As the academic year draws to a close in Guatemala, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on the journey of Westbow Gives Back’s Digital Education Program. We sat down with Evelyn Diaz, a key figure in the program, to delve into the successes, challenges, and invaluable insights gained during this inaugural year.
Year in Retrospect
This year was marked by substantial progress and learning experiences. However, it wasn’t without its share of challenges. The program made great strides in honing students’ skills, yet it also became a crucial learning ground, unveiling limitations that would shape future improvements. Challenges ranged from adapting the program to the communities the schools are located in to dealing with varying internet qualities and understanding the attention span of the children.
At the program’s inception, a lofty goal was set – for 75% of students to reach a B1 level in English. Yet, as the year unfolded, this objective proved overly ambitious. Nevertheless, the children enrolled in the program celebrated reaching an A1 level. This achievement, considering the context and the absence of prior English foundations, marks a significant milestone.
Student Participation and Excitement
The heartbeat of the Digital Education Program lies in the enthusiasm of the students. Beyond the acquisition of language skills, the program instilled in them the ability, desire, and habit to set goals. This newfound capacity allowed students to recognize English not merely as a subject but as a tool to achieve their aspirations. Their long-term goals began to become more clear, often revolving around securing better job opportunities, while teachers simultaneously emphasized the importance of continuous education to break the cycle of poverty.
Behind the scenes, unsung heroes emerged – the dedicated teachers of AMG. Though not directly involved in the program, they played a pivotal role in ensuring its success. From organizing students to managing classrooms during English classes, these teachers provided indispensable support. Their unwavering encouragement served as a constant motivation for students not to get discouraged.
Expectations for the Future
Looking ahead to 2024, optimism permeates the future of the Digital Education Program. Lessons learned during the first year will be the compass guiding the program’s evolution. Armed with a refined pedagogical model, the focus is on progress over perfection. The uniqueness of the program lies not just in teaching English but in fostering independent learning. The ultimate aim is to create a ripple effect, impacting the lives of students as well as their families and communities.
As we wrap up this reflective journey, heartfelt gratitude goes to everyone who played a part in the program’s success. Enthusiastic students, dedicated teachers, and supportive parents – each has been indispensable. As the program ventures into new frontiers, it paves the way for ongoing growth and impact, signaling an optimistic chapter in the narrative of the Digital Education Program.