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Congratulations to the Global Citizens Award Finalists

The Global Citizens Award is sponsored by AASSA and AASSA Partner Member TIECare in honor to recognize the amazing projects and service-minded students from our region. Congratulations to this year’s finalists! We Are so honored of the positive impact you are making in your communities!

Friends Through Sign Language

American School of El Salvador, San Salvador, El Salvador

Students(s): Jose Guillermo Avelar Caballero, Juan Fernando Hurtado Garcia, Federico Bolanos Pacas, Javier Andres Menendez Gasteazoro, Francisco Javier Escalante Santos

Friends Through Sign Language, or F.T.S.L, is an independent project focused on creating an avid educational environment for deaf children throughout El Salvador. This task is successfully met by imparting academic support in different areas, providing the necessary material for deaf education and also establishing a sense of friendship between each volunteer and the child. In October 2018, Guillermo Avelar discovered an academic support program, Proyecto Fátima, which taught deaf kids in economical need. These kids were previously educated at a christian private school for the deaf, but budget mismanagement led to its close. This concerned many of the parents, as they wanted an appropriate education for their kids, something not really met by the public school system. Thus, Fatima Alas, one of the school’s old teachers, created Proyecto Fátima to continue giving these kids an appropriate education in a healthy environment. Following this discovery, Guillermo was deeply moved by the childrens’ educational conditions, as there were many who still could not read fluently at 10, 11 or 12 years old. This led to him creating a support project that would try to increase the educational opportunities of these kids, called Friends Through Sign Language. With the help of his peers, Federico Bolaños and Juan Fernando Hurtado, they have created a successfully run program that not only teaches these children language, mathematics and character building classes throughout the week, but also focus on aiding the children to obtain the successful learning environment through other medians; the donation of 20,000 worth of hearing aids with the help of Starkey Foundation, educational field trips every month, and more.

Biblioteca a Tuto

American School of Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala Student: Kira Jacobs Overview written by Kira Jacobs

Thinking about Guatemala’s reality is what made “Biblioteca a Tuto” come to life. I knew I was going to be visiting a school with limited resources with some of my classmates from the American School of Guatemala, and my goal was to create a sustainable project to benefit the school, its students, and the community. But I wanted to do something that would last, something that would help and be with these kids for the rest of their lives. When I started thinking about what I wanted to do as a project, only one thing made sense for me. I would share my passion for reading! My father said to me ever since I was little, “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” Similarly, it is better to teach people to read and foster a love of reading than to simply give books. I have always believed in helping someone to be independent, and I kept this in mind while designing my project. I knew the school in Lagunas Cuaches didn’t have a library, and having limited resources and a small budget, the school couldn’t provide reading material for the students. This meant that their reading skills couldn’t improve, and I wanted to do something about it. This is how I started thinking about my project.

In the indigenous culture, it has always impressed me how women work just as hard as men, and while working, the mothers tend to tie their children to their backs, kind of like a piggyback ride. In Guatemala, we call this “a tuto”, and this is how I came up with my project name “Biblioteca a Tuto”, which means library on the back. Instead of having a box full of books, I decided I would provide them with backpacks that they could take home with books. After a week of reading with their families, they would bring both the books and the backpack back to the school. Then, another student would have the opportunity to do the same thing with their family for a week.

Having done this project not only had an impact on the school, the kids, and the community, but it had an impact on me. I learned so many things about myself. I learned that sharing my passions and helping other people makes me happy. I also saw the impact I made on the kids, teachers, and principals in the school. They aren’t used to having so many resources, but when they saw what a book can do to change their lives, a new path was opened in their minds, a new future.

Ayudando Abrigando

Colegio FDR, Lima, Peru

Student(s): Ainoha Siucho, Miguel Uccelli, Francesco Mufarech, Marcelo Makhlouf

“Photo credit: Ayudando Abrigando FB page”

Ayudando Abrigando is a non-profit civil association that turns plastic bottles and raw plastic into a material for blankets that get delivered to communities around Peru who suffer from low temperatures or have been victims of natural disasters. It was founded by four 13-year old teenagers that wanted to have an impact in their community. After three years of operations, they noticed that there was a problem with the regulations in Peru regarding environmental and recycling policies. Due to this, the program Ayudando Abrigando has started dialoguing and conversations with the Ministry of Environment to create effective environmental and recycling laws.


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