Let me just start by saying I AM DONE! Done with school, done with the semester, and now officially in summer!
I’ll back up though, it’s been a while.
So, we got back from our agriculture field trip and finished up the class by writing a 10 page paper with partner on the agricultural topic of our choice. Flaam and I wrote a paper entitled “A Case for the Sustainable Management of Soil Fertility.” If you had told me a year ago that I would be taking a break from my college education of pretty much only multiple choice exams to write a 10 page paper on soil fertility I am not sure I would have believed you, which made this seem like a big accomplishment, and I was really happy with how it turned out.
Once that was over we dove directly into about 2 weeks of finishing up our internship. Now our time was our own and Ginny and I got straight to work writing our 50 page paper, creating a CD, a coloring book, and a vocabulary pamphlet to give to our host organization, not to mention creating a power point and preparing for our 15 minute Spanish presentation of the whole thing.
It was a lot of work but my days felt weirdly empty. Pretty much everyday of the 2 weeks Ginny and I met at 9 AM, went to one of a few locations, worked until lunch, took a break, met back up, worked until 4 and by then our brains were a bit exhausted. Since as I have mentioned, we live in Ciudad del Saber, an ex-US military base that is weirdly isolated, there wasn’t really much to do when we were free at the end of the day. One of the ways my roommates and I solved this was to make delicious dinners and then watch movies a night. Here is an idea of what we watched during this time : Tin Tin, Walk the Line, Ratatouille, Legally Blonde, Midnight in Paris, The Beaver, Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, and a few others. This was hugely contrasted by a semester of having watched no movies or tv for the most part.
Throughout this time we got everything done. I even now have awakward song and vocabulary recordings on my itunes that have been turned into a CD. We took one last day to go give our “products” to the organization in San Miguelito. They gave us a parting gift of a mug that says ” Yo <3 Panama”.
Our paper, entitled “El Papel y La Motivacion de Aprender Ingles en la Vida de la Gente del Valle San Isidro” or “The role and motivation for learning English in the lives of the people from El Valle San Isidro” is 50 pages and comprises the whole story of our internship.
I am pretty proud of it.
Then on April 26th we had our Internship Symposium at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Each group gave a 15 minute presentation in Spanish, weirdly enough recordings of these will be available online at somepoint. And although Ginny and I were LAST to go, everything went smoothly, and with turning in our report afterwards we are officially done!!!!
If you are interested in our report, here is our abstract/executive summary:
The Role and the Motivation for Learning English in the Lives of the people from El Valle San Isidro
Virginia Kenyon and Elizabeth Scott
Host Organization: La Organización de Madres Maestras
San Miguelito, Valle San Isidro final. - PO Box: 0850-00738
La Organización de Madres Maestras is a non-governmental organization centered on creating and fostering a positive educational environment for preschool-aged children. Madres Maestras works to expand upon the traditional family structure by raising the children as a community. The organization was founded in San Miguelito, El Valle San Isidro, northeast of Panama City. Over the last 40 years, Madres Maestras has expanded and now has branches throughout Panama, Honduras, and Costa Rica.
An internship was conducted with Madres Maestras by two students from McGill University between January and April of 2012. The internship took place at four of the organization’s preschool classrooms in the area of El Valle San Isidro. The primary goals of the internship were to provide basic English lessons and to carry out an investigation of the role of English and the motivations for learning it in the lives of the women who attend the Madres Maestras program.
Basic English lessons were provided to the mothers and children who attend each of the four preschools. The lessons were conducted using interactive songs, games, and dialogues. Themes of the material taught include basic daily phrases, the family, body parts, colors, and fruit. Lesson plans were adapted to fit the needs and demographics of each preschool. Due to the nature of offering lessons at multiple sites, each preschool was visited for two to three days.
The investigation was conducted using two sets of questionnaires that were distributed to the mothers during the lessons. The questionnaires assessed level of English, opinions on the lessons, desires and motivations for themselves and their children to learn English, and the perception of the role of English in Panama.
Results from the questionnaires showed that women of this area are enthusiastic about the prospect of learning English. Their desire to learn English is motivated by an interest in helping their children as well as aspirations for a higher standard of living. The women believe that English plays an important role in tourism, development, and communication within Panama. Thus by learning this language, they feel that their children will be exposed to more opportunities.
To help continue the goals of the lessons beyond the time frame of the internship, various products were created and given to the main office of the organization as well as the individual preschools that attended the lessons. These products include an auditory CD for pronunciation purposes as well as an accompanying pamphlet with vocabulary and song lyrics. A large coloring book with English spelling and pronunciation annotations was given to the organization to be photocopied and distributed at their discretion. Laminated materials from the lessons were also placed in the care of the organization.