Spring Computer Classes Announced!

new community computer roomHello all! Today I want to share some very exciting news with our community.

We’ve just finalized an incredible new program for our students in Guatemala, wherein we’ll be providing basic computer classes for all of the middle and high school students!

We’ve been very blessed to have recieved a grant from our Donor’s Choose project, which will allow us to purchase 5 used computers to bring to the center in Guatemala.

We are also accepting donations for additional old computers. While the computer may be used, we ask that it is not more than 6 years old, and runs on a Windows operating system. This will allow us to keep classes consistent for our students.

The New Computer Skills Program

Our new program is going to help teach our kids the basic skills necessary to work on a computer. We will offer different levels of classes, as some of the students have already had some basic introductions to computers, while others have not.

For the beginning level, classes will be on Excel and Word, and how to use these basic programs, with an eye towards how to apply them to a potential job in the future.

The more advanced classes will get into how the internet works, and students will learn basics of HTML and CSS through Code School.

These skills are in high demand worldwide, and we think that by exposing them at an early age, they’ll be a cut above others and will be able to get better jobs, as well as have a better chance of being admitted to a university where they can learn more and break out of the poverty-stricken communities in which they’ve grown up.

Our program leader is John Casey, a former Thinkful mentor, who has volunteered to create a similar curriculum for our kids. The most challenging part, he thinks, will be teaching the kids programming languages that are mostly English-based, when their English is still at a basic level.

You can read more about John’s work with these Thinkful reviews from CodingRookie.org.

New Program To Bring Audio Books for High School Students

This fall, we’re going to be launching a new initiative across a number of our projects.

Since we’ve been going back to the same communities for a number of years now, many of our students have had the opportunity to learn quite a bit of English, after working intensively with our volunteers and of course studying hard!

We know this is going to have a huge impact on them as these middle and high schoolers grow up and start to think about becoming the first members of their families to get a college education! English is a skill that certainly stands out!

In order to best prepare these students, we’ve designed a program to help them read some of the standard high school English works that they would read if they were students in the US.

The two works we’ve selected for this year’s program are The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, and The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck.

The Lord of the Flies

lord of flies imgThe Lord of the Flies was chosen because it is an example of a quintessential 20th Western novel, and is a great reading level for middle school or high school students. For many of our kids, this will be the first full length novel they’ve read in English (stepping it up from the short stories and magazine articles we usually work on through the programs).

Since this is the first large scale work they’ll be reading in English, we thought it would be good to gather donations of the book as well as supply every student with a copy of the Lord of The Flies audio.

This, we feel, will help them to assimilate the work a little more easily, as well as add an element of fun by having a native English accent to listen to as they read, helping their pronunciation!

The Grapes of Wrath

grapes of wrathThe second book we’re going to be working with, for the more advanced students who are getting ready to apply to universities in the next year or two, will be The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck.

This is a great novel, and we chose it because it gives huge insights into the trials that many in America went through during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

We feel that because this story tells the tale of a working class family struggling to find work, and overcoming adversity in order to thrive, it would be a good motivational message to send to the kids, that with hard work, perseverance, and a little bit of creativity and daring, they’ll be able to overcome any obstacle they’re presented with.

The hardest point about this novel will undoubtedly be the elements of American vernacular that are intertwined into some of the dialogue, but we’ll be there to help the kids through, and hopefully they’ll see the parallels between their hard work here in Guatemala and this classic Steinbeck work.

Again, we’re requestions donations of the book, or you can find The Grapes of Wrath audiobook download (courtesy of http://freeaudiobookguide.com) to supply as well.

Thanks so much for your support and we’re looking forward to kicking off this exciting new school year!

We’re Hiring a Volunteer Coordinator

guatemala kidsIn preparation for the upcoming school year, and what’s looking to be our most exciting and active year in history, both in terms of dollars already raised and volunteering hours committed, we’ve decided to hire a new role here at Guatemala Volunteers in Mission!

We’re looking for a new volunteer coordinator to help recruit volunteers and manage the volunteer programs we support.

Summary of the Position

The successful candidate will be working with our senior staff to oversee projects at more than 20 locations throughout Guatemala, with an emphasis on our projects in:

  • Panajachel, Lake Atitlan
  • Antigua
  • Guatemala City, and
  • Tikal

This promises to be a full time job, and is a perfect entry-level opportunity for someone looking to get into non-profit management and socially responsible tourism.

