Founder’s Corner: Notes from Guatemala, Part III

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Our Founder & Executive Director, Linda Smith, is in Guatemala this week. She travels down there a few times every year and when she does, the stories she sends back are bound to inspire! While her schedule is jam packed meeting with staff and scholars and partner organizations, we’ll try to keep you up to speed with the best updates straight from Guatemala. Check back often for more from the Founder’s Corner.

From the Field Part 3

Reading Village Rockstars

Notes from Guatemala, by Linda Smith . September 22, 2013

“When we had the group of current Reading Village scholars gathered I asked them for changes they’d seen in the community. Laura said the children now have a love of reading. And I explained why that work is so important: ‘If you love something you do it more often, if you do it more often you do it better, if you do it better you love it more, and on and on the cycle goes.‘ It’s the foundation for all our work with the youngest children. Then Angelica said that the kids are asking for books, and that the scholars are responding by loaning them out from their personal Reading Village inventory! I asked for a show of hands how many teens were loaning out books and more than half had their hands in the air. So I talked about how important that was — they’re building on the the love of reading by offering access to books, in the same way that the library that they’ve opened does for the community at large. Then Mario shared that he saw the teacher of his kids’ class making materials that copied an activity that he had done the week prior. Reducing barriers to literacy AND inspiring literacy-based curriculum in the public school systems – our Reading Village scholars are really rockstars!” 

Building Leaders Who Build Libraries

Notes from Guatemala, by Linda Smith . September 22, 2013

“…Erick, the president of the youth library board said that kids were calling him, asking to use the library before they even had all the books in place, and the moment they opened the door there were 8 children waiting to get inside. They contacted a local organization to teach them library management and how to teach the kids how to use the library and care for the books. And they will be meeting withe the elementary school principal on Friday. Daniel, our Program Director, asked if they needed him at the meeting. Erick looked down and shuffled his feet a bit. ‘No‘, he said, ‘we don’t.’ He didn’t want to hurt Daniel’s feelings. But the two of us blurted out, ‘That’s better that you don’t need Daniel!! Don’t feel bad.‘” 

[Change in the scholars is perhaps the most impressive impact of our programs. When the teens start with Reading Village, they embody every indignity, passivity, and skepticism that has been impressed upon their people for generations. Over the course of the four years they participate in our program we literally witness a physical transformation. They stand straighter. Speak louder. They look us in the eye! Over the course of four years we watch these scholars literally blossom as they begin to realize their full potential. So proud that Erick has proved us all wrong, our class of current scholars just wouldn’t be the same without him!]

An Alumni Network Takes Shape

Notes from Guatemala, by Linda Smith . September 22, 2013

“Then Ismael, our Community Facilitator, and I met with the alumni in Concepcion. I asked them why an alumni network should exist and we agreed on five focus points: to say in touch with each other, to continue working with Reading Village, to continue improving the community, continuing education, recreation/social time. Needless to say, I was very impressed. It meant a lot to hear them say how much they missed each other. They only see each other in passing and have very little time. But they are willing to make this a priority in their lives, to make the time for it because it matters to them. Rosmery made a comment to the effect that they have learned so much via their experience with Reading Village (and Julio added, and now as professionals) that they would lose what they learned if they didn’t continue to put it into action. Laura said that they need to get more organized and take the lead in bettering their community. ‘It’s OUR community, after all,‘ she said.” 

[Reading Village prides itself on investing in a critical mass of teenagers in each community so that they become one another’s greatest resources for change. By growing deeply and strategically and by building relationships between program participants, we’ve been able to build connections across communities. This is perhaps one of the most powerful products of our program: strengthening a social network of indigenous communities so that collective resources can be mobilized for social transformation.]

Inspired to Invest in these teens? Please considering joining our Educators for Global Literacy Fund or make a one-time donation right now. Give Generously >>

3 thoughts on “Founder’s Corner: Notes from Guatemala, Part III

  1. Hello Dear Linda —
    Give Guatemala and every one of RV’s special people a huge love-filled hug.
    What you’ve shared here brings happy tears to my eyes.
    With love
    Sherri

  2. Isn’t it great having Linda in Guatemala sending us all these sweet stories?! Thanks for reading along, Sherri, we feel so grateful to have you as a partner in this work.

  3. Thanks, Sherri. Your comments mean a lot given your history with Reading Village, accompanying me here even before Reading Village was a fully-fledged idea.