PASEO Program Adventure—Day 21: El Porvenir, Huanchaco, y Cajamarca Peru

This morning (Friday—yes, we’re still playing catch-up), we traveled to El Porvenir to present our first workshop to teachers in one of the local national (public) schools. For the past two-and-a-half weeks, another student and I have been conducting observations in 12 national schools throughout El Porvenir and Trujillo Alto. The purpose of these observations was to note how students behave in the classroom setting, how teachers respond to student behaviors, and overall student/student and student/teacher interactions. Seeing as the specific program the other student and I are working with is geared towards preventing students from getting involved in the legal system, the overall goal is to help the teachers develop and foster a more supportive learning environment for these students.

Keeping in mind that many of these students do not have strong familial support, have limited resources at home, have parents who have to work around the clock to provide for the family (and are therefore left with limited parental supervision), have parents who want them to start working after primary school because an immediate income is more important than continued education, have parents who are involved in gangs/in jail, and/or are involved in gangs themselves, there are many outside factors that come into play that prove difficult for teachers to make an overall difference in the lives of these students.

As we interacted with the teachers throughout the workshop, we discussed various individual, social, familial, school-wide, and communal risk factors that many of these students face including teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse, joining gangs, and dropping out of school. Seeing as these were primary concerns addressed during the observations we conducted, we were then able to hear about the experiences these teachers have had with their students in each of the aforementioned categories. We discussed supportive factors too though, because as difficult as it may be to navigate around so many risk factors, there are always supportive factors that can counteract any and all risk factors. For many of these students, these teachers are exactly that.

When you spend years working in a profession where more often than not you feel exhausted, pushed to the limit, under-appreciated, and feel like the odds of success for your students are stacked against them due to so many outside influences, it gets difficult (to say the least) to persevere and keep trying to impact the lives of our future generation. The teachers we met with continue to do this, and as they described their motivation to join the field of education and their desire to continue working in this field, it truly sparked a beacon of light and hope in what has seemingly felt like a dark tunnel—especially when looking at the overall resources provided to these schools for educational purposes and the countless barriers that so many of these children continuously face on a daily basis.

After the workshop, we returned back to Huanchaco for our Global Mental Health class, which I’ll discuss in a later post. The rest of the day was spent getting a head-start on homework, and of course eating pollo saltado before traveling to Cajamarca, Peru for the weekend.

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Day 1 In Bogota, Colombia

Last month, my mother took my brother, sister, and me to Colombia where we spent two days in Bogota and two days in Cartagena. Throughout the next few days, I’ll be writing about our travels and experiences.

We flew out of Miami on the afternoon of Friday, August 7th, and arrived in Bogota later that evening. August 7th happens to be a national holiday in Colombia, as it celebrates the Battle of Boyacá. The Battle of Boyacá resulted in Colombia’s independence from the Spanish monarchy and is celebrated as a national holiday every year on the seventh of August. Every four years on this particular day, the elected President of Colombia is announced in the Casa de Nariño—the official home and workplace of the President of Colombia.

There are roughly nine million people living in Bogota, but there is no subway to transport everyone who lives there. Instead, the official means of transportation is public busses. There are designated lanes on the highways solely for the busses called TransMilenio. However, since the busses are always crowded, the name is commonly called TransMilleno as a joke by the locals. (Lleno in Spanish translates to full).

Upon arriving to our hotel, we were given a few minutes to drop our bags off in our rooms before being served dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. As we sat down in the restaurant, we were each given a delicious hot drink consisting of Aguardiente—a Colombian alcohol also known as “fire water”, in addition to cinnamon, sugar, and panela—unrefined whole cane sugar, common in both Central and  Latin America. We were then brought a creamy chicken soup with carrots to begin, followed by chicken, potatoes, and vegetables.

Since it was already dark outside by the time we arrived, there wasn’t much we could take pictures of besides for the food (hence the pictures of food below). Shortly after dinner, we went to sleep for the night before officially commencing our trip in the morning with a tour of the city.