Did you know that 95.4% of American households give to charity? Giving Tuesday is a movement that speaks to the generous nature of the nation. It is important to act locally to improve lives in our communities. We are also part of a global community, and we can make an impact there, too. Giving Tuesday 2016 falls on Dec. 1st. Contributing writer Eva Neisser Echenberg shares information about Juntos!
Eva Neisser Echenberg is a retired Spanish teacher, now a volunteer at Juntos! Eva believes that language learning should be interdisciplinary and speak to all students. To further that objective she writes thematic units, oral presentations, writing assignments, all content based, available in both virtual and print formats at Miraflores Editorial. She hopes that a positive view of the Other will be one of the lasting objectives of learning another language and culture. Spanish Playground thanks Eva for her contribution on Giving Tuesday.
Support Juntos! on Giving Tuesday
JUNTOS! is a Canadian NGO based in Cuernavaca, a city of over one million inhabitants an hour south of Mexico City. Our aim is to educate through computer literacy. We do not have a school; our teachers and the computers go to where the students live. We provide free instruction as well as high speed internet access in various outlying communities in municipal buildings such as the one below.
The mayors contribute the rooms free of charge for they too believe in education and know that computer literacy is an absolute must in the 21st century. Currently 9 communities benefit from the JUNTOS! learning experience with students attending either before or after school. In addition, thirty more mayors are on a waiting list to bring the JUNTOS! mobile learning program to their communities.
As you can see in the picture above, the first task is to set up. Here the older students help the teachers while the younger ones wait. JUNTOS! has a staff of five Mexicans tutors, all from the communities where the projects operate. Aside from being great teachers, some are graduates of the program and all serve as role models.
Some of our students are advanced, others, beginners. We have no age requirements and attendance is completely voluntary. Learning is individualized and every student works at his or her own pace and level. Each program has a series of worksheets. Upon completion of all the worksheets in a given program, the student moves to the next one. Some do not get further than Word, others become computer geeks that master Excel, Moviemaker, Photoshop and more.
One of our students, Ernesto, hopes to become a chef. In an ideal world he would like to be a doctor, but his parents don’t have the means. During the school year he works to pay his own expenses, and since he is very good in math, he has a job at Kumon, the world’s largest after school math and reading program. He got the job at Kumon about two years ago when he walked in to enroll. When the owner told him what the fees were, Ernesto explained that he could not afford them. Nevertheless the owner tested him and offered him a job on the spot.
Ernesto’s three siblings have all attended the JUNTOS! classes. In the picture his youngest sister, 12 year old Sandy Anahi, is seen working away. She seems as bright as he is and was totally oblivious that her picture was being taken.
In the picture below, Iris, one of the teachers, is helping a boy with reduced eyesight. Although he wears glasses, that day he had forgotten them. Instead of sending him home, Iris simply read out the assignment so he could continue learning.
Lacking basic facilities such as libraries, computers and individual attention in their public schools, these students spend up to 12 hours a week learning computer programs, oral and written communication skills and research tools. In addition, they use the web to complete their homework and school projects. The younger children have all discovered Internet games, the older ones, like teenagers the world over, texting, email and Facebook. But the classes are structured in such a way that before they can access these, they must show that they have completed their formal tasks.
One of the goals of JUNTOS! is to enable students to get and keep good jobs. To that end JUNTOS! provides courses on many software programs, but one that was lacking was web site creation. In order to bring this skill to our students, the five JUNTOS! teachers took a course on how to develop websites using Wix, a free platform. The next step will be to teach the students that attend the JUNTOS! classes how to do so. We hope creating and maintaining websites will provide jobs in the future.
Since the project began over 12 years ago we have witnessed many firsts:
- The first students to attend senior high school in their community.
- The first students to enter university.
- The first students to find full time employment in the formal economy.
Thanks to their computer training, specialized skills and confidence, the students attending the sessions excel in school. At present we have 400 students, 50 computers with access to high speed internet, and wonderful teachers/tutors that provide 18 sessions at 9 different locations.
Supporting Juntos on Giving Tuesday
Donate online: Visit Juntos!
Mail your donation (Make cheques payable to JUNTOS!):
572 Cote St Antoine Rd.,
Westmount,QC Canada H3Y 2K4
All money raised is spent in Mexico. All fundraising and administrative expenses are paid for by the Canadian board of directors who are all volunteers. Our cost per community for one year is around $7000.
Your support makes it all possible – thank you!
Two of our students, Robertito and his grandfather, Bernardino.