Service Learning and the La Paloma Library

“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.
IMG_9074We 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.
IMG_9063The 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.

IMG_9079The parents brought refreshing coconut water for us to drink during a break.
IMG_9087Then, one of the volunteers entertained the students with her guitar and gorgeous voice.

IMG_9095The students brought fruit baskets for the service learning group. Aren’t they beautiful?

IMG_9097Then, they performed a welcoming dance for our volunteers.
IMG_9102Back to work. Painting flowers, butterflies, and adding stems to the hand print garden.
IMG_9106Day 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. 🙂

23 thoughts on “Service Learning and the La Paloma Library

  1. What a heartwarming and hands on approach to sharing and learning. I love what you do, Debbie. Even though you have taken courses, it seems like you are a natural for this. My reading and responses will be on hold for awhile as we are going to Eastern Europe for several weeks. 😀

  2. I love the joint efforts and the kids participating by painting the walls and making the place cheerful and fun to visit. What a lovely gift to receive the fruit baskets, so beautifully prepared and the dances! This must have been so gratifying to see it all come to fruition….

  3. WOW!!!!
    WONDERFUL and soooooooo giving and most of all conscious,,,Nicaragua brings favor to those who help and are visitors in their country. TIRED is the word for expats who just drink , party and do nothing except …take. Soooooo not happening!!!!!

    God bless you and thank u for all your effort.

  4. Que agradable! Tu será recompensado con el amor de sus nuevos amigos y admiradores, el mundo necessitas mas gente con un corazon de oro como tu tienes… Dios te bendiga!

I'd love to read your ideas and thoughts below....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.