As the school year comes to a close in Peru and Bolivia, we hold our “Achievement Day” assemblies with parents, teachers, and children in all of the communities we work in. The children present the processes and products of their projects during the year, the parents challenge their children to explain and show what they’ve learned, the Alma teacher reviews the student portfolios and learning goals/ strategies for vacation, and we all share a meal together before we break for school vacations. It is a fun and consolidating day, where together we review what we’ve done and where we want to go.
I was in the Huadhua achievement day recently and I was especially stuck as I watched two fourth graders, Dina and Linda, discuss their thought processes and results from their honorable eco-garden project. They were confident and excited during their presentations just like their fellow classmates, but what struck me was much simpler- yet profound. They had grown so much!
When we began working in Huadhua, Dina and Linda, were both in pre-school, but came to our project everyday despite that it is for primary schoolers. When I would visit they would always beg me to throw them in the air or play any assortment of games with them; and though it was a distraction from whatever they were supposed to be doing, they were always able to convince me!
Seeing them now finishing up their second-to-last year of primary school, I am grateful once again for the tremendous opportunity Alma has given all of us involved. Outside of the academics, project indicators, and proofs of concept, what Alma opens is a space for connection. I still have a picture Linda drew for me when she was a preschooler (and I remind her of it all the time), and I look forward to continue watching her and Dina stretch themselves more every year.