AMIGOS OF THE WEEK ~ 2016 Summer Volunteers

Each summer, we are blessed to have a group of volunteers from the U.S. join us for 4-8 weeks to teach in the 'esceulita' (summer camp) program at the Amigos school. 'Escuelita' began in 2014 as a way for our kids keep learning English during the summer months and to give our 'padrinos' (Honduran caretakers) a well-deserved break during the day when school isn't in session.

Most of our 'escuelita' volunteers are in college and come to us on their summer vacation, but we have had volunteers of all ages over 18! The 'escuelita' program continues to grow each year, and the kids have come to look forward to the special games and extracurricular activities that now come with summer vacation. This year, 'escuelita' will offer the kids music classes, art classes, science classes, computer lessons, swim lessons (at the home of a neighbor family, who is generously allowing us to use their in-ground pool), and many more camp activities.

We are excited to welcome this year's group of summer volunteers, who arrived at Amigos on June 22nd and will be with us until the middle of August. Bienvenidos a la familia de Amigos de Jesús!

If you are interested in becoming a summer volunteer for 2017, click here.

Amelia Sierra, 23
Hometown: Amory, MS
University: Mississippi State University
Graduated in May with a major in educational psychology, and a double minor in psychology and international studies
Escuelita role: Co-leader of Escuelita and music teacher

Lissa Jiménez, 22
Hometown: Peabody, MA
University: Saint Anselm College
Graduated in May with a double major in psychology and Spanish
Escuelita role: Co-leader of Escuelita and music teacher

Amy Atwell, 20
Hometown: Westchester, PA
University: University of South Carolina
Junior studying global development
Escuelita role: 1st grade teacher

Sarah Bisel, 19 Hometown: Duluth, MN University: Minneapolis Community and Technical College Graduated in May with an Associate in Arts degree Escuelita role: 2nd/3rd grade teacher

Sarah Bisel, 19
Hometown: Duluth, MN
University: Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Graduated in May with an Associate in Arts degree
Escuelita role: 2nd/3rd grade teacher

Olivia DeSena, 21 Hometown: Cornelius, NC University: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Graduated in May with a major in physical therapy Escuelita role: 2nd/3rd grade teacher

Olivia DeSena, 21
Hometown: Cornelius, NC
University: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Graduated in May with a major in physical therapy
Escuelita role: 2nd/3rd grade teacher

Jordyn Spry, 19 Hometown: Duluth, MN University: Creighton University Sophomore studying nursing Escuelita role: 4th/5th grade teacher

Jordyn Spry, 19
Hometown: Duluth, MN
University: Creighton University
Sophomore studying nursing
Escuelita role: 4th/5th grade teacher

Isabel Nardi, 20
Hometown: Havertown, PA
University: Temple University
Sophomore studying human development and community engagement
Escuelita role: 4th/5th grade teacher

Conor Gallagher, 22 Hometown: Newton Square, PA University: Boston College Graduated in May in business management with a concentration in accounting Escuelita role: 4th/5th grade teacher

Conor Gallagher, 22
Hometown: Newton Square, PA
University: Boston College
Graduated in May in business management with a concentration in accounting
Escuelita role: 4th/5th grade teacher

Hannah Power, 21 Hometown: Phoenixville, PA University: Villanova University Graduated in May with a major in civil engineering Escuelita role: Science teacher

Hannah Power, 21
Hometown: Phoenixville, PA
University: Villanova University
Graduated in May with a major in civil engineering
Escuelita role: Science teacher

Tucker Davey, 22 Hometown: Avon, CT University: Boston College Graduated in May with a major in political science, and a double minor in philosophy and Spanish Escuelita role: Arts & crafts teacher

Tucker Davey, 22
Hometown: Avon, CT
University: Boston College
Graduated in May with a major in political science, and a double minor in philosophy and Spanish
Escuelita role: Arts & crafts teacher

Mary Grove, 52
Hometown: Granger, IN
Mary is the mother of Keri Grove, 2015-16 year-long volunteer.
Escuelita role: Swim instructor

An interview with...Amelia and Lissa
(Co-Leaders of Escuelita 2016)

1. How did you first hear about Amigos?
Amelia: The Catholic Volunteer Network website! I went and filled out a questionnaire very ambiguously, stating I'd go to any country for any amount of time and that I did speak Spanish, but was very willing to learn a new language - and Amigos was my #1 match!

Lissa: I found out through one of my professors. My college is big on volunteering and Amy (Amy Escoto, Operations Director), graduated from there, so she is well-known and still keeps in contact with many professors there.

2. You were both Escuelita volunteers last year. What made you want to return for a second year?
Lissa: I had an amazing experience last summer and made great connections with many of the kids. As soon as I left last summer, I knew I had to come back. I love it here.

Amelia: I emailed Amy Escoto probably about 2-3 weeks after I left last summer and told her that if there was anything I could do during any of my vacations that I would love to come back and serve them somehow. I got to come back over Christmas break and sub for one of the year-long volunteers, and being back just solidified my idea of coming back for a second summer.

3. What is your favorite part of being a summer volunteer?
Amelia: Last year, my favorite part was just getting to know the kids and feeling like I was able to use my education and personality in a way that I had never been able to in the U.S. before. But this year, my favorite part is definitely just getting to delve deeper into relationships I've established here, both with kids and staff, and to be on the co-leader side of things and learn about just how much work everyone puts in here and how many moving parts there really are. That's been so cool to be a part of and I'm learning so much every day. There's really such an incredible labor of love here and I am so blessed to be a part of it, even for just this short time.

Lissa: I like that I get to spend time with the kids both at school and outside of school. I have learned and continue to learn so much from all of the kids, just from being around them. They are all amazing.

4. What is your favorite memory from your time at Amigos de Jesús?
Lissa: Last summer, the day we arrived, we were assigned an 'hogar' (dorm room) in which to eat dinner. Jake, one of the volunteers from last summer, and I were assigned to Hogar 5 and we were confused by a white block that appeared on our dinner plates. We thought it might be cheese, but it didn't look like any type of cheese we had ever seen before. Since it was our first day, of course, we were nervous and felt awkward, so we sat and whispered to each other in English about the food on our plate. One of the younger boys, knowing more English than we thought, looked over at Jake and I, gave us big smile, and said "that is cheese." Jake and I immediately laughed. That boy was one of the kids we built a strong friendship with throughout the summer, and still this summer I am close with him. Just a few days ago, we were talking and retelling this story, and he says he still remembers that he thought Jake and I were silly because we didn't know what cheese was.

Amelia: Ugh, what is this question! I have way too many memories here, and everyday brings a new one. For right now though, I'd have to say my favorite thing that has just happened was actually with one of our new summer volunteers. We had only briefly touched on the fact that at the school the kids have to ask their teachers for toilet paper when they go to the bathroom because the toilet paper is kept in class and not in the bathrooms. Lisa and I had only barely mentioned it and didn't think twice about it until one of the new volunteers told us in our afternoon meeting that a little boy in her class (6 years old) had asked to go to the bathroom and when he asked for 'papel' (paper) she absentmindedly handed him an index card, thinking he was requesting some sort of hall pass and told him to make it snappy. She said she didn't realize what he meant until the next child asked to go to the bathroom and actually walked over and got a piece of toilet paper for himself before walking out. So a little boy this morning went to the bathroom with an index card instead of a piece of toilet paper and I have no idea what happened after that except that I honestly don't think I will ever stop laughing.