Lindsey Schurman In Liberia – Day 4

Lindsey Int PhotoIn May 2016, Lindsey Schurman, Manager of Client Services atDentalXChange and a representative of the EHG Fund, went to Monrovia, Liberia to attend Full Learning Center’s Conference to see firsthand, the changes and challenges the Full Circle Learning has had to deal with to help that community. She was king enough to write a daily log so we can read about her adventures. 

Day 4 

20160527_104823We were lucky to start day 4 without rain. This allowed us to visit two schools outside of Monrovia, Korto and New Hope. The schools were about an hour’s drive away. This was not because it was a long distance away but required a large distance of driving over unpaved roads to get to the school. These roads were difficult to drive along and required much care. This is the case for most roads that lead to villages in Liberia. Davidson explained that the road to Korto had been slated for paving multiple times but when it came time to pave the road they were told by the government there was no money.

The school in Korto had planned to do a service project in town this Friday but was unable to due to the weather of the week. This is an area that has faced a great amount of gender based violence and one of the classes had planned a project to go out in to the community to ask about what ways they could do something in the community to prevent it. Instead we were able to visit the classrooms of each grade to meet the students. The school was no bigger than the 2 floors of our office building but there are currently just over 500 students enrolled. Additionally, the principal shared that over 100 students had left over the course of the year due to the inability to afford tuition.

Each class welcomed us and we had the opportunity to see some of the lessons. We entered the preschool class as they practiced their ABC’s, the first grade class as they practiced reading and the twelfth grade class as they spoke about the age of imperialism. We got to speak with teachers from all grade levels during a quick recess and watch the children play.

kids-school-yardWe then went to New Hope, a school that has remained tuition free to allow students the ability to attend school when they would otherwise be unable to. The director of this school was sick with typhoid at the time and was not able to make it to the school to meet us. Unfortunately when we arrived, school was done for the day but several children remained for the afternoon. Two girls were preparing for a performance on Saturday and we got to see them dance in traditional African outfits. I received a tour of the school from one of the teachers. Each of the classrooms I saw was small with only a few desks; in some cases, 2 or 3 grade levels were taught in the same room. After the tour I was told about what the school had done to assist with learning during the Ebola crisis. At the time, schools, business, government programs, etc. were closed and people were very afraid to go outside and interact due to the easy spread of the disease. It was described as a ghost town. In order to continue educating students that wished to continue learning, this particular school held classes underneath the mango trees just outside the grounds. The classes were so popular students had to be turned away when class size got to big to maintain.

After visiting schools, we drove to central Monrovia where we went to a library run by a program called We Care Liberia. This program and library were started to encourage pleasure reading, which would assist with the literacy problem in Liberia. The program also publishes books by Liberian authors to promote writing from the community. Several students were using the space to study and a volunteer with the library was giving a talk on Early Childhood Development and the necessity of literature in this process.

20160527_172453It was a very enlightening day that ended with pizza in central Monrovia followed by reviewing the newspaper articles that published a review of our conference from the day before with glowing remarks!

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Lindsey Schurman In Liberia – Day 3


Lindsey Int PhotoIn May 2016, Lindsey Schurman, Manager of Client Services atDentalXChange and a representative of the EHG Fund, went to Monrovia, Liberia to attend Full Learning Center’s Conference to see firsthand, the changes and challenges the Full Circle Learning has had to deal with to help that community. She was king enough to write a daily log so we can read about her adventures. 

Day 3 – Education as Community Transformation

Today was such an inspirational and information packed day that I don’t know where to begin…

20160526_095438After arriving at a wonderfully decorated hall done by the volunteers of the FCL we started off by setting up the presentation then attempting to assist with registration as people began to flood in right before 10am. Once again, we had been hit with very bad rains overnight that made the attendance of so many that much more special. By the time we began, most of the seating was full and we were still waiting for 2 schools to arrive.

The conference started with a bang featuring speeches regarding the current state of education in Liberia and how change begins with programs like Full Circle Learning, as well as a speech focusing on the integrity of the community and instilling this in the children beyond the classroom.

20160526_105134Next, children from all 5 schools in attendance sang a song together. Davidson then walked through the program, thanked all those in attendance and spoke of the goals of the day. We were then able to see a presentation by two schools, one a quiz setup by elementary school children about modes of transportation and a role play portraying the importance of personal character.

Teresa then gave a speech about the Full Circle Learning organization. We were taught so much about the history of the curriculum, the locations and projects made out of Full Circle Learning, as well as the ideals that impact students, teachers, and parents alike in building a better community. It was inspiring to hear about the growth in Liberia alone! Since 2010, Full Circle Learning has been brought to 81 schools in Liberia with more wanting to be involved! The programs impacted by the EHG Fund stretch 5 counties in Liberia and impacts so many lives. Besides Liberia, this program has reached so many other countries as well. The impact of the program was felt in the room as so many people came together to hear and learn more.Teachers Lib

After Teresa was finished we heard from a student and two teachers about the service projects completed in schools. Beauty shared a story about the death of her mother and the initiative and compassion shown by her students in her time of mourning. The children collected food and helped raise funds and brought it to the funeral home and mourned with Beauty during her time of need. The story brought many people to tears, me included.

The day continued on with an open discussion about changes that can be made by the teachers, organizations looking to enhance education and the students themselves. More powerful speeches were given relating to changing the community that included ideas from different sectors. The entire day flew by as we played clapping games instead of applause and heard jokes from the emcee.

The conference was such a success across the board! You could see the excitement for participation from each group of attendees. It was such an honor to be a part of today. And the next one is already in planning!

IBe A Candle finished my day by quizzing Teresa about her life experiences and the journey Full Circle Learning has taken over the last 24 years. Tomorrow, we visit schools and hope for no rain so we can complete a service project with the kids.

Lindsey Schurman In Liberia – Day 2

Lindsey Int PhotoIn May 2016, Lindsey Schurman, Manager of Client Services at DentalXChange and a representative of the EHG Fund, went to Monrovia, Liberia to attend Full Learning Center’s Conference to see firsthand, the changes and challenges the Full Circle Learning has had to deal with to help that community. She was king enough to write a daily log so we can read about her adventures. 

Day 2

Delegation of NGOs meet at conference (1)Last night there was a torrential downpour that washed out our agricultural project scheduled for this morning and delayed the arrival of Dr. Teresa Langness, the President and Founder of Full Circle Learning. Davidson, Justin, Beauty (the director of the FCL program in Zambia) and I started the morning discussing the conference with a number of people involved in the planning. We went over the scheme of events, made any changes to the plan and brainstormed creative ways to manage the great number of people expected to attend. Davidson is still receiving calls from new individuals that want to be involved and the expected number of attendees is over 300 including the Minister of Education in Liberia! They are anticipating at least 50 students and up to 200 teachers.

We spent the next couple of hours compiling the packets for tomorrow’s attendees while the fans attempted to cool us (me) in the heat of the day. Several stories were shared of the positive experiences that have come out of the program. I was brought to tears by the teamwork and leadership of the children that are taught by teachers like Beauty. I know I will hear so many more stories at the conference tomorrow.

20160526_084359We then adventured to the venue and planned all decorations needed from town.  The available pieces and options were very limited