Meet Tatiana. Smart, hard-working, and eager to expand her horizons beyond her small rural farming village, she is one of my rockstar English students in La Esperanza. Not only does she have the best grades in class, but she’s also a proven leader among her peers.
After school lets out at 11:30 am, a handful of students go home for lunch and return an hour later to receive two additional hours of English language instruction. That’s where I first recognized the ambition and leadership potential in Tatiana. She shows up each session early, excited to strengthen her bilingual skills. She wonders when we might be able to read a chapter book, something she’s never done before even in Spanish. During school, I’ve watched her help students with their English homework and encourage them to accompany her to English Club.
“I would like to attend this camp because I want to share and learn from the experience, and have it help me in my education and my future.” – Tatiana
Recently, Tatiana was selected out of 120 applicants to attend a camp called Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) along with 60 other girls from across the country. Originally started by a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania in 1995, the camp has since been replicated by Volunteers in over 60 countries to promote the empowerment of women. This will be the 4th to be held in Nicaragua.
For Tatiana, who is about to enter a period of adolescence where the pressure to drop out of school is extremely high, the camp couldn’t come at a better time. Her eighth grade class had 40 students. By ninth grade, that number dwindles to about 19 students. Tenth hovers around 13 and eleventh grade (the final grade) has about 8 students. Students drop out for a variety of reasons; most start working on their family farms, some face alcohol abuse problems, some girls get pregnant, and a few even get married. Even if Tatiana makes it to graduation, which I’m fairly confident she will, she lacks a support network of like-minded girls who are ambitious and can push each other to fulfill their goals.
“The biggest obstacle that young people face in my community is teenage pregnancy, which forces us to abandon our studies and changes our future forever.” – Tatiana
Young girls around the world face a myriad of unique societal and health issues in their communities that often prevent them from realizing their full potential. Here in Nicaragua, traditional conceptions of gender roles represent some of the biggest barriers. These conceptions can influence a girls’ ability to believe in herself and harbor high aspirations in her professional career. It can also weigh on a family’s decision whether to invest in their daughter’s education.
“[In the future], I would like to volunteer to work with young people and give presentations with respect to reproductive health.” – Tatiana
To combat these issues, Peace Corps Nicaragua organizes Camp GLOW for teenaged girls from all over the country who spend a week learning about themselves, discussing gender equality, and gaining skills to help them become leaders and catalysts for change in their communities. With a little extra push, I’m excited to see where Tatiana might end up. And with a small donation from you, Camp GLOW will have the funds it needs to be carried out this January.
This Christmas, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to make it possible. There are no overhead costs to this event, and 100% of the funds go to camp expenses. Make it a Christmas gift to Tatiana and help her attend camp: https://donate.peacecorps.gov/donate/project/camp-glow-2016/