jueves, 19 de septiembre de 2013

End of Summer Camp & Scholarships for the New School Year

On August 2nd, we finished our third annual English immersion summer camp here in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. It lasted 6 weeks and this summer 55 campers participated! We added a new group for youth ages 15 to early 20s. We had cut off campers at 14 in the past, but there was an overwhelming interest of this group, so we added the group and called them Watermelons, in addition to our other 5 fruit groups.

We continued with the four stations - Story, Arts & Crafts, Songs, and Active Games. 10 volunteers, all from the US, ran the camp, in collaboration with our Haitian teachers. 5 counselors were here throughout the entire summer, which created lots of consistency, and 3 counselors were returners from last year, which strengthened our program as well.

Also, as a surprise to all of us, we moved into a new and improved building on our last week, complete with a playground!

After camp, it was time to prepare for the start of the school year. We continued our three scholarships from last year. Freddy Jean Piet enters into his second year studying Modern Languages at the University of OyM. Eriverto Osvaldo has moved onto 6th grade at Sueno de Los Ninos private school. And Miguelina Joseph graduated from 7th grade at Sueno de Los Ninos, so she moved onto a new school for 8th grade and then high school. This school, Santa Rosa de la Lima, is one of the best private schools in the city, and we are proud that she is able to attend. She is loving it so far!

Oh, I almost forgot, there was a special scholarship set up this year for Eriverto's younger sister Aniverca who has cerebral palsy and has never gone to school before this year, just one summer of summer camp. She was registered in 1st grade at Sueno de Los Ninos, but unfortunately, the teacher was unable to continue with her integrated into the class, although they do have one student with cerebral palsy, but he appears to be more accustomed to going to school and working in a classroom. So the plan is to attempt to place her in a special education school, at least for a few years, if the special scholarship continues, and then attempt to integrate her again.

Thank you for your continued support! Together, we are truly changing lives and working for a better future.

sábado, 27 de julio de 2013

Change My Stars - Week 5

Change My Stars - Week 5 

The weeks are winding down and the kids have progressed so much. They have learned many english words and some great life skills. They have developed more into mature people that treat each other with respect as well as themselves. I have noticed through the weeks that their dreams for themselves are higher and their determination to make the dreams become a reality have deepened. One sweet girl, Jenny, told us she wants to be a doctor, with her studying skills and determination I believe she can do that! 
Week five's theme was my world, my community. We wanted to include how we should take care of our environment as well as our bodies by good hygiene. We had a hand washing station and also informed the children on where garbage should go. Because we changed the routine of things many of the children didn't know what was going on, so the first two days of camp went a little rough. After we had a meeting with Caitlin everything was smoothed out and we were able to teach english in addition to sharing knowledge of how to keep our world clean and safe. 
I was so proud of the little guys, some of the volunteers thought they would have been too young to understand the lessons about hygiene, but we taught them and they responded with enthusiasm. I was surprised after asking the little ones, why we should was our hands frequently, one girl, Esmiley, said because she doesn't want to get "gripa" or a cold.  Now after the first two sessions of the day everyone washes their hands and then has a snack. 
Overall, this week was great. The kids really responded well to the new lessons we added and now work together to keep the area around them clean. With  the lesson of washing hands and picking up trash alone, it will cut down the risk of people getting sick or spreading germs. 

lunes, 22 de julio de 2013

Week Four - Animals

This week in camp we focused on animals, the places they live and other related vocabulary.  We also talked a lot about pronouns.  It was great to see how many of the students were using the following pronouns correctly by the end of the week:  he, she, it, I, and, they.  We used some dialogue to practice English pronunciation.  Additionally, the students in the oldest group stood up in front of the class and were able to introduce themselves in English. 

Also, we were excited to welcome a new volunteer to camp this week, Elba.  Elba suggested we work a little on empowering the students by teaching them phrases like, “I am intelligent,” “I am strong,” “I can change my stars.”  It was so exciting to see, on Wednesday, the youngest groups of students shouting these empowering statements really loud (the entire neighborhood could probably hear them). 

We want these beautiful children to know that they are smart and capable enough to change their stars. I think we all concluded that, the children need know where they came from and what a strong group people, in order to go even further in making something for themselves. So some of the class time has been used to teach such moving Haitian history. 

