It’s about that time that many of the courses we’ve been teaching are coming to an end. Just last week we wrapped up our entrepreneurship class, named Construye Tus Sueños, or Build Your Dreams. The course takes you through each step of developing a business plan, from evaluating your business idea, to planning out the financial situation.
We had 11 students finish the course, write a full business plan, and present it in front of a panel of local judges. It was a formal wrap-up to the class and I felt so proud watching my students defend their idea and use technical vocab they had learned in the class without flinching.
Rafael was our motivational speaker as he opened up a restaurant after completing the same course a couple of years ago. He encouraged the youth to not hold back in fear, but to use their skills to reach for their goals.
Here in Paraguay, certificates are part of the end of almost every course or workshop or event. They are very important. They represent what you’ve accomplished and they are saved and showed off in a sort of portfolio. Almost like a big ol’ resume.
How to properly present these certificates is a skill we’ve mastered over the past two years.
The person’s name is called. They come forward while the audience claps. The certificate is presented (perhaps a photo is snapped at this point) and then the rest of the line shakes hands or double kisses the cheek and congratulates the participate.
Then usually another photo is snapped with the certificate shown.
It was a very fun, energetic, smart group of participants. Now the class is over but we’re working with one student, Day, who is pictured in the very first photo of this post, who we invited to attend the national level business plan workshop with us in July. She’s worked hard to polish up her plan, which we submit by tomorrow for the national-level judges to read and critique. At the July workshop, there is even seed funding to be awarded to help some businesses really get off the ground.
Wednesday saw us wrapping up another class, this time a computer one. We were asked to teach a computer skills class to local teachers who were given a laptop through a government program. The purpose of this gift was to help them with their work as teachers, but the reality was that many of them had little knowledge or confidence in how to use them.
We taught how to move around in the computer, save files and retrieve them once again, and create folders for organizing all those documents. We taught the basics of creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations and finished the course by creating an email account for each of the 15 participants.
It was fun to work with a whole room full of adults, as many of the other courses we’ve taught over the years have been more widely attended by youth. It was also fun to slip in some of my favorite teaching strategies into the teaching of this class, in the hopes it could spark some new ideas that the teachers could put in to practice in their own classrooms.
Wednesday marked the end, so more certificates, speeches, and snacks ensued. It was touching to hear some of the impromptu speeches the participants gave about how much the course meant to them. They mentioned feeling overwhelmed and scared of breaking the computer before the class and now they have confidence that they can get around and make good use of the machines.
They were excited to already be putting the lessons into practice at their work and thanked us for the confidence the course gave them to keep up with their technology-adept colleagues.
Isaiah and I were even surprised to receive certificates of our own, presented by the superintendent, as a symbol of their thanks to us for implementing the course.
It was a very sweet group of people and in a way it’s sad to see these things coming to an end. In another way, it feels great to be wrapping things up with a bow, a certificate…and an empanada.