From the shadow to the light

Spanish version below*

By: Silvia Leonor Álvarez Villa

At present, the volunteer in Colombia is not a life option, a reality which is changing today, thanks to various experiences that we can know offered by telecommunications, everything that has been hidden between the shadows is coming out to the light gradually. However, young people are empowered in their role in society, since they have changed the perspective of obtaining a profit from what the government can give, they are looking for alternatives to achieve their goals, respect and importance of the ecosystems, being aware of the birth control and to grow with other growth all its potential.


Today I am going to tell you a little about the volunteering that is done with the program PLAYLEE (Playing and Learning English), that I must say many young people are already part, where they turn a knowledge that they had into a useful tool and at the service of others. People are already thinking of stopping to be selfish and assumed as a collective, and why not, diffusing a knowledge that we are fortunate to have? It is no secret to anyone the importance of developing in a second language, and especially if it is English, and thanks to PLAYLEE we can teach this to many children in Colombia who for many reasons have not been able to have the opportunity to have an approach to it.

In this program the children can find an approach to the English language in a different way, focused on experiential didactics, the participants share different moments with the volunteers where they have fun, create, ask and learn. It is a cooperative work between volunteers and children in which they turn the classroom into an area of ​​learning to growth with various skills. With these we try to break the stigma of the difficulties to develop in a language that is not the mother language through a playful and constructivist pedagogy the child is getting new knowledge. On the other hand, it is an experience where everyone wins, children get bases to learn English, the community benefits from the opportunities provided and volunteers develop intra and interpersonal skills.

In my experience, in the short time I have been, it has already generated an impact on my life, which I hope to be transmitting to each of the readers of this article. This experience has marked me as a person when I see the smiles and listen the words of thanks from the children and parents with whom I have shared these wonderful moments, which have given me back in my self-esteem by making me feel better about myself, because I am doing a work of dedication to the community and that with this small action I am making a contribution  to the society in which I live. Also, I have strengthened my skills such as the ability to transmit my knowledge to other people, to attempt for others to understand my point of view and in that way teach them some new information, to achieve a goal with everyone’s effort through different competences. Recognizing each one without a particular benefit, having the possibility to shine in the good that you have to give, so that the leadership within the team is rotated, among other things.

In the other hand, like everything else in life, volunteering also has a doble face one that it is not that good, where despite the desire to carry out there are obstacles in between that prevent the development of It, and here I mention some to know and have a little more precision on this. Being a volunteer means that you donate your work time, your knowledge, without receiving any financial contribution, on the opposite, you must invest money in your transportation to the place and the time you dedicate to plan and execute each of the sessions. Also, wear to find a space that is appropriate for sessions with children, since they must safeguard their wellbeing and quality so that the work is effective. And, finally, the investment of each family, requires doing in each session, since it is a cooperative work, these must guarantee the fulfillment of the children that participate to be present all the sessions during the year, for this they must commit with the transportation of their children, send them a snack for their break they have, a contribution for the materials and implements that the sessions requires. So being a volunteer requires motivation and social commitment to deliver the best of themselves to a group of children that goes beyond knowledge, because these meetings provide values, creativity, empathy, time and feelings to create unforgettable moments in this first experience to a second language.

Notwithstanding being an exceptional opportunity there are many difficulties in this path, the most important and frequent is to find a place to do the sessions as the must of the doors to the spaces that work are closed. Also, the inconstancy of children’s attendance. Another, unfortunate, is the security of the integrity of the volunteers, since regardless of being providing a service for the community, they are often exposed to bad people and treatment, causing the programs to close.

Therefore, volunteering, as a way of contributing to society, requires effort, commitment and dedication so that the program is preserved over time. As well, offering different pedagogies that captivates children in the acquisition of English, which, although their families are aware of its importance, is still unfavorable to their learning. In addition, a space must be offered where children feel healthy, saved, loved and unique, where they understand the important work of volunteers within the gigantic social puzzle and it is a space that allows children to understand their active and universal role in his own life. With this and many more things I can overlook, it is what makes us proud to say that I am part of this great PLAYLEE family.

