Could you work for a few weeks as an English language assistant at a rural school?
Colegio Paulo Freire is an independent high school (16-19 years) based in Huehuetla, a rural community in the highlands of Puebla. Huehuetla is the name in Náhuatl given by the Aztecs, meaning ‘the old place of old folks’, but its name in Totonaco is Kgoyom, which means ‘assembly of the parrots’, and when you hear the local birdsong, you will understand why!
In Huehuetla/Kgoyom, most young people speak Totonaco as a first language and Spanish second. A few speak Náhuatl, and a only a few speak Spanish as their sole language. Bilingual students have a natural advantage for learning languages, but in rural communities resources and opportunities are few. At Colegio Paulo Freire, conditions may be basic but ambitions are high – many students want to go to university, and the university entrance exam includes a test in English. In order to be a language assistant:
- You don’t need to be a trained teacher
- You do need to freely share your time, lead games, music or activities, eat together, hang out and encourage your new friends to speak with you in English, rather than Spanish
- In return you will gain a unique living and working experience, a million miles away from the typical tourist and backpacker trail
- You might even learn some Totonaco!
Everyone at the school is a volunteer. Some practical help can be provided by Lucia Brandi if she is in Mexico, or you can be put in touch with other volunteers in Puebla who can advise you further.
Staff and postgraduates in the Department of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies of the University of Liverpool are collaborating with colleagues at the BUAP (Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla) to support Colegio Paulo Freire. We can also help you apply for a small travel grant which may defray some of the costs of volunteering. For more information, please contact Lucia Brandi (Lucia.Brandi@liv.ac.uk) or call 0151 794 3081.