The Learning Center……an intern’s point of view……
Hey there! My name is Casey Coyle. I am from the wonderful Bluegrass state of Kentucky and graduated from the University of Kentucky (Go Cats!!), majoring in Spanish. In 2014, I went on a week-long mission trip to El Ayudante and couldn’t get enough, so I came back again in 2015 and 2016. There was something that left me wanting more each time I returned home. After 3 times, the Lord graciously gifted me the opportunity to do a 4-month long internship in the new Learning Center (Centro de Aprendizaje) from February to June this year. Teaching and using Spanish for me was a no-brainer. Of course I wanted to use both of my passions in my favorite place!
Going into this, I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but that was the sweetest part. I knew I would be in charge of scholarship communication between sponsors and scholars, as well as serving as one of the tutors teaching English, Spanish, Math and Science. Getting to be there for the beginning of the scholarship school year and grand opening of the new Learning Center was a huge blessing. Because the Learning Center was new, I was given the freedom to try out different things and teach the way I felt comfortable – letting my creativity flag fly! Getting to work so closely with Josué and Elizabeth was something I am so beyond thankful for – both so patient and willing to let me find my element!
What blew me away the first week was the fact that these students had absolutely no idea what “tutoring” was. They’ve gone to school, yes, but they’ve never had reinforcements come in to help them with their homework. The first week of tutoring was interesting because they would walk in with nothing but a pencil because they didn’t know we needed their textbooks to know what they’re learning.
Tutoring them was so much more than you would think. It’s wasn’t just hopping on a computer to print pictures for an upcoming project. It was showing them how to type, where the backspace button is, how to conduct a Google search, how to copy and paste – all to print out a few images. It took so long to teach a simple task and sometimes honestly, I got frustrated, but when I stepped outside of myself and did a heart check, I realized that we take so many things for granted in the states. Everything is easily accessible and easy to do, but in the Learning Center, I had to remember that some of those students have actually never used a computer before. From that perspective, it was an incredible opportunity and blessing to tea ch them those things, equipping them for the future.
The joy of getting to work so closely with these students was really getting to see their personalities come out, seeing what they struggle with, experience successes with them and share the unbelievable grace our Father has given us. One of my favorite things throughout those 4 months was how our students would utilize our library. These kids don’t have public libraries and the cost of a book isn’t an option to buy if a family is living in poverty. So, once kids first began reading, they realized it’s FUN and were eager to dive in to a book. These kids LOVE to read and they didn’t even know it!! Picture the imagination, creativity and ideas that will sprout because these kids got to lose themselves in an engaging story! That kind of stuff gets me fired up to see where the Learning Center will go in the future! It makes me think of this quote:
“What if the cure for cancer was trapped inside the mind of someone who can’t afford an education?”
Our hope with the Learning Center is to provide a safe, accepting, loving place for students to learn, ask questions, whether it be about school, life, or Jesus, and to have fun. We want these kids to know more than anything that their worth is defined by Christ and our mission is to display that in all ways possible. God only has the best things for us, so we are striving to provide the best for our students. Just in 4 months, I have seen a huge impact and sense of trust and bonding between students and tutors. They are believing in themselves and taking ownership of their education. I can only imagine what 10 years down the road will look like for this place. Our motto is “Changing lives, transforming communities” and the lifelong impact the Learning Center will have on generations will absolutely transform communities. Every small and big victory in the Learning Center brings glory to our Heavenly Father who won the ultimate victory on the cross. Needless to say, God is doing big things with the Learning Center and I miss my students so very much every single day. But knowing that Jesus is the one who does the actual work and is ever-present with them is something I can only thank God for.