What a Wonderful World….!

Maybe a few of you recognized the titled of the last Post, “And I think to myself” to be part of the lyrics to the song “What a Wonderful World” made popular by Louis Armstrong.

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong

He recorded the song in 1967 and it was made even more popular as a featured song in the movie “Good Morning Viet Nam” starring Robin Williams in 1987. This song played as the movie started. It seemed to be such a strange intro song to a war/comedy movie with the setting in Saigon, during the Viet Nam Conflict. Robin Williams was nominated for an Academy Award for his starring role as a radio DJ for the Armed Forces Radio Services serving in Saigon. Armstrong’s 1987 recording of this song was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

Of course, the world was not wonderful in Viet Nam but the song’s strange presence as featured in the movie caused a lasting impression on me. Many times since, the song has been a cheerful reminder that in the middle of the worst possible conditions, there are still rainbows, children, blue skies, white clouds and the rest. I find myself thinking, in the grand scheme of things, “what a wonderful world”. One verse reads:

“I hear babies cry, and I watched them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
Yes, I think to myself what a wonderful world.”

To listen to Armstrong sing, click on the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5TwT69i1lU

In Copey, things are moving along extremely well for the Learning Center and some of the efforts initiated by “Friends of Copey” are showing some real promise. Unfortunately, we are still too early into the planning and development phase to make any special announcements but some ground breaking news is in the making. So stay tuned in.

Star studentsAs a “Friend” you must keep praying for progress and success and if you do not pray…think positive thoughts. Speaking of which, during Pope Francis’ visit last week, I happened to hear a short portion of one of his speeches. Specifically, he asked his audience to pray for him. He went further to say that if you do not pray, apply your positive thoughts instead. Maybe some of you heard that message. For me, it resembled closely the same message we have been making about the involvement of “Friends” from the beginning. The following is an excerpt of the Post issued in April of 2014.

“What is expected of a “Friend of Copey”? Really, not much. For those of us who pray…please continue to pray!  For those of us who believe positive thinking generates positive results and outcomes…spend time each day thinking positive thoughts about our efforts. For those inclined to want to do more, keep informed and be on watch. At times, a special request may come along that will touch you and inspire you to go beyond praying and thinking. You may have an idea, a talent, a skill or knowledge that will help the cause. Finally, even a small donation may be part of your involvement although never required as a “friend”. In all instances, you will be livin “the givin” back.”  (Read the full text at  https://friendsofcopey.com/2014/04/03/).

Of course, I am not claiming to be on the same level as Pope Francis. But, clearly he and I are making the same appeal. As a “Friend of Copey”, you are making a difference whether you personally see it or not. Your prayers and thoughts are sustaining this effort and keeping me encouraged and committed as well. The Learning Center, the parents, the students and staff all truly value our involvement and support. Most important, children are learning more than I will ever know!  What a Wonderful World!

And I Think To Myself…..

“I do the very best I can to look upon life with optimism and hope and looking forward to a better day…”   by Rosa Parks

Costa Rica’s Independence Day is celebrated on September 15th each year. I almost forgot to mention it. This date commemorates the independence of the entire Central America from Spain which took place in 1821. In Costa Rica the celebration includes much excitement and cheerfulness.

Independence Day CR

The raising of the National Flag, singing the National Anthem, parades, singing, and dancing in the streets are part of the annual celebration. At precisely 6:00pm on the 14th, the national radio and TV stations broadcast the Costa Rican National Anthem and the entire country sings together in a spirit of patriotism. Then begins the parades along with other activities of celebration that last through the 15th.  Being a National Holiday, not much goes on inside classrooms while the celebration is underway.

In the Learning Center, the students have been very busy in a variety of educational activities. Recently, the older students have been working on developing documents that could be considered biographies. They are learning to read and write information about themselves in English. This is a significant activity that will prove useful as the students move towards higher education or employment.

Students do BIOsAs we have indicated many times in this Blog, students are at the Learning Center to learn English and this goal is helped by teaching students about many relevant subjects including the environment. It may be said that all learning at the Learning Center is at least a two purpose objective. (Tip: Put your cursor on the photo and click to enlarge. You can read the students’ posters easily!)

