The walls are up at an elementary school under construction in Ciudad Dario, Nicaragua, in 2010 when Emerson Junior High School teacher Jennifer Wolfe and her two children visited and joined the work party. Wolfe and her kids — Lily, 17, and Cameron, 13 —and Willett Elementary teacher Niki Reina-Guerra along with a dozen other volunteers will return to the community this month to build an addition to the high school. Courtesy photo

Local News

Davis teacher returns to Nicaragua to plant more seeds of learning

By From page A8 | July 14, 2013

You can help

Donate school supplies for the children of Ciudad Dario: everything from paper to pencils to art supplies, as well as children’s Spanish books and coloring books. They also need new or gently used backpacks for the children, all of whom walk to school

Donate used laptop computers for Laura Hiller’s Girl Scout Silver Award. She is writing user manuals for the laptops in Spanish., which will include her favorite websites for research, music, games and skill-building

Contact Wolfe at [email protected] by Saturday, July 20, to make a donation

The long Davis tradition of fostering education in Latin America continues this summer with another group of parents, teachers and students heading to Nicaragua where they will spend 10 days helping to build an addition to a high school.

The trip marks a return to Ciudad Dario for Emerson Junior High teacher Jennifer Wolfe, who, along with her two children, spent part of her summer in the small town three years ago building an elementary school.

Then as now, Wolfe was working with Seeds of Learning, a nonprofit organization that has constructed or remodeled 152 classrooms in 55 Latin American communities since 1991, often with the help of Davis teachers and families. In fact, a contingent from César Chávez Elementary School is there now, hard at work on the high school. When they depart, Wolfe, her children, Lily, 17, and Cameron, 13, as well as Willett Elementary School teacher Niki Reina-Guerra and a dozen other volunteers will arrive to pick up where the last group left off.

There they will work side by side with community members in building the addition.

“Everyone in the community works on it,” Wolfe said, “so it’s not just us walking in and building it and leaving.”

Once they do leave, a bond remains. The school Wolfe’s family helped build three years ago became a sister school to Emerson. The Davis volunteers also bring much-needed supplies for the Nicaraguan students, including backpacks, paper, pencils and art supplies.

During their time in Ciudad Dario, the Davis volunteers will live at the community’s learning resource center — an old bank building that Seeds of Learning turned into a community center equipped with Internet access, books and more. In addition to the dormitory-style rooms where the volunteers will sleep, the center offers classes and activities to community members throughout the year.

Mornings will be spent working at the school site, Wolfe said, with volunteers not knowing what they’ll be doing until they arrive. Three years ago, she said, the group found themselves preparing the ground surface for the elementary school — literally picking rocks out of the dirt and later placing rebar.

Afternoons are spent back at the resource center, teaching classes and doing crafts with the children.

It was that kind of cross-cultural connection that motivated Wolfe to bring her children with her three years ago and again this summer — so they could get to know children from another region of the world, and practice their Spanish at the same time.

Lily and Cameron so enjoyed it, they’ve wanted to go back ever since, she said.

Now, as the group prepares to depart on July 21, they are asking for the Davis community’s help in stocking the schools in Ciudad Dario with the basics: everything from paper to pencils to art supplies, as well as children’s Spanish books and coloring books. They also need new or gently used backpacks for the children, all of whom walk to school, some several miles each way.

Meanwhile, one of the Davis teens traveling with the group is collecting used laptop computers for the schools.

Laura Hiller, a student at Holmes Junior High School, is earning her Girl Scout Silver Award by collecting used laptops and writing user manuals for the laptops in Spanish. Her manuals also will include her favorite websites for research, music, games and skill-building, as well as information on how to research on the Internet. Any desktop computers she collects will be donated to the Davis Migrant Center, along with copies of her manuals.

All donations need to be made by Saturday, July 20, as the group departs the following day. Wolfe is happy to pick up donations or provide directions to her house. Contact her at [email protected].

Meanwhile, friends have set up an Indiegogo campaign with all monetary donations going to Seeds of Learning. Donate by visiting www.indiegogo.com/projects/fund-raising-for-nicaragua.

Wolfe’s efforts in Nicaragua this summer continue her focus on global learning, one that also took her to Indonesia last summer.

She was one of 63 teachers in the United States awarded a grant to study global education through the Teachers for Global Classrooms program. The U.S. Department of Education program included two weeks in Indonesia, learning about that country’s educational system and even teaching in it.

And Wolfe’s focus on her students back in Davis clearly hasn’t wavered: In June she received the Hal Reid Faculty Award at Emerson, an award bestowed annually on the outstanding female and male teachers at the school. Greg Brucker also was recognized this year.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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