Our program director in Peru, Ian McGroarty, was visiting his family a few weeks ago in the United States and came up to Toronto for 24 hours to attend our Board of Directors strategy session. We used his visit as an excuse to have an informal party for volunteers here so that they could hear first-hand, over a few pisco sours, what Alma is doing in Peru and Bolivia.
I get to see our projects, the teachers, parents, kids and perhaps best of all, Ian at work, when I am in Peru but for most of our Board and all of our volunteers, Ian’s accounting of just a few of our initiatives was “almost like being there”.
And what is being there like? It’s incredible! The intelligence, experience and love that is baked into every project comes through when he describes his work. He spoke mostly of our reading comprehension projects and the importance of critical thinking in determining real social change. He shared with us the creative ways in which we are teaching reading comprehension in the communities where we work. He also spoke of the need for better quality teachers and our new teacher training program. While Ian is writing the curriculum for this program himself he is getting advice and support from our Advisory Board. Ian will be leading the course but he has a variety of local educators who will teach (pro bono) specific themes based on their area of expertise.
At the Board strategy session, seeing pictures of the kids and hearing Ian explain how he is working with them motivated us to get through a heavy agenda and made us feel even more confident in our strategy.
Ian was in town for less than 24 hours but in that time he managed to transport a bunch of us from the cold of Toronto to the mountains of Peru.