My year has been full of laughter, tears, and amazement as a Teach for America Corps Member. Teaching 4th grade at the lowest performing elementary school in Richmond, California has been an incredible learning experience. My 32 students were full of energy, excitement, and passion. As the year progressed, I started to share my Nicaraguan experiences in the classroom. My students' interest was instantly sparked and they continuously asked me questions about the Yahoskas and Los Quinchos.
Feeding off their energy, I planned and implemented a philanthropy unit, in which the students read Three Cups of Tea: The Young Readers Addition as a class. The students developed a class philanthropy project, and chose to center their goal around the Yahoskas. The goal was to fill a suitcase with useful donations. Their project was a success! I am leaving for Nicaragua in the morning, loaded with a 48 pound suitcase full of Spanish books (donated by my students, their parents, several other donors, and some that I purchased) and a 47 pound suitcase full of other donations. I am extremely impressed by my students drive and generosity.
My students also wrote pen pal letters to the Yahoskas. While in Nicaragua, I will conduct a series of writing workshops in which I will help the Yahoskas learn how to write friendly letters in a three paragraph format. I think they will really enjoy connecting with my 4th graders, many of whom are from Mexico. In several of their letters, students describe their experiences as Latinos in the United States, as well as what life is like living in an impoverished, urban community.