Summer Camp Success with the Rural Education Institute of Mexico
By Natalia Sudeyko
When you are an intern with a small but growing non-profit, you have to be a jack-of-all-trades. As a Programming Intern with the Rural Education Institute of Mexico, I have had the opportunity to teach English and music, conduct community-based research, translate websites, design posters, and raise funds. Now, I can also officially add, “camp counselor” and “expert friendship bracelet-maker” to my resumé.
In July and August, the Rural Education Institute of Mexico offered summer camps for children and youth in two rural communities outside of San Miguel. With help from dedicated volunteers and our much-appreciated drivers, we were able to spend two weeks each in the communities of Jalpa and La Palma, running both recreational and educational activities for children and youth aged six through sixteen.
These day camps were a huge success and a lot of fun for staff and volunteers as well as participants. Over thirty children and youth attended in Jalpa, and over forty came in La Palma. So many kids showed up that we even ran out of chairs, but the children were so eager to attend that they brought their own chairs and stools from home. Kids participated in a variety of activities, from soccer tournaments to scavenger hunts and from sing-alongs to art projects. In La Palma, the summer camp coincided with a harvest of radishes and beets from our little community garden, and in Jalpa, kids were thrilled about learning a few chords on the guitar. Many of these children and youth had not previously attended Rural Ed’s programs, but are now looking forward to returning in the fall. In fact, interest in our programs is so high that we are currently planning to expand to at least one new community in January 2015.
This is incredibly exciting, but sharing our programs with a new community does come with associated costs of approximately US$7,100. These funds help renovate a community center, stock a library with Spanish and English books, and equip a computer lab. The Rural Education Institute of Mexico is cur-rently running an Indiegogo campaign to help offset these costs. Our campaign can be found at http://igg.me/at/ruraled and contains more information about our programs and expansion goals. Please consider making a donation or sharing our campaign to social media; your support truly does make a difference in the lives of children and youth in rural communities.
As Mexico has become the second largest economy in Latin America, there remains a stark inequality in the country’s education system rural Mexico’s children simply do not have the same opportunities as their urban counterparts. The problem is partly financial (there are few high schools in the campo, and the government does not provide transportation for rural children to attend urban schools) and partly cultural (in rural areas, literacy is low, and education is not always a priority). The Rural Education Institute of Mexico exists to help fill this gap and to give rural children the incentive and means to go on to high school and beyond.
Our skilled volunteers travel and work in rural community centers, providing programs that introduce children to a world outside the campo. We build libraries and help children improve their reading. Children learn art, drama ,and English, among other subjects, and are taught to use computers that we supply. We also provide opportunities to children so they can meet the costs of going to high school, about US$300 per student per year, by awarding scholarships.
For more information about the Rural Education Institute of Mexico, please visit our website at www.ruraledinst.org or call us at 415-124-1357.