And, what are you waiting for? Only you are missing! … Start making your contribution and mark a change.

 

Spanish Version

DE LA SOMBRA A LA LUZ

Por: Silvia Leonor Álvarez Villa

 

En la actualidad colombiana el voluntariado no es una opción de vida, una realidad la cual hoy por hoy va cambiando, gracias a diversas experiencias que conocemos por la facilidad que ofrecen las comunicaciones, por lo que todo aquello que ha estado oculto entre las sombras sale a la luz poco a poco. Los jóvenes están empoderados y seguros de su rol en la sociedad, ya que han cambiado la perspectiva de obtener una ganancia de lo que el gobierno pueda dar, de buscar alternativas para alcanzar sus metas, del respeto por los ecosistemas, de tener conciencia en el control de la natalidad y de crecer con el otro desarrollando todas sus potencialidades.

Hoy les voy a relatar un poco sobre el voluntariado que se realiza con la Organización PLAYLEE (Playing and Learning English), de la cual muchos jóvenes ya hacen parte, donde convierten un conocimiento que se tiene en una herramienta útil y al servicio de otros. Muchos ya están pensando en dejar de ser egoístas y asumirse en colectivo, y ¿por qué no, transmitiendo un conocimiento que tenemos la fortuna de tener? Para nadie es un secreto la importancia de desenvolverse en una segunda lengua, y en especial si es el inglés, y gracias a PLAYLEE podemos transmitir esto a muchos niños en Colombia que por muchas razones no han podido tener la oportunidad de tener un acercamiento a ésta.

En este programa los niños pueden encontrar una aproximación a la lengua inglesa de una manera diferente, enfocados en una didáctica experiencial los participantes comparten diferentes momentos con los voluntarios donde se divierten, crean, preguntan y aprenden. Es un trabajo colaborativo entre voluntarios y niños en el cual convierten el aula en un área de aprendizajes para el desarrollo de diversas habilidades. Con esto se pretende romper el estigma de las dificultades a desenvolverse en un idioma que no es la lengua materna a través de una pedagogía lúdica y constructivista el niño va logrando nuevos conocimientos.  Por otro lado, es una experiencia donde todos ganan, los niños adquieren bases en la adquisición del inglés, la comunidad vinculada se beneficia con las oportunidades brindadas y los voluntarios desarrollan aptitudes intra e interpersonales. Para dar certeza de ello a continuación se mencionan algunos testimonios de voluntarios de PLAYLEE, los cuales comentan el impacto que han tenido en su vida:

Valentina Álvarez Villa “Actualmente soy estudiante de ingeniería y PLAYLEE en mi vida me ha enseñado a trabajar en equipo, a expresar mejor mis opiniones, a desarrollar la imaginación, a buscar diferentes alternativas para solucionar problemas. Habilidades como de transmitir el conocimiento, poderme comunicar con personas de diferentes grupos etarios, poder armonizar mi forma de ver el mundo con otros puntos de vista, entre otras cosas.  Competencias que muchas veces no se desarrollan en la Universidad, sino que se aprenden con la experiencia y son necesarias para trabajar en un ámbito multidisciplinario. En mi vida personal es un momento en el que me desconecto de todo y vuelvo a ser niña, porque llegan a mi recuerdo las remembranzas de cuando tenía esa edad. Me complace el hecho de saber que puedo cambiar la realidad de mí país, porque me han demostrado estas familias, que tienen grandes aspiraciones a futuro y ahora ven la posibilidad de hacerlas realidad. En el ámbito social, he conocido otros líderes de diferentes partes del país que me han enseñado otros proyectos y contado un poco de lo que en otras partes no nos enteramos. Se han expandido también mis redes de voluntariado para en caso de necesitar algo, contactarlos. He conocido personas de diferentes edades y carreras que me han enseñado a ser mejor persona.”

