“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” ~ Milton Berle
In my case, change the word “door” to “a library.” I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned how we first encountered Nicaragua. In 2003, my husband, son, and I delivered over 500 pounds of school supplies to an impoverished school in Granada. I found the need on the Lonely Planet forum when I was searching for an international service learning project to do with my high school classes.
Service Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enhance the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Learn and Serve America Fact Sheet
I am trained as a service learning instructor and have completed many service learning projects with a variety of age groups. We built playgrounds, water fountains, picnic tables, painted school cafeterias, and then, I branched out internationally to help a school in Nicaragua.
So, when I received an email from Go For Hope/Supporting Community Libraries in Nicaragua, and they were bringing a service learning group to Ometepe Island, it was another serendipitous moment. I had asked for some help, and they arrived with paint brushes in hand and a willingness to spread the love of reading to my little elementary school library.
Joe Hafner organized the service learning group. When they arrived, we were ready for them to begin two days of fun in our little library.
Joe read to the first graders. Then, they read to him.
We wanted to paint the outside of the library, so we solicited the helping hands of all the students. Loreen paints the hands of the students, then they put their hands on the wall to make flowers.
The girls painted a sign above the library door and embellished the library walls transforming the library into a welcoming sight. Meanwhile, a group of second graders were practicing group reading inside the library with other volunteers.
Then, they performed a welcoming dance for our volunteers.
Back to work. Painting flowers, butterflies, and adding stems to the hand print garden.
Day one was complete. All the students from first and second grade read stories and made their hand print flowers. But, the best is yet to come.
Stay tuned for Part Two of our Service Learning Project. I can’t wait to share with you how you can help spread the love of reading with my little La Paloma Elementary School. We’ve created a partnership with Go for Hope with many new ideas and ways you can become involved.
The opportunity knocked…and I built a library…with a lot of help from my friends. 🙂