Teacher Spotlight: Andrea Gil
At Participate Learning, we seek to grow and empower an international community of educators from around the world. We place teachers in schools from a wide range of experiences, nations, and cultures so that they may share their knowledge and personal perspectives with students. Our goal is to nurture global citizens by fostering curiosity and empathy in students, to look beyond their local communities and make a positive impact.
Andrea Gil is one of our outstanding cultural exchange teachers. Originally from Bogota, Colombia, she is in her third year teaching in the US. She is a second grade Spanish Immersion teacher at Hopewell Elementary School in Randolph County, North Carolina. Read on to discover how Andrea and her class worked to make an incredible impact on Central American communities.
Over the course of two weeks, Gil and her school collaborated with The Pulsera Project, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower, educate, and connect Central American artists with students in US schools. This connection was initiated by selling colorful handwoven bracelets (known as “pulsera” in Spanish). Each pulsera was sold for $5 and all of the proceeds were invested into artisans’ well-being, including university scholarships, healthcare, and housing programs for artisans and their families.
Andrea and her school didn’t just sell a few pulseras…they sold over 500!
“The project was successful at our school. We raised $2,550, which, according to The Pulsera Project, is enough to provide fair trade employment for four full months in addition to raising enough money to pay for over five years of college education for the people we work with in Nicaragua,” said Gil.
The major success of this project wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and hard work of Gil’s second-grade students, who planned and implemented a school-wide campaign in both English and Spanish. The campaign included a presentation that the students shared with classrooms throughout the school and included informational videos and resources showing what life is like in Central America for artisans employed by The Pulsera Project. Each artisan even has their own personalized video that shows how they make their bracelets and how each purchase is valued by their family and community. Her class even created this YouTube video to provide an overview of The Pulsera Project and all that it encompassed.
Andrea reflects, “This project was definitely a highlight of the school year as students engaged with the beauty of Latin American culture while lending support to these skilled artisans and their communities!” This project was extremely special for the students in Gil’s classroom as they were able to directly see that their hard work made a difference in the lives of artisans and their families. Not only do cultural projects develop empathy and compassion in students, but learning about life beyond US borders empowers student action through 21st Century Skills and the SDGs. How can you and your classroom make a difference through cultural exchange this year?
Participate teachers provide an invaluable cultural exchange perspective for students. To read more inspirational stories about our cultural exchange teachers and the impact they have had on students, read this blog post.