Thursday, July 12, 2012

Onwards and Upwards...

I am in love with my new job. I feel like I am helping people who need it and appreciate it. 

I am starting a marketing campaign to spread the word about our programme and how people here in Santiago can be a part of it. I will be distributing this letter to all my foreign friends, so I thought I would share it here too (and hopefully an update of my progress with time too....!)

Dear friends...

As most of you will already know I assumed the position of English coordinator in 3 schools at the start of June. I want to tell you a little more about the project and how you might be able to help.

The schools are part of a network of 8 subvencionado schools under the ownership of Canadilla. This means they receive money from the government and a small amount in the way of fees. The schools are situated in low socio-economic areas (Puente Alto, San Joaquin and San Miguel) and the typical student does not receive a lot of support from home. Many of the students come from difficult circumstances and this is reflected in their behaviour in the classroom and general attitude towards education. The schools that I work in are all technical schools, which have education from basic to high school level with many of the students specializing in a technical area (mechanics, electronics, secretarial, gastronomy, tourism) in their secondary years. While these schools also have the traditional humanity / science secondary education too, it is very rare for the students to continue on to university.

The project is to improve the level of English and motivation of the students to learn English throughout not only the school but also the wider community. For this we need help. We are under-resourced and short on time. There are up to 45 students in a class, with tired teachers who have been fighting the same system and teaching the same thing for 30 years. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either. These kids are really interested in foreigners and every time I enter a class they are asking where I’m from and why I am there. I teach a workshop of 16 year olds. The first class they mostly just looked at me slightly amused at my antics and continued with their conversations in Spanish. Now they arrive early, attempt to speak English in class and I have to kick them out of the classroom at the end. They sing, they dance, they speak English and they know that my classroom is a safe place.

If you have ever wondered what the reality of the Chilean school system is like, or why they are marching in the streets, I invite you to come and see my schools. You can come anytime and accompany one of the English teachers or myself. If this sounds like too much commitment I ask for only one day. In October we are running an English day in each of the three schools, and we want to get a big contingent of foreigners there. Spread the word. There will be a karaoke competition, music presentations, typical food, information about scholarships and study options, but most importantly foreigners. People who can provide insight into other cultures around the world, people who can inspire. These kids don’t think they are important, and we want to show them that every kid is important, and that the way out of their present reality is education.

A little positively goes a long way and costs us only our time. Please get in touch if you are interested in helping out, and feel free to pass this message on to others that might be willing to gift us some of their time.

Kind regards,
Karen Tait
English Coordinator

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