Teaching in Nicaragua
When Stittsville resident Lisa Gerrard and her kids hopped on a plane in August, it wasn’t for a typical summer holiday. Lisa, a criminology professor at Algonquin College, and her children Avery Kit, 8, and Ryan Kit, 11, were teaching in Jinotega, Nicaragua. And they were volunteering with Outreach360. Located in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, Outreach360 is a non-profit grassroots organization that aims to educate children through English language instruction.
Back in February of 2014, Lisa volunteered with Outreach360 for the first time, leading 10 college students in the Dominican Republic. When she returned, she decided to take her kids along to volunteer in Nicaragua.
“I was hoping to gain some time with my children, as well as a new adventure; doing something different, pushing them outside of their comfort zone, and seeing the lessons that we could take home as a result,” she explains.
So from August 12 to 18, the Stittsville mom and her youngsters taught English immersion classes to 37 students from the German Pomares neighborhood in Jinotega. These students are enrolled in the Outreach360 Learning Center program, where they learn how to read, write, and speak in English.
Avery says it made her happy to see the Central American students learning and trying to speak in English. “I really did like the program,” she comments. “I really liked working with the kids.” Outreach360 welcomes volunteers like the Gerrard family to serve in impoverished areas in Latin America. The organization immerses family volunteers in cultural experiences unique to both the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
“I learned that no matter where you are from in the world, all kids are the same.”
Ryan Kit, 11.
Certainly, it was an educational experience for the local youngsters. “It’s inspiring to help other people,” Ryan says now, “because at the end of the day you feel good and they feel good too. I learned that no matter where you are from in the world, all kids are the same.”
It’s not every day, though, that youngsters get to do the instructing. With Outreach360, children teach alongside their parents to educate underserved students in Nicaraguan communities. It’s a unique opportunity that opens doors for families looking to spend quality time together.
“As a teacher, it was really neat to see my children teaching,” Lisa says. As a mom, she adds, it was also a chance to share a one-of-a-kind life experience, with no distractions. “At home we are so busy, riding off to football practice or wherever. With Outreach360, you are unplugged and it is just family time.”
See www.outreach360.org for details. ◆