10 Years!

 

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Let’s travel in time to 2006 and land in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala.  I was a a twenty-something Peace Corps volunteer working in rural schools, bouncing in and out of classrooms modeling non-conventional teaching practices for rural school teachers.  In a wonderful twist of fate, in a town and country far away from our own native California, my life path crossed with Karen Hedrick, a soon to be retired school teacher from San Diego.

As Karen and I worked side by side for a week with elementary school children and teachers, we began to converse about our hopes and dreams for the future.  While our ages separated us by generations, our commonalities were plentiful.  We both shared a passion for education, culture, children and books.

Karen returned to California and I stayed in Guatemala, but our friendship and our love for books continued to grow.  As she was approaching retirement from teaching as I was transitioning from the Peace Corps. We joined forces to create the first public children’s library in Santiago Atitlan.  La Puerta Abierta (Open Door) Library was born!

As time passed, the library took on a life of it’s own.  We began with one small reading room in the center of town, with a part time local librarian and slowly transformed into a learning center.  We experimented with programs such as reading clubs, story hour, a traveling library, adult education, and early stimulation programs, most often with success, always with challenges, sometimes with mistakes we learned from.

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10 years later, I am inspired, amazed and enlightened by the tiny seed of a dream that Karen and I planted in Santiago Atitlan, a project that has blossomed into a self sustaining center. La Puerta Abierta will continue to need love, support and innovation as time passes. However, I also believe that our center is capable of functioning with minimal guidance from the outside.  Juanita, who began at our center as a fourteen year old scholarship student/volunteer is now the director of our school.  Candelaria mentors Natik scholars in our center on Sunday mornings and teaches first grade students to read at La Puerta Abierta throughout the week.  Isaias coordinates our traveling library program and visits 8 rural schools on a weekly basis.  In addition to teaching kindergarten, Chonita leads our mothers’ artisan co-op on Saturday mornings.  Ana runs our Mommy and Me class, and the list goes on.

Here’s to 10 years of creativity, critical thinking and literacy in Santiago Atitlan, and hoping for at least 10 more!

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Libros y mucha magia de amor

Today’s blog has been written by Isaias, our Traveling Librarian Coordinator.  

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La capacidad de leer no es un obstáculo, es una oportunidad sin límites de imaginación y creación.

Estamos felices de compartir con nuestros amigos con diferentes capacidades especiales. Nos llena de muchas experiencias y satisfacción al llevar la hora del cuento en la escuela de ADISA.

Una oportunidad de explorar, una oportunidad de vida, de magia y de mucho amor para armonizar con cuentos fantásticos y libros que nos llevan a otra dimensión.

En la hora del cuento cantamos con nuestros amigos y miraba en cada uno en sus ojos, llenos de mucha imaginación y diversas expresiones de paz y tranquilidad.

Tuvimos un día mágico, compartimos el cuento de “Donde Viven los Monstruos” de Maurice Sendak.

Nuestros amigos elaboraron sus monstruos imaginarios preguntándose de cómo se llamaría su monstruo.

Febe una hermosa amiga con Síndrome de Down, me expresa en voz bajita, “Profe yo pensé que los monstruos espantaban.  Ahora veo el de mis amigos y me da mucha risa, en realidad los monstruos no asustan.”

Son tan mágicos estos momentos y más con amigos que degustan de cada día un toque de lectura con mucha imaginación.

Así empezó la Biblioteca Móvil en la Escuela de ADISA., lleno de mucho cariño y muchos libros por compartir. Bienvenidos amigos!

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