Home of the fish
This is a story about how the work of Peace Corps can inspire others to be change advocates in their community. Since the beginning of my service I have been working with my counterpart, Wilson Martinez in the local high school teaching Financial literacy to 10th grade and entrepreneurship through Construye Tus Sueños (Entrepreneurial curriculum) to 11th grade. The biggest challenge for Wilson and I was engaging the students during my sessions. While there were a few students in each grade who paid attention, many of them were more interested in causing distractions. Wilson has been very supportive in helping with classroom management and clarifying the information when the students did not understand. In August four 11th grade students Morelia, Mileydis, Camilo and Laura were selected to be the school's representatives at the Construye Tus Sueños Entrepreneurship Fair in Barranquilla. We met and agreed that it was time to begin preparation for the fair, I did not know the effect these students would have on the community and I.
In order to prepare for the fair these students met with me every other day for up to three hours until they had a poster prepared for their business idea Home of the Fish, which was tilapia production based on the skills they learned in their Articulación de la Media class. The students worked hard and were focused. On August 31st we went to Barranquilla and the students participated in the entrepreneurship fair. I was proud of what they had achieved and the way they presented themselves, the students told me they wished they had prepared more for the event. I told them it was all of our first experience with an event like this and they did great, receiving the honorable mention for best use of local assets. Wilson as well was very pleased with their performance. The Monday following the event, Wilson arranged for a socialization of the project where the four students had the opportunity to speak to their other teachers, and the students of grades 10 and 11 about their experiences. In front of the teachers, the students talked about how great the experience was, how it was an opportunity to interact with others from all over the coast. However, in front of their fellow students their tone changed, while they still talked about the great experience they had they also stressed that they did not feel as prepared as they could have been because they had not paid attention or worked as hard as they knew they could during our time together. They encourage their fellow 11th graders and the 10th graders to pay more attention to my sessions, because "She's trying really hard to make things better for us." They also offered to be mentors for the project in the upcoming year. It was a powerful moment of self-awareness for the students that left me feeling touched.
It has been a month since the socialization of Construye Tus Sueños and each of the classes that I have taught with 11th and 10th grades have felt more productive than the last. The students are more attentive and more engaged. I have also gotten more support from Wilson my counterpart in instructing the class and providing real life examples of the concepts they are learning. I credit this success to the testimonial of the four students who were able to provide an experience of how the work Peace Corps is doing can affect their lives long term and inspired the students to work harder.