Javier Alejandro Alvarez Ardila “Cuando empecé a participar en PLAYLEE lo hice con gusto por lo que hacía, pero no seguro del impacto que este programa tendría en la comunidad. Iniciamos en el barrio Egipto, localidad La Candelaria en Bogotá. El barrio es desafortunadamente conocido como una de las “ollas” del centro de la ciudad por lo que sentíamos un poco de miedo. Con el pasar del tiempo, los padres de vez en cuando nos saludaban y decían frases como “gracias por su labor”, “mi niño(a) ha aprendido mucho con ustedes”. En ese momento me di cuenta de la gran labor que estábamos haciendo, sin importar que era un grupo pequeño de niños, a ellos les estaba cambiando la vida y eso cambió la mía. El siguiente PLAYLEE fue en una fundación en el norte de la ciudad y posteriormente en un colegio en Kennedy. En los tres lugares hemos recibido el mismo tipo de agradecimiento lo que evidencia que con cosas pequeñas se empieza a cambiar la realidad de otras personas”

Gustavo Eduardo Ávila Avellaneda “soy voluntario de la fundación Youth Colombian Leaders desde el año 2015, tiempo desde el cual he participado en diferentes ocasiones en la implementación y desarrollo del programa PLAYLEE, con el cual buscamos enseñar inglés a niños de escasos recursos de manera lúdica como lo es a través de juegos, canciones, manualidades, concursos, entre otras manifestaciones artísticas. El programa está enfocado para niños de entre 6 y 13 años, con el fin de brindarles un espacio no solo para el aprendizaje de una segunda lengua como el inglés en este caso, sino que también buscamos inculcar valores como el respeto, la responsabilidad, la honestidad, y potencializar sus habilidades de liderazgo. Sin embargo, desde pequeño he estado involucrado y he sido participe de diferentes actividades sociales y comunitarias. Para mí, el voluntariado es algo que me gusta muchísimo, me apasiona, es algo que me llena de vida. Esta bella labor me ha permito desarrollar y mejorar algunas habilidades, tales como la empatía, la tolerancia, la creatividad, el trabajo en grupo, pero en especial el liderazgo, lo cual considero muy importante para mí crecimiento personal y profesional, puesto que cada experiencia plantea nuevos retos, desafíos, y cosas por hacer y aportar.”

En cuanto a mí experiencia en el corto tiempo que llevo, ya ha generado impacto en mí vida, el cual espero estar transmitiendo a cada uno de los lectores de este artículo.  Esta experiencia me ha marcado como persona al ver las sonrisas y conocer las palabras de agradecimiento de los niños y padres de familia con los cuales he compartido estos maravillosos momentos, que me han retribuido en mi autoestima al hacer que me sienta mejor conmigo misma, ya que estoy haciendo una labor de entrega a la comunidad y que con esta pequeña acción estoy contribuyendo positivamente a la sociedad en la que vivo.  También, he fortalecido mis habilidades como la capacidad de transmitir mis conocimientos a otras personas, el de esforzarme para que los demás entiendan mi punto de vista y con ello enseñarles una información, el de conseguir un objetivo con el esfuerzo de todos a través de capacidades diferentes logrando el reconocimiento de cada uno sin las mezquindades de beneficios particulares, teniendo la posibilidad de sobresalir en lo bueno que tenga para dar, por lo que se hace rotativo el liderazgo dentro del equipo, entre otras cosas.

