To us, the development process is about more than simply transferring funds from North America to Latin America. We believe the personal investment keeps this process human, relatable and sustainable. We work with hundreds of students across Canada and America who are eager to learn, share, and explore the world. Outreach Trips channel that energy into constructive projects that enrich the experience and knowledge of our volunteers and host communities.
Most importantly, these trips contribute to the production of a generation of active and aware citizens that are able to think and relate to what is outside their immediate world. We believe equipping students with this experience will allow them to make positive actions for change, regardless of their career or occupation.
We prioritize working with local organizations and community members to ensure that our projects are reflective of community needs, and fluid with existing structures, cultures, struggles and accomplishments. Furthermore, their proximity to the projects contributes to overall cost efficiency.
We admittedly approach communities with a bias towards holistic education; however, it is one that is routinely reiterated and reinforced through partners and communities. We believe education is a fundamental component of breaking the cycle of poverty and is an aspect we feel we can effectively contribute towards.
To avoid imposition of values, it is of utmost importance to us that the communities show an interest and commitment to education prior to our involvement. With the help of our partners, we seek out regions that currently run classes but lack aspects of the supportive infrastructure. We also seek out regions that make efforts in education development, but have their efforts stunted through distance, natural disaster, or economic reasons which make gaining access to a quality education impossible.
To us, holistic education means much more than sporadically building schools where it suits us and our volunteers.It means taking a sustained interest in communities, especially since building schools does not itself grant education. Our experience has revealed a multiplicity of secondary questions that must be addressed. Some continue to be related to infrastructure: Where does the teacher live? How do students get to school? What obstacles do they face getting to school? What resources are available to the students outside the classroom? Other questions relate to incentives and barriers to education: Why don’t students attend class? How is lost income from turning laborers into students addressed? How do we facilitate the transition between international help and government help? How do we support the creation of sustainable projects and communities?
Holistic education also means contextualizing small communities within the greater region and history. Our communities are selected within a broader vision for the region. In many of our communities, the vision revolves around an idea of more accessible education for indigenous populations. Other times, the vision is to rebuild communities affected by natural disasters.
Our volunteer-based outreach trips are the final step (second last to continual monitoring) in both our development process abroad and our volunteer experience at home. This is a chance for mutually-beneficial learning at both the community and participant level.