Student Volunteers Connect with Local Children in Puertollano
Ten student volunteers travelled to the village of Puertollano (Ciudad Real) for a weekend of service, cultural exchange and memory-making.
Together with Hamish Binns, community ESL coordinator, SLU-Madrid students offered a weekend-long program of English-teaching activities for the children who attend C.E.I.P. Menéndez Pelayo, a public pre-school and primary school in Puertollano. The children practiced their speaking and listening skills with the English-speaking volunteers though participation in recreational activities including song and dance, relay races and science experiments.
At the end of each day’s program, the roles reversed. The SLU-Madrid group became the students as they explored the beautiful town of Puertollano. Saturday evening featured a special presentation by Javier Márquez, who spoke about the inspiration for his book, Tacones rojos. A representative from the NGO “Hart Afrika” spoke about the organization’s mission and service work in Morocco.
Between a nominal participation fee for the weekend activities and parallel donations, the SLU-Madrid group had raised over 300 euros for the foundation to purchase materials to send to Morocco for outreach efforts. SLU-Madrid student volunteer Luke Hoss reflected that the presentations “led to the overall common theme of the weekend, that change comes when regular people get together to create and be a part of something more than themselves.”
The SLU-Madrid group wishes to extend a special thanks to María Gracia Ramos Gil, the director of C.E.I.P. Menéndez Pelayo, Carmen, the school secretary, and María Gracia, the school's English teacher for their hospitality and support throughout the weekend. “They are committed to trying to make their students' dreams come true: this summer they took a group of their fifth and sixth grade students to the beach because many of them had never before seen the sea, stayed in a hotel or eaten in a restaurant,” Hoss commented, before adding, “The SLU-Madrid group fulfilled another wish, which was to give their students the chance to integrate and practice English with native speakers.”