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Creating a Program for Darfuris to Shape

I can’t believe we just wrapped up our third Little Ripples symposium and are preparing Gabriel and Sara-Christine to train our Darfuri teachers in Camp Goz Amer for the 3rd time. Each training is more in depth and builds on the previous ones.

This Symposium was hosted by our Expert Teacher Advisor (ETA) Irma Vazquez at My Escuelita: Spanish for Kids in Redondo Beach, CA. We had eleven team members, including four new ETAs who brought years of experience in preschool education, community/parent engagement, and international implementation of early childhood development models.

This coming LR Teacher Training, i-ACT’s 18th trip to eastern Chad, will work with the teachers to ensure that there is a positive, peaceful daily routine. We will revisit play-based learning activities that were co-created during the first two trainings, and work with the teachers to learn and discover new ways to use the toys to teach literacy, numbers, colors, and more. We will also share new strength-based, peaceful strategies for managing students and creating a calm environment to help them grow. All of these trainings will be based in sharing the ideas and then discussing ways the Darfuris might implement them. A fundamental part of the LR curriculum is that it is co-created with the local teachers. While we bring in experts to help create a strong skeleton model, we want the Darfuri women to own the program. I love being part of such an innovative program, including the heated, thoughtful, and energizing conversations that create the foundation of the program.

One of the new ETAs, Sari from Pressman Academy, sent me this wonderful note that I think sums up the day at My Escuelita:

I was so glad to be able to participate in yesterday’s symposium and feel like I could use my skills and experience to help make even a small difference in the lives of the teachers you are training at the Little Ripples School and, of course, the children they are teaching.

It would be so easy, when hearing about the state of the refugees and the crazy obstacles that need to be overcome in order to implement programs and change, to throw up one’s hands and say, forget it, this task is impossible. Becoming part of this group, and spending time with so many of you who have dedicated your lives to making a difference, (even risked your lives in shootouts with rebels in Chad) and not giving up or losing hope was really inspiring to me.

Thank you Sari from Pressman Academy for sharing your knowledge and joining the Little Ripples team (and Mina from Jewish World Watch for connecting us!). I’m grateful for all our community partners who continue to connect us to new experts who are innovators in their field. As we move forward, we continue to grow.

I can’t wait to watch the videos of the third Little Ripples training in February! The journey of opening Little Ripples has been a long and deeply gratifying one.

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