Pero como todo en la vida el voluntariado también tiene otra cara de la moneda, donde muchas veces así estén las ganas de llevarlo a cabo hay obstáculos de por medio que impiden el desarrollo del mismo y aquí les menciono algunos para que conozcan y tengan un poco más de claridad sobre esto.  Al ser un voluntario significa que donas tú tiempo de trabajo, tu conocimiento, sin recibir algún aporte económico, al contrario, debes invertir dinero en tus transportes para el desplazamiento y el tiempo que dedicas para planear y ejecutar cada una de las sesiones.   También, el desgaste para encontrar un espacio que sea adecuado para realizar las sesiones con los niños, ya que se debe salvaguardar el bienestar de ellos y la calidad para que sea efectivo el trabajo. Y, por último, la inversión de cada núcleo familiar requiere hacer en cada sesión, ya que es un trabajo conjunto, éstos deben garantizar el cumplimiento de los niños vinculados a que asistan a todas las sesiones durante el año, para ello deben comprometerse con el desplazamiento de sus hijos, enviarles un refrigerio para el descanso que se les da, colocar un aporte para los materiales e implementos que requiere el desarrollo de cada una de las sesiones.  Entonces el ser voluntario requiere motivación y compromiso social para entregar lo mejor de sí a un grupo de niños que va más allá de un conocimiento, porque en estos encuentros se aporta valores, creatividad, empatía, tiempo y sentimientos para lograr momentos inolvidables en esta primera experiencia a una segunda lengua.

A pesar de ser una oportunidad excepcional se encuentran muchas dificultades a su paso, la más importante y frecuente es encontrar lugares para realizar las sesiones ya que se cierran las puertas a los espacios.  También, la inconstancia de la asistencia de los niños.  Otra, desafortunada, es la seguridad de la integridad de los voluntarios, porque pese a estar brindando un servicio para la comunidad, muchas veces ellos se exponen a personas y tratos malos, causando el cierre de los programas.

Es así, que realizar Voluntariado, como forma de aportar a la sociedad, se requiere esfuerzo, compromiso y dedicación para que el programa se mantenga en el tiempo. Como también, ofrecer pedagogías diferentes que cautive a los niños en la adquisición del inglés, que, aunque sus familias son conscientes de su importancia todavía hay predisposición desfavorable a su aprendizaje.   Además, se debe ofrecer un espacio donde los niños se sientan sanos, salvos, queridos y únicos, donde comprenden la importante labor que cumplen los voluntarios dentro del inmenso rompecabezas social y es un espacio que les permite entender a los niños su papel activo y universal en su propio proyecto de vida.  Con esto y muchas cosas más que se me pueden escapar, es lo que nos enorgullece a cada uno decir que soy parte de esta gran familia PLAYLEE.

Y, ¿Qué estas esperando?, ¡Solo faltas tú!…Comienza a hacer tu aporte y marca un camino al cambio.

 

My first experience with a PLAYLEE Exercise

By: John Schoch

RPCV and member of Florida Partners

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During a visit to Bogota in October, 2015 at the invitation of Natalia Bernal (Youth Ambassador-2014) I accompanied the local Youth Colombian Leaders group to the first teaching/learning class (the start of a series to be done regularly over a period of months) that they were giving at the Centro Comunitario of the Alcaldia in the Candelaria. It was a wonderful experience; I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot about how PLAYLEE can work and be effective in helping young children (basically ages 8-12 from underprivileged families) to learn some English while having fun doing it. The critical focus seemed to be providing a fun and comfortable atmosphere for the kids so that they are stimulated and motivated by actively participating in group activities that involve learning, saying and repeating words and phrases in English.

The following discrete aspects of the participation process stood out for me:

  • Use of TV screen.
  • A lot of participatory physical movement (action)—e.g. musical chairs.
  • Use of blackboard.
  • Playing music and songs.
  • Use of games.
  • Teachers leading and interacting with children in singing of simple songs in English, with an emphasis on repetition—e.g. “Ride that pony”.
  • Getting everyone comfortable with the situation and the group—e.g. sitting in a circle on the floor and going around to each child in a question and answer format.
  • Teacher giving recognition and attention to each individual child.
  • All participating children get registered.
  • This was a morning session lasting about 2 hours.
  • Every member of the Youth Leaders teaching group participated under the guidance of Luisa Ramirez, who is a fluent speaker of English.