We lead over 100 groups every year to 24 different project sites throughout Guatemala, and this year have added our first “international” program partnership with a Spanish school in Medellin.

Your job will be to coordinate with all of our volunteers and donors, as well as to help plan and execute the trips. Some travel may be required.

Necessary Skills

The right person will have completed an undergraduate degree in any discipline from an accredited US or international university.

Conversational proficiency in Spanish is strongly preferred, at the Level 2 discipline according to the US Dept of State proficiency chart. While the majority of your work and interactions will occur with Americans coming on our trips through our volunteer ministry, some Spanish may be required as you coordinate details of the trips with our on the ground team in Guatemala, many of whom are Guatemalan citizens with modest English-speaking abilities.

You should be able to discuss basic things related to traveling and bringing a group of people to the area, for example:

  • Schedule times, dates, and activities
  • Plan housing for the group
  • Communicate any special needs, for example, dietary restrictions, of members in the group.

The location will be at our home office just outside Atlants, so the jobs in Dunwoody Georgia. See our listing on Juvo Jobs for more information.

Scholarships for Spanish and English Classes in Medellin Colombia

10374532_10152611698530819_3507406655969262905_nWe’re pleased to announce a new partnership program with Eco Hostel Medellin, a non-profit school and education center located just outside of Medellin, Colombia, in the Antioquian mountains.

Through this program, we’re pleased to be able to offer scholarships to learn Spanish in Medellin, as well as for clases de ingles en Medellin for Colombian locals.

Currently 10 children are able to stay in school thanks to VIM friends who send “scholarship” money for their school supplies (about $250 per year, per child, on average). Sometimes the school is “free” (grade school) but parents must buy uniforms, books, notebooks, pencils and other items specified by the school. The list grows longer and more costly as the child advances through the grades.

The school season is from January to October. Vacation time is: November and December. We are ready to receive contributions for next year.

Click here to learn more about planning a trip to Medellin.

Scholarship recipients for Language Classes in Medellin, Colombia

You many know of a particular child you would like to help by covering school supply costs for a year or more. Or you may prefer to make an undesignated gift to our “public school scholarship fund,” and we will select a recipient and send you his or her name and address if you request it. Of course you many also make a scholarship gift in any lesser amount.

This is truly an incredible opportunity for us to expand our program and become a fully international force for positive change in Latin America. We recognize that by mixing a tourist interest for visiting these wonderful countries with safe, structured courses to help learn about the local language and culture, we’ll be able to provide language classes for latinos in the community as well, with the aim of helping to raise the standard of education, and give our scholarship recipients a leg up that they otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to have.

For thousands of families in the region who don’t hold high school level education, knowing some English can truly make a huge impact in their lives, as they’ll be able to get more and better paying jobs than they otherwise would, and have more opportunities to advance themselves and their entire families through this program!

We’re pleased to support this Colombian initiaitve, and our looking forward to seeing the results coming out of Medellin!

The Guatemala Educational Volunteer Mission

The Volunteers in Mission (VIM) program is an initiative of the Guatemalan National Methodist Church offering opportunities for volunteers around the world. Since 1995 VIM has been hosting construction, educational and medical teams, providing an exciting experience of Guatemalan culture, hospitality and beauty.

guatemala vimAs VIM serves all areas of the country, its ministry is vital to the lives of thousands. During your visit you can not only provide structural or physical improvements but also assist the church in ministries of compassion and evangelism and gain an understanding of the global church.

VIM teams have worked in Guatemala since the 1980’s, after a relationship was established with the General Board of Global Ministries following the 1976 earthquake that brought relief efforts to Guatemala. Over the years many volunteers have formed lasting friendships with Guatemalan Methodists, and have extended their help into areas beyond construction and medical/health programs.

The staff of the VIM program is dedicated to designing an international experience to fit the varied needs of each team. Direct communication with the Guatemala VIM office has been made possible through email, fax and telephone, to ensure every detail is taken care of efficiently and effectively. Join us as we express Christian love in action!

Note: Anyone wishing to organize and bring an UMVIM mission team to Guatemala must submit an application to Guatemala VIM.