Many of the younger students are busy learning numbers and this past week it has been “ordinal” numbers. You remember what “ordinal” numbers are…RIGHT?  Perhaps those of you who are not current or retired teachers may have to do a little research to catch up on what these young students are busy learning.

Students Learning their numbersHaving once taught elementary school, I vaguely recalled the term “ordinal” numbers but I had to double-check the term myself. Suffice to say, these students are really doing some special things and we continue to encourage each of them.

Also, students have been (Advanced 2nd and 3rd Graders) studying historical figures.  So far, this has included Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa. The overall objective is to instill in the students those great qualities these three people shared;  justice, leadership, and perseverance.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

According to our volunteer teacher, Marguerite, a student was asked after reviewing Rosa Parks, “What makes a good leader”?, the student responded with…respect and courage

As the young students learn about justice, leadership, and perseverance during their studies, hopefully they will also learn one more important fact. Rosa Parks just decided one day to “do something” different! This something created a ripple and the ripple caused a tidal wave that changed history.

“Friends of Copey” is in the ripple business…we are doing something…and sometimes we even take the first step. Surely, Rosa Parks would be the first to tell us…a ripple can make a BIG difference.

I continue to be full of hope and enthusiasm for the wonderful work being done at the Learning Center. These pictures of students I share with you provide the look of happy students enjoying the opportunity to learn. This alone should be more than enough motivation for us to care and to be actively involved.

“Not I…Said The Barnyard Animals.

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”  by George Washington Carver

The Spelling Bee is underway. This means we have great expectations for our wonderful students at the Learning Center. Many of you will recall we reported on the Spelling Bee contest last Fall. We kept informed of the progress of several students who were trying very hard to make their way up that difficult ladder to the National level of the Spelling Bee contest in Costa Rica. We did see some success as several students did make it to the Regional level…one step below Nationals. Maybe, we can go all the way this year with one or more of our students. zzzSpelling Bee

This year the results of the first round at the local level were fantastic. The top three spellers were Learning Center students. At the next level, the Circuit Level, ten schools sent their top three spellers, and out of  those 30 students, the three Learning Center students finished 2nd, 3rd, and 6th place. If I understand all this, the 2nd and 3rd students will move on to Regionals.

There is more great news….!  The Spelling Bee contest includes competitions for “impromptu” speeches. The Learning Center took two first place positions among the group of 4th-5th graders and 10th-11th graders. Their speeches were presented in English and therefore the Learning Center is well represented among the winners. These students will be moving on to Regional competition as well.
The Spelling Bee is an important and very popular activity within the Costa Rican zzzSpelling Bee winnerseducational system. By design it is intended to motivate and encourage students to learn English. This is more easily done in the more urban or larger towns and cities in the country.  However, for the more rural or isolated towns, it is an awesome challenge. This daily exposure students have in larger locations enhances the student’s development and learning of the English  language.
zzzSeidy and studentsIn Copey, the small population of both adults and children speak very little English within the community and within the home. The primary source for exposure to English is within the classroom.
Therefore, we should be very proud of the success the Learning Center students have achieved and continue to achieve. The Spelling Bee provides one opportunity to measure the success and effectiveness of the Learning Center. Angela and the staff are commended for the exceptional job being done with the Learning Center’s students.
Over the next month or so, we will continue to keep you updated on the progress of our Spelling Bee contest champions as they move up to the Regional competition. I would encourage you AGB Scholarship donors to look closely at the photos to see if your recipient is included. The probability is high! 
Other News
Education and more specifically English education is taking place by applying a variety of methods/approaches. Last week, many students spent hours involved in a “reforestation” project. While learning to care for their environment, the students are learning English. The environment is one of the core areas of studies the students are all involved in. Working to sustain your environment while learning English is a winning combination.
20150906_075334The students, teachers, parents, staff of the Learning Center, and Board
zzzTree planting
members spent one morning planting 80 trees in the Copey community.
This is part of the environmental work the community supports. It is reported that over 2,000 tree are planted annually as part of the “reforestation” project. As English is being taught, learning about the environment these students live in and how to take great care of it is part of the learning process.
In closing, I want to share this with you. I attended a conference this past weekend and was reminded of an old Children’s Book I read many years ago. The title of this Post comes from “The Little Red Hen”. Do you know the story and do you see any connection this may have with the “Friends of Copey”?  I am interested in hearing from you.