Of course, this was the first and only PLAYLEE session that I have observed so far. The children were enjoying the activities and actively verbally repeating the English words and phrases. To really have a significant impact in terms of learning English, these sessions, as planned, need to be held regularly over a period of months with the participation of pretty much the same group of children (each child needs to get as much exposure as possible to achieve a significant language-learning impact).

TO HONOR THEM – Volunteer teachers

Playlee, Bucaramanga

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This is the moment to honor our volunteer Jorge Mideros Arboleda, who belongs to the playlee’s family BUCARAMANGA

This space was created to appreciate and encourage our volunteer educators; here we honor those volunteers that with their dedication and sacrifice have become educational reference points.  For those that perform pedagogical acts visibly embodied in the proactive formation of sensitive and critical beings, capable of engaging constructively in their fulfillment and in the creation of a better world.

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  • Why did you become a volunteer?     

I became a volunteer because there’s one phrase that has been always present in my life: “Born to serve the others and you live to be happy”.

How did you get involve with the Playlee program?

I got involve the program when I heard about it from a friend, Fili. I was also working with children in another group of volunteers with other organization, so then I took the decision to start with Playlee as well, in order to reflect all the activities in Playlee with others communities.

How do you think Playlee impacts the beneficiaries’ communities?

I think the labor we do it’s very important to bring to the community the tools like English that probably they won’t find easy to afford.

11753391_10207106120906911_2060003114_oWhat is your vision about Playlee?

“Playlee” would have to continue expanding around the country, calling more and more volunteers who will be ready to give all for the less fortunate people.

How did Playlee started in Bucaramanga?

The start of Playlee in Bucaramanga was amazing, the children felt very excited and eager to learn. All the staff did it very well, the every two week plan has been very organized. I guess we will leave an important seed in those children.

What goals you expect to achieve with Playlee?

I expect that first we finish all the program correctly, that the children who have joined it get a significant advance and that I also learn something about those kids who can only offer love and happiness.

What goals have you achieved with Playlee?

This opportunity has brought to myself the reinforcement at the develop of values like kindness, happiness, service and responsibility.11760580_10207106122986963_1426455561_o

Do you have any Inspiring phrase that you would like to share with us?

Of Course, this phrase will always push me to be better and to act in the favor of the benefit of the world: “Born to serve the others and you live to be happy”.

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TO HONOR THEM – Volunteer teachers

Playlee Barranquilla

This is the moment to honor our volunteer Mayra, who, with her service makes PLAYLEE possible.

This space was created to appreciate and encourage our volunteer educators; here we honor those volunteers that with their dedication and sacrifice have become educational reference points.  For those that perform pedagogical acts visibly embodied in the proactive formation of sensitive and critical beings, capable of engaging constructively in their fulfillment and in the creation of a better world.

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  • Who is Mayra and why Mayra is a volunteer?

Mayra is a dreamer, really passionate girl who loves enjoying the things she does and working on being a better person every day. I love learning, writing, reading, dancing, now teaching and more than anything, sharing the best of me with others. I’m a Finance and International Relations student, 21 years old. I’m proud I’m in a special moment of my life where I’m a doer, making my dreams come true. PLAYLEE is one of them.

Why I’m a volunteer? First, it was something I always wanted to do. Second, I love the time I get to spend with my PLAYLEE kids. Third, I enjoy working and sharing wonderful experiences with my fellow volunteers.

  • How did you get involved with the PLAYLEE program?

I have to admit it was destiny. I was in the middle of my 8th semester at college and one day, I received a mail. It was an invitation for students who were participating in investigation groups and it was about a project called Red Caribe Gestores. This corporation is based on the mission of generating social change through civil participation and community work. First, we had some formative sessions and after that phase, we had to be involved with a foundation or social project in order to apply the knowledge we learned previously.  One of the options for us was PLAYLEE and after introducing ourselves to the different organizations working with Caribe Gestores, I was chosen by my tutor at the moment – Silvana Gómez, PLAYLEE Barranquilla Coordinator, now my friend and partner in this wonderful program. From day 1, I fell in love with PLAYLEE and I knew it would become a very special part of my life.

