Ten teachers and administrators visiting us from the US along with Oscar and Camila of the Fundación Abril, our friends from the Democracy Center, and Don Abdón and Doña Julieta from the community Flores Rancho
In July a group of ten teachers and school administrators from the US visited us, our partners, the Fundación Abril, and our friends from the Democracy Center. They came to Cochabamba as part of the Dragons Professional Educator Course, and were being treated to a tour of ours and the Fundación Abril’s projects. So, by day’s end they got to see and learn about a neighborhood-owned and -operated water treatment plant, organic student gardens, rain catchment systems, the Andean School of Water, and the randomly selected and rotated student government in Valle Alto!
As we were currently in the middle of winter school vacation, their timing wasn’t ideal, but luckily one former student government member happened to be around the school and was excited to explain to our visitors how her student government operates. She did a great job walking them through the random selection process, meeting norms, individual roles and responsibilities, and their achievements. She also fielded questions with Adam translating between Spanish and English.
Eighth-grade student explaining to the group how her student government operates
It was wonderful to see her speak so clearly and confidently to this group of strangers. We’ve known her for over two years now and it’s quite clear that her two terms participating in the student government have really helped her grow. Last year when she was randomly selected to enter the student government she was a pretty timid seventh-grade girl. This year when she was randomly selected she volunteered and was randomly selected to serve as the government’s spokesperson, and after just a few months in that role we are seeing the results. Indeed, when asked by one of our visitors if there was a message she wanted them to take back to their school in the States, she said that she hoped they would form a similar student government so that all students could lose their fear of speaking in public. Just one of our many anecdotal observations of the potential for random selection and rotation to provide everyday people (in this case everyday students) the opportunity to grow and develop as people, citizens, and leaders.
This same student addressing the Mayor of her town in front of the entire school as spokesperson for the student government
(the students behind her are her fellow government members)
After finishing our visit at that school we headed to another part of Valle Alto, to the Andean School of Water, where we were treated a delicious meal by the local community and an enlightening talk about climate change from our friends of the Democracy Center. The trip back was filled with questions from our interested guests.
Fresh cheese, steaks, mote, salad, and chicha and guarapo (traditional drinks made in those areas with maize and grapes) were a great way to finish the day together!
It was a great day of sharing all around. Thanks to the Dragons organization for the visit, and we hope we can continue this sharing and collaboration in the future!