We are all looking forward to welcoming EM and Jamira to camp next week and seeing what amazing things the students learn this upcoming week!

sábado, 6 de julio de 2013

Week 2 - Classroom

Change My Stars... Week 2

Week two has come to a close and it was such a positive move forward. This week's theme was the classroom and all the items found in a classroom. Unfortunately, one of our volunteers, Chloe, became sick with Dengue fever, but praise God is good to go for next week. Fortunately, Cole a returning, AMAZING, volunteer came just in time and has been a great addition with her many skills. Through the small changes the kids stayed focused and learned many of the vocabulary words. This week was fun to teach because the vocabulary words were being put to use every day. "Hand me the scissors, please." "Glue this together" These words were learned quickly because the children were hearing the word, seeing it written out, and using each item.

The favorite game this week was "Rock, Paper, Scissors." It was such an easy game to teach and a huge hit! Plus, the game pushed the kids to say a couple of the vocabulary words and in turn learn them. This week was also filled with really great crafts! The first craft was having the kids make name tags with paper, markers, glitter, and glue, they were able to get really creative and learn the English words at the same time. Another really fun craft was finger puppets, we did this to review week one. Each camper made their family out of paper and glued it all on popsicle sticks, they were so cute! Finally, the last day we made books of all the vocab, each camper wrote the word and then made an illustration for the word. The younger kids were a little confused but the books still came out really great and were a fun keepsake!

This week was a blast, there is such a great bond between the teachers and campers. We really try and focus on loving each kid and showing them we care, it is something that will go even farther then any vocabulary word they might learn. The campers are so bright and are so eager to learn! Its so encouraging to know that the kids see the value of coming everyday and learning a new language that will give them the advantage to do something great, to be someone even greater than they already are.

sábado, 29 de junio de 2013

Summer Camp 2013

Change My Stars... Week 1 Hello, my name is Evelyn Bower. I am one of the volunteers this summer and will be updating the blog. I hope you enjoy what you read... :)

 I have never realized the amount of opportunity America hands it's people from education, to career, and finally the many ways to come out of the poor circumstances some Americans were born into, until I set foot in Munõz, Dominican Republic. The small community I live in is full of Haitian people who live in this endless cycle of poverty. With an education that doesn't go past 6th grade and the divide between two classes, there is no hope until someone from the outside comes like Project Esperanza, Change My Stars (Cambia Mis Estrellas) English School. I have never been more proud or excited to bring the hope I have learned to these people through teaching English, in this six week camp. We have the blessing of being a part of changing the path these kids can take, giving them hope for a better future! How awesome!!!

 Yesterday was the end of week one, which went well! Each week has a theme, this week was family and body parts. We taught the children songs, crafts, stories, and games that relate to the vocabulary. The children's favorite song was, "The Family Finger Song." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8anh48PfkQ These sweet kids loved "Simon Says," this also taught them the body parts. Arts and Crafts showed all the volunteers how creative these kids are, how happy they can be with simple things like a piece of paper and crayons can make them. The beauty of simplicity is overwhelming here.

 I believe the first week went as well as it could have. The first couple days were a little rocky because there were so many students and few volunteers (IF YOU WANT TO HELP GO TO: www.esperanzameanshope.org/ ). So the next three days we tweaked the way we were doing things, focused more on one volunteer for one group, instead of groups switching from one volunteer to the next - it was like night and day. At the end of each day we ask the students what they learned that day, the difference between what the students learned on Day 1&2 to Day 3-5 was great. I am proud of the things we accomplished the first week and it will only get better from here. These kids are great and are so amazingly smart! Stay tuned for next week's post.

domingo, 23 de junio de 2013

Summer English Camp Starts Tomorrow!!

Summer camp t-shirt design. T-shirts donated by Atlanta printing company owned by the husband of one volunteer.

Summer camp starts tomorrow, Monday, June 24th, but in a different area of town than in the past two years. We are running the camp in our grassroots school in the community of Padre Granero. The camp will run until Friday, Aug. 2nd.

