Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Feliz Año Nuevo!

Happy New Year family and friends! Laura and I both enjoyed a wonderful Christmas season with our families, and are now back in Batahola Norte working on preparations for the English program, researching small business start-up, and putting together proposals for the volunteer program. Our time spent at home was full of family, friends, and a good deal of fund raising and flashcard making for the English program. My Christmas was especially exciting seeing as I got to meet my new nephew - Patrick! I spent lots of time playing train with my other nephew Elijah, going to the park, and avoiding dirty diapers. All in all, my vacation was a time of relaxation and rejuvenation, enjoying the company of many of the people I love.

In the beginning of January I made a trip up to Pennsgrove, NJ to give a presentation to the Pennsgrove Rotary Club about the Centro Cultural and the new English program. We shared a great lunch, good conversation, and I think we are all excited to have met each other and formed a connection. Thank you Pennsgrove for your support and hospitality!!

The Centro Cultural is currently in the middle of matriculas, or class registration. New and returned students are coming everyday to learn about the classes being offered. We've already had a lot of people come asking about the English program. Laura and I will be co-teaching a class of 20-25 students for two hours every Monday-Thursday evening. We're in the process of working on our lesson plans and visuals, and are excited to meet our students in a few weeks! The class is open to anyone 15 years and up, and will be catered to people interested in learning English for professional purposes. Unemployment and underemployment are high in Managua, and good jobs can be difficult to find. English is a huge asset to being able to find a good job, with many businesses now requiring basic knowledge. Unfortunately most language schools are very expensive, so many of the people who would benefit from learning English, can't. The Centro Cultural is excited to be offering our class at a low rate, giving many people who wouldn't normally be able to learn English the chance to do so. They're able to offer the class inexpensively due to the fact that Laura and I are volunteer teachers and due to the generosity of our donors who are helping us buy books, dictionaries, etc. Laura and I are excited to finally be able to put our TEFL Certification to good use!

Aside from the English program preparations, I'm also working on a series of interviews concerning small business start-up. The Centro Cultural offered a class last year to 34 people (33 were women) interested in starting their own business. We're in the process of interviewing these participants to see how their projects/plans are coming and any problems they have run into along the way. After compiling all their answers, the hope is that we'll be able to find ways we can improve the course for the next group. It has been an interesting and valuable process for me to be able to meet so many new and motivated people and learn about the struggles small businesses face. Not surprisingly, money and being able to take out loans is a big hurdle for many.

I'm excited to meet with the women's quilting group this coming Monday. They've been working on lots of projects over break, so be expecting pictures in my next update! Thanks so much for reading, and for your support! Sending much love to all,
Christine

3 comments:

maria elena dame said...

Hola: Wonderful updates on your blogs for this month. Thanks for all the energy you put into the work. I can FEEL your dedication in your words/descriptions of your work. Go well. May it be a spendid year. The piece on Angel was quite touching; still feel his loss. Much love, Maria Elena D.

Steve said...

Love the picture of Elijah and Patrick though I may be a little biased. Sounds like you are doing great work. Thanks for posting the info so we can get updates. You are in our prayers

Barbara said...

The slide show is wonderful, and there is so much indepth info it is hard to take it all in. Our condolences on the death of your friend. Continued prayers for all at the Batahola Norte.