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Taking off with Open Air Classrooms

Time flies!

Last week I was at the Laguna de Sinamaica kicking off the activities at the school. It was great to meet the Tepui team and the staff at the school, and I still cannot believe the amount of things we did and achieved in such a short time. It feels like I was there yesterday, but the 40 degrees temperature difference remains me otherwise.

As I was telling a colleague yesterday, I normally have two types of updates: the Consultancy version, straight to the point and concise aimed for people that do not have much time, something like a summary version. But as a Venezuelan, I also like to share the full-telenovela style version, including all the additional details. This blog today is aiming to be the first type… To summarized the week in one word: uplifting.

In this picture (from left to right): school principal Keila Navas, Maurelena Remiro Tepui Country Coordinator and Yelitza Louzé Bättig, Tepui president, closing alliances

Just to provide a bit of context: 9th of January was the first day of “official” operations for the project Open Air Classrooms (Aulas al Aire Libre) at the Laguna de Sinamaica. While we have been preparing months in advanced and had already discussed with the school principal about the project and Tepui’s vision, our last face to face discussion was at the end of September last year. Therefore, one of our first concerns was whether the school was still “on-board” with the approach. Tepui team worked on Monday and Tuesday to revise, prepare and align views before meeting the school staff. For us, it was also the first time we all sat together.

How did the week go? By the end of last week, the school Principal together with Tepui introduced the project Aulas al Aire Libre and we gained a solid and positive commitment to incorporate the project into the school. A response far more engaged and decisive than what we expected. It was agreed to start with children from 4th, 5th and 6th grade.

Keila Navas, the School Principal introducing Tepui

Right after the presentation, all the teaching staff got informed about the project. Their response was similarly positive, with teachers and coordinators quickly coming up with great ideas on how to leverage the learnings, extending even to incorporating the wisdom of the elderlies with the usage of medicinal plants.

During that first week, we also identified the areas to start the vegetables garden and the type of set up to use according to the conditions of the place. In the picture below, we see William Rodriguez, Tepui Field Technician and I checking the potential planting areas.

In terms of logistics we secured the transport with the school dory in the lagoon for William, his lodging within the school premises and confirmed the office space in the school for Tepui. All of this will facilitate greatly the operations for Tepui to move forward with the project.

This week, the team is sitting together with teachers from 4th, 5th and 6th class to shape the way the sessions will be delivered, always keeping in sight that the deployment is a joint effort. Here, we count with Alí Fernandez to facilitate the discussions. This is a critical step to ensure ownership and commitment.

In the coming weeks we focus on making progress at a steady pace and not lose momentum. I can’t wait to see the kids getting involved… it is exciting times for all of us!

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