As February approaches, it truly is a thrilling time at the volunteer house in El Tránsito. Not only did a new group of volunteers arrive, but February also marks the beginning of a new school year in Nicaragua.
The start of a new school year represents several things for me. As the director of the volunteer program, I spend a lot of time working in the local public school with the teachers, students and volunteers. The situation at the public school in Nicaragua is daunting. The teachers are under-paid, under-resourced and unmotivated to truly help the kids succeed in life. The Nicaragua Dispatch just published an article stating only 5% of the graduating students from Nicaragua’s public schools can pass the entrance exams for university. The reality breaks my heart, as I truly believe education is the only way to overcome poverty.
So, as the new school year begins, a new start, a new opportunity to change the reality also commences. In cooperation with several great volunteers from universities in the U.S. and several organizations in El Tránsito we are working on key after-school programs over the next week. Again, the ultimate goal is to increase the percentage of El Tránsito students able to pass the entrance exam to 100%. In the short term, we know we have to engage these students in activities that will enable to them to succeed. I’m hopeful we will be able to offer English classes, organized sports, dance classes, journalism classes, computer classes…and of course a class that is focused on passing the entrance exam.
Life is full of cycles. Every beginning represents an opportunity for change. I’m here in El Tránsito working with dedicated volunteers because I believe change is possible. I’m hopeful 2013 is the year to make it happen!