Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Celebrating Education at the Scholarship Assembly

Text by Elizabeth Barnes and photos by Lily Bodinson

The Pop Wuj Scholarship Program is our oldest and biggest project. Founders recruited the first scholarship recipients 25 years ago, a few weeks before Pop Wuj Spanish School opened!

But the Scholarship Program also maybe the least visible of our projects, as typically only interns or students in the Social Work Spanish Program volunteer at monthly meetings. Also, investment in education is a longer-term project. We wait longer to see results than in, say, the Safe Stove Project.

Once a year, we dedicate a day to spotlighting the Scholarship Program and celebrating student achievement. In 2016 we invited all 122 students and their families to the school for our Scholarship Assembly on November 30.

We try to accomplish a lot—checking everyone's health, writing letters, recognizing students, taking photos, and gathering updates.

Scholarship students wait in line outside the Pop Wuj Clinic.
First each student checked in at the clinic, where Medical Spanish Program student volunteers did a quick height/weight check. Anyone needing further medical attention also saw a doctor.

Medical Spanish Program students Lauren and Terry take a brief history with a family.
Upstairs, students started at the letter table to write notes to their padrinos y madrinas (sponsors).

Busy with letters!

 When all the students had passed through the clinic, everyone convened for a ceremony.

Roney Alvarado Gamarro, Director of the Medical Program at Pop Wuj, opens the ceremony by welcoming the students and their families. Family Support Center participant Yadira (bottom right) was not the most attentive.
The ceremony celebrated the hard work of all our Scholarship Program students. But we set aside time to recognize those who have now completed primary school (8 students), middle school (9), high school (9), or a post-secondary program (1—Dinora).
Dinora completed her program to be a nurse's assistant this December. We are so proud! You can read more about her accomplishments and Pop Wuj's other post-secondary students (including her brother Gustavo) in the last issue of Solidaridad, the Pop Wuj and Foundation Todos Juntos newsletter.

Ceremony over, we broke out tamales! (None of which lasted long enough to make it into a photo.)

All day the school was bursting at the seams with people. Amid the chaos, our photographer Lily and visiting volunteer Amy Scheuren rounded up students to take photos on the roof. (Amy is a former Pop Wuj Student Coordinator and current president of Foundation Todos Juntos. We were delighted to have her back for a week!)

Everyone who completed primary school! 
Finally, before leaving, at least one representative from each family checked in with Director of Social Projects Carmen de Alvarado to receive the year's last scholarship payment, discuss any problems, and share plans for 2017. Scholarship sponsors will get the latest news in an update from Amy soon.

Even though the Scholarship Assembly arguably makes for the most jam-packed, hectic day of the year, it's also a highlight for staff and volunteers. It's a chance to see all of our awesome students and their families and celebrate victories after their hard work!

Letters done? Yessica and Erick break out Pop Wuj's guitar. Erick graduated from high school this year!
Astrid and her son Emmanuel pose on the roof. His dad, Gustavo, is a university student. (Gustavo is also featured in Solidaridad!) Emmanuel is a Family Support Center participant and will start school in 2017.
¡Felices fiestas a todos! Happy holidays, everyone! Nos vemos en 2017.

Have you checked out the fall / winter issue of Solidaridad, with news from AsociaciĆ³n Pop Wuj and Foundation Todos Juntos? Read it online and subscribe to receive the next edition by email!

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