  • What do you like about being a volunteer?

What I like about being a volunteer is the fact that you do what you’re doing because you want to. There are no special conditions, no limits; it is a commitment that comes from the heart. You just want to give your best and contribute to society. Receiving grateful smiles is the best payment for this job. Another important thing for me is getting the chance to use my English skills for the good.

  • How do you think PLAYLEE impacts the beneficiaries’ communities?

It makes a great difference. It is a very complex environment where we are working on but it is the hope we bring to these group of kids that is essential for their expectations about future. We show them a new look, new situations, new perspectives from what they’re used to in their neighborhood. We show them there are multiple options in life if we learn, if we educate ourselves in order to achieve success and our personal dreams. Another important thing is promoting good relations between them inside and outside of class.

  • What goals have you achieved with PLAYLEE?

I wanted to be part of a great foundation and I made it. I wanted to work with kids in vulnerable communities and I got to work with a special group. I wanted to be out of my comfort zone and that’s what I’ve felt. I’ve always wanted to teach people and I’m giving my first steps every Saturday with PLAYLEE. I wanted to learn how a foundation is organized and I’m learning every time more and more. I wanted to take a step forward in social change, this program has been a game changer for me and I’m really thankful for that.

TO HONOR THEM – Volunteer teachers

Playlee Bogotá

This is the moment to honor our volunteers Javier Alejandro Alvarez y Natalia Perez Beltran, who, with their service make PLAYLEE possible.

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This space was created to appreciate and encourage our volunteer educators; here we honor those volunteers that with their dedication and sacrifice have become educational reference points.  For those that perform pedagogical acts visibly embodied in the proactive formation of sensitive and critical beings, capable of engaging constructively in their fulfillment and in the creation of a better world.

Two days before we traveled to the United States as Youth Ambassadors 2014, we had a meeting with some ex YA who told us about their experiences and what we were going to do in the US. They explained something very important, what Youth Colombian Leaders is about. They informed us about many projects which are develop by YCL. They talked especially about PLAYLEE and it was interesting for us. I did not think to be a PlayLee’s volunteer because obviously I just was thinking about our trip.

IMG_1909When I came back to Colombia, I started thinking of project I was going to make and I got many ideas so I began to work with a partner in a project which was about Down’s syndrome but we had to stop because it did not work. Then, when I started 11° grade I nominated myself to be the Students representant of my school. Natalia Perez did the same thing and one of her design was starting an English project. So, I told her that we could make a PlayLee in the school and she agreed with me. However, either of both was chosen by the student but even so we could start the project. The main reason why we decided to start PlayLee is because we think the English language is very important nowadays and there are people who cannot pay an English course and they really want to learn, In addition, PlayLee is a different way to learn. Perhaps children do not like to sit and write down what the teacher say, that’s why we guess PlayLee is a voluntary project as well as a game to learn a new language.IMG_1910

We hope creating an impact not only in our school but also in our community. We want that the children who participate in PlayLee learn English but we also want they learn different aspects of the life, even though we are young people, we can teach them such as values, why volunteering is very important or how we as new generation can change the world and turn it into a better place. There is a quote by Mahatma Gandhi which summarizes what we wish to do. ‘’ We must be the change we wish to see in the world’’. This is our purpose.

In order to accomplish this goal, we have made some activities such as participate in the Global Youth Service Day; we made our first class and we met with the children’s parents to tell them what PlayLee is. We think is very important because they were so happy and excited, it means that we have support in the school and in their homes too. It is a process which needs help of many people and, luckily, we have it.

We are really proud to be part of the PlayLee staff.

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