Thursday, June 13, 2013


As I'll share in future blog posts, the vibe here at the school in Yuracoto has taken a significant turn for the better. The teachers are pulling together, and my proposed plans are finally getting off the ground. Too bad I only have a few more months here.

One such project that I've seen come to life, after at least 8 months of promoting it, is the peer-reading groups, titled "Amigos Con Libros"/"Friends with Books'". The idea is that with books that Sarita hooked me up with, we get the older students to read out loud to the pre-school kids. Originally, I wanted the high school kids to do it, but the Elementary grades really wanted it, so I let them try.

There were few challenges. One, being that the preschool teachers are not connected to the Yuracoto school. They are their own school, with the two teachers acting as their own school directors. In the past, before these two new teachers arrived, the two schools didn't want to work together, even though they're on the same property, in fear that there'd be a power struggle and the Preschool would loose their autonomy. Luckily, during a meeting that Adam attended, the two new preschool teachers were excited about the project, and agreed to spearhead the activity.

The next problem was getting the Elementary teachers on the same page. One of the Preschool teachers and I pitched the idea in a 30 minute meeting. There's 8 Elementary teachers, and in the meeting you could see the huge differences between the teaching abilities. The good ones were two steps ahead of us, actively shouting out great ideas; (unfortunately, we had to temper them, as it's almost always better to start small and slow, and the build from there. Also unfortunate, is how good teacher tend to quickly move on to jobs in Caraz or other larger schools) The 'less able teachers (read "bad" here) were sleeping, texting, and asking if they could 'just show the Clifford movie, instead?' (I kid you not). In the end, the meeting was a success and we got the program off the ground.

Here's how it has worked out: I used 13 of the 50+ books I got from Sarah (In total, I've received over 200 books from her; however, they've now been distributed out to other volunteers throughout the department of Ancash), to use as a carrot to get the program going. I told the teachers that we'd do a 'trail run' with the 13, and if it works I'll ask my 'source in the USA' for more books. In reality the other books are in my room, being read by Yeferson until I'm sure Yuracoto is ready to take on the full load.  The teachers laminated the books, and divided them up between grades 1-6. Then each week preschool kids host a grade level that has spent time practicing reading their story. So far we are two week into the program with "Bizcocho Goes On A Walk" and "The Little Red Hen" being read (thanks to grades 1 and 2).

The system works pretty well. Here's some pictures:

The second graders presenting "The Little Red Hen":

The teacher made a story-board of the book and then a few students got up and read out loud. 

Here's one of the superstar Preschool teachers getting the crowd fired up. 

The storyboard. 

My finger covering a picture of a volunteer reader. 

Another volunteer reader. 

And yet another volunteer reader. 

After the story was over, the preschoolers colored pictures from the story (love the hats). 

 Here's the first graders work. They made a scroll that played on a T.V.:

The teacher was pretty happy with the end result; however, it was a little bit distracting for the younger ones. I really liked the effort though, so I had no problem.

Before any of this could happen, Keren and I had to split up the books. She came over to my site, and we made a day of it. We went on a bike ride, cooked pizzas, and sorted through the books (most of my time was spent tending the cooking fire, and keeping Keren from reading every book cover to cover).