Services Rendered….Freely!

“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless!”  by Sherry Anderson

Meet two of the key volunteers who are doing a wonderful job teaching at the Learning Center.

Marguerite 2.

Marguerite Malloy, a college graduate, professes to be an adventurer and competent Spanish speaker. She grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish.

According to Marguerite, she has always wanted to live abroad and work with children. Her past experience as a substitute teacher in the US now has her in a wonderful position to apply her education and experience at the Learning Center. Marguerite indicates she really enjoys reading, making jewelry, and exploring the beautiful country of Costa Rica.  Below she is working with kindergarten age students.

Marguerite at work

 

Markki Meyer (below) is the second volunteer teacher. She was born and raised in east central Minnesota in a rural town called North Branch. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM) in Communication, Media and Rhetoric, and also in Spanish.Markki 1

According to Markki, she is in Costa Rica because she wants to immerse herself in the Spanish language and do what she loves best…helping others. Furthermore, Marrki indicates her  English as a Second Language experience includes two years volunteering at UMM and three semesters of experience working at a community center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her US experience was working with adult learners and at the Learning Center she is working with all ages and loving it.

The photo above shows Marrki working with the advanced 4th-6th graders on politely expressing differences of opinion with phrases like “That may be true, but…” or “I see your point, however…” They are learning how to craft persuasive arguments and engage in respectful discourse…in English of course.

Markki and Marguerite

Markki and Marguerite

These two volunteers have made tremendous personal and professional sacrifices to become a temporary member of the Copey community for the purpose of serving others. We learned a lot from our experience with our own “Key Friend”, Hailey Tibbett. Hailey also left the comforts and safety of home, family and friends to go to a very unfamiliar rural location in another country. It is challenging but as the saying goes “it may be the hardest job you will ever love”. 

As “Friends of Copey” we extend our best wishes and heartfelt thanks to both of these volunteers and we are happy to be partners with them as we do what we can to support their volunteer efforts.

Now, if you want to become a volunteer at the Learning Center, let me know. If you know someone who could benefit from being deeply involved in an educational experiment with a heavy focus on teaching English, let me know.  Anyone can go to the Learning Center’s own web site and learn more about what is involved in becoming a volunteer.

http://copeylearningcenter.org/volunteer-with-us.html

In other news, “Friends” has donated money to help the Learning Center obtain a very much-needed quality camera. The camera will assist in obtaining quality photos needed for professional presentations. Also, this will help provide us many great photos to share with “Friends” around the world. Thank you Dr. Lin Church and other “Friends” for donating some funds.

While on the note of donating, recently I was reminded that I fail to inform or remind “Friends” how to make a donation if the urge hits. If you feel inclined to donate, there are basically two methods available. First method available is to go to the Learning Center’s web site at the link above and find the PayPal button in the upper right hand corner. Make your donation there but be certain to include the name “Friends of Copey” so we can keep track of the support being provided. Second method available is to make the check out to me (A.T. Broady) and send to me. I will deposit the check into my account and then  make the donation on your behalf using their PayPal. I will receive a receipt from PayPal and forward you the receipt to confirm the donation being made as promised. You will also get a note of thanks from the Learning Center. The Learning Center is always in need of supplies and teaching materials so feel free anytime if you desire to donate.

The relatively small amount of donations we “typically” deal with annually does not justify the need for a special bank account and the bureaucratic hassle and expense this often involves. I am very happy to personally handle any donation you wish to make or you can donate directly to the Learning Center if you prefer.  Use  http://copeylearningcenter.org  or mail a check to me at:

A. T. Broady, 725 North Center Parkway, Apt. N-201, Kennewick, WA 99336.

In closing, I wish to thank several of you for the very kind notes and comments received regarding last week’s Post. Some comments pertained to Ms. Lawrence and others included Mom and our work in general. Much of my inspiration and encouragement comes from you, therefore keep the cards and letters coming. Looking forward to sharing some very interesting news next week…so stay connected.