e-collaborate collected dozens of gently used and new electronics to help facilitate greater use of technology in the classroom for students at Atiltan Multicultural Academy (AMA) in Panajachel, Guatemala. I recently delivered a tablet, mini notebook, i-phones, mp3 players, cameras, camcorders and more donations to the school. I happened to be there during a celebration of a student’s birthday and the end of final exams. Below are photos of the festivities!

AMA is a k-12 English immersion school located in a former hotel on the edge of beautiful Lake Atitlan. Since the classrooms are former hotel rooms, class sizes are kept very small and students receive greater individual attention from teachers. There are 70 students in the entire k-12 school. The majority of the students receive sponsorships to cover their school fees and faculty works hard to raise funds to be able to provide education to even more students. They are hoping to be able to increase their student body to 115 in the coming school year, which will require moving school buildings.

Interestingly, many of the students are trilingual or even quadrilingual. They speak one or more indigenous languages in their home, Spanish in their community, and English in the classroom. The technology provided will help reinforce their language skills in and outside of the classroom. Spanish teachers frequently use local radio stations for language activities, which is a very practical application of the language and technology. Teachers also load English audio books and games to mp3 players so that students can hear and practice the language during their long commutes home. Since the school does not have a computer lab, it sometimes requires students to complete online homework assignments at internet cafes. However, some students live in very remote areas that do not have any internet service. Through our donations and the use of internet sticks, these students will be able to complete online assignments after school hours.

Being able to access different types of technology at school is a very important experience for students. Many in this part of the world would otherwise not have the opportunity to acclimate themselves to the use of technology since they are not exposed to it in their homes. This is an important skill to have in the 21st century and one that future employers assume that the younger generation will naturally have. Many young people, especially in the developed world, are already able to operate tablets and smart phones by the time they are three years old. It becomes almost an innate skill for these children. It is important that schools are able to provide this learning experience to students since it cannot be guaranteed that they have the same opportunities at home, and if they do not, it is a risk that they will fall behind in the highly technologically driven world we live in.

~Beth Davis, Manager of Educational Programs

pinyataBirthday girl and her pinata.

pinyata 5Kids scrambling for the pinata goodies.

roofView from the top of the school.