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Learning while Teaching – Experiences of 2 Volunteers in EI

August 10, 2010

Sara Lichter, a photography producer, and Robert Caruso, an editorial photographer, visited Empowerment International this June. Sara and Robert are from Toronto and they volunteered to teach our photography kids.

Here they share their experiences while in Nicaragua with us – Photography students

“Nicaragua is like no other country we have ever visited; the people  are warm and the landscape is beautiful, but the challenges are many.

The first thing that hit us as we drove through heavy downpour from Managua to Granada on the night of our arrival in Nicaragua, was that this was neither going to be an ordinary nor an easy experience.

Of course, as two English speaking climate and culture-shocked Canadians, we were nervous the first day as we walked to the Empowerment International office to meet the 10 children who had signed up to take a week long photography course with us.

We had thought that we were heading into the office too early that morning, but many of the children were already waiting for us there when we arrived, and they were eager to get started. They greeted us with big smiles, plenty of curiosity, and an instant desire to get involved in helping us set up in any way that they could.

They lent a hand in setting up a workroom for us and we could feel the level of excitement in the room mounting as we unpacked the new cameras that had been donated to the program by our friends and colleagues in Canada. All of the students were eager to have a chance to examine the new digital cameras they would soon have the chance to use.

Throughout the week-long course we had the opportunity to see Granada through the eyes of the students as we accompanied them to various sites around the city armed with cameras and eager to shoot. We were impressed to see the skills the students possessed, and marveled at how quickly they caught on to the new concepts we were teaching them.

All of the students shot with confidence, unafraid to try the new techniques they were learning, and the beautiful images they began to capture reflected this instantly.

As the days wore on our nerves calmed as we learned that the kids were open to learning from us although we did not share their native tongue. With help from translators (few of who were students in the program itself) we were able to share our knowledge with the students, and learn first hand
about their world.

We felt honoured by the constant enthusiasm, dedication, and patience they demonstrated while working with us, and we were blown away by the quality of work they produced during our short time together.

Melki taking photosIt became clear to us very quickly that some of the students possessed a raw talent and keen eye for photography.

This natural talent, when coupled with unbridled enthusiasm, resulted in the creation of some truly beautiful images.

We were most impressed by the eagerness the children showed both to learn as well as to teach. We were able to pass on some of our knowledge about the art and business of photography, and they were willing to open up to us to teach us about their language, culture and community.

One of the main highlights for us occurred near the end of our time in Granada when we were accompanied on a walk through the barrio by a few of the students in the program.

They invited us into their homes, introduced us to their families, fed us, and gave us a tour of their community.

We were humbled by the realities of the lives of the children we had had the opportunity to teach, and grateful for their willingness to allow us into their worlds. Seeing first hand the difficulties that these children face on a daily basis made us more fully appreciate their dedication and commitment to learning.

When it came time to say our goodbyes we couldn’t help but wish we had more time to spend with the students, as each one of them truly touched
our hearts.”

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In Nicaragua 50% of the kids that start 1st grade never finish 5th grade. It is our goal to make this percentage drop significantly.

$30/month is what it takes us at Empowerment International to put a child in school. If you would like to help a child stay in school and get better life, please click on the link below or contact us

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