Santiago Atitlán in February with the intention to provide more English classes to more students, both children and adults of all levels. Now, we also use the space for various community development and learning opportunities.
There are currently not many available spaces for workshops and cultural activities in the area, so we wanted to open our doors for various events where the people of Santiago can come and enjoy a safe learning space.
Our main values are collaboration, initiative, adaptability and respect. We follow these values in every thing we do from teaching, to meeting new people, to hosting workshops and working with local families. Our ultimate goal is to support community empowerment and to provide a platform for intercultural exchanges in Santiago.
Contributing to the Community’s Empowerment
When we are looking to collaborate on an event or workshop, we aim to focus on the community’s empowerment first and foremost.
In May, we collaborated with a local writer, Vincent Stanzione, who has devoted his life to write about Santiago’s culture and traditions.
Over the span of two days, Vincent encouraged the audience to write their stories, since he believes that we all have a story to share. He shared mindset tips, writing habits, and he explained character roles in stories, such as the character of the hero as a role to be inspired by when writing. He shared some literary resources and engaged the audience through various writing exercises.
The audience was full of people of various ages from the community. Some of our teen and adult students from the Center attended, as well as a large group of students from a nearby highschool. Some other local writers also attended to get to know and collaborate with other passionate writers.
A few of the special guests that attended were local writer Alex, who shared a beautiful poem during the event; Señora Argentina, who is one of the hosts for our volunteers and was a teacher in the village for many years; Isaías, who is the librarian of Puerta Abierta and is publishing his very first children’s book this year called Matz, focusing on Tz’utujil culture. All of our English teacher volunteers also attended and participated in the workshop, as they are an integral part of the development of our Learning Center, and they were also able to take the opportunity to learn from the talented people of Santiago.
Building A Safe Space for the Community
Overall, the feedback after the event was very positive, and a few participants asked to be part of further workshops. We encouraged them to come up with a few ideas to lead potential workshops with the support of our English teacher volunteers who will assist with the organization of the events.
Currently, we have another event being planned to introduce participants to the art of mural painting run by a local artist, Bárbara Sosof.
These events are a great opportunity for our volunteers and our teachers, as we get to know even more people in the community, acquire new skills (as teachers we love to learn too!) and are able to have an even bigger impact in Santiago.
If you would like to be part of our Learning Center, please email us here: email@example.com