In the past years, we charged a fee for sponsored campers or registered campers to attend camp. We mainly did this because the building we rented was quite expensive, to cover transportation, as well as other odds and ends. This year, since we are doing the camp in an already existing school building, we are not charging the camp fee, but the biggest expense we have to cover is the transportation. It comes out to about $8 per week, per camper. We will bus in 5 campers from the community of Los Dominguez (Eriverto, Miguelina, Milena, Enelbi, and Miguel Angel), and 5 campers from our grassroots school in Muñoz, who will ride with the volunteers each morning. If you are a native English speaker in the Puerto Plata area and would like to help out with camp this summer, please e-mail cambia.mis.estrellas@gmail.com.

We want to invite you to sponsor one of these campers for their six weeks at camp, or to make a donation to the Change My Stars fund in general, which will go toward summer camp or toward the scholarship funds which are ongoing. Stay tuned for weekly updates and pictures!

sábado, 11 de mayo de 2013

A Note from Fefe

Here is a note from Freddy Jean Piet (Fefe) who is attending the university of OyM and studying Modern Languages on a Change My Stars scholarship. He has done exceptionally well so far, just finishing his second cycle where he received all A's and one C (the grading system is the same as in the US). He plans to argue the C because he lost many points on a group project where his group members did not include his student ID number when they turned in the project, although he did participate. Here is a note that he wrote in the English he is learning and a photo:

Hi to everybody: 

Ok, I feel very happy to write this letter in memory of everyone who is supporting me. In this cycle I had good notes and an excellent year. I want God to bless everyone and thanks for all! 


I also want to announce that a laptop was donated to help him with his studies as well, which he says is very useful! Thank you to everyone who has supported and continues to support!

viernes, 10 de mayo de 2013


Hello Volunteers, Supporters, & Followers! 

We have to announce (although late) that we have shut down the English immersion pre-school and other English education activities that took place in the house on the street 12 de Julio in Puerto Plata. We still have the scholarship program with three students on scholarship. We created this English immersion education program in order to more practically engage foreign volunteers and also to respond to the requests of the general Puerto Plata community who had asked for English lessons from native English speakers throughout the years.

The decision to shut down was based on the lack of local registrations and the high costs of the building we were renting. If we have the opportunity to start this program up again in the future, we will do so in a different part of town with a different approach, and building on top of relationships we have formed and lessons learned throughout this effort. Thank you to those of you who have sponsored a camper, a pre-school student, volunteered, or taught. It has been a blast and hopefully we can start it up again someday! In the meantime, we'll continue with the scholarships. If anyone takes special interest in the English immersion pre-school and would like to dedicate resources toward a wiser and stronger re-start, please write to us at cambia.mis.estrellas@gmail.com.

I never did post the family photo of the boy who was sponsored to go to pre-school. Although the school year ended early for him, he learned and grew so much during the months he attended pre-school! Here is Pedro (Alamson) Toussaint and his mother Etienne.

Lastly, a special thank you to Julienne, Hannah, and Mary Ellen who came and taught in the pre-school this year, as well as Nicole who volunteered with the club, and of course everyone who helped out wtih the summer camp! We will do the English camp this summer but in the grassroots school in Padre Granero. We'll continue to post about scholarships.

lunes, 28 de enero de 2013

Introducing: Mary Ellen

Hello Everyone!

My name is Mary Ellen and I am the new teacher at Cambia Mis Estrellas! I've been here two weeks now and I'm really excited to be playing games, singing songs and watching the students learn and grow! (Learning goal for this week: teach one of our kids that not all colors are pink...something he is completely convinced of.)

Let me tell you a bit about myself.

This is me. I am from the United States. 

I taught English as a volunteer in Peru two years ago. 

Last semester I was in the country of Georgia (it's in between Russia and Turkey) teaching English in an elementary school. 

Some of my Georgian students!

The Georgian language looks like this-  როგორ ხარ? 
(that says "how are you?") 

I went from the snow and mountains of Eastern Europe -

to the beaches of the Caribbean! 

With only a week stopover in the States in between. Talk about some culture shock!

I'm pumped to be soaking up the sun, improving my Spanish, 
and especially hanging out with some fabulous little ones! 

Check out a version of Musical Chairs I introduced this past week: 

(Or click here)

Follow the blog (or like us on facebook) for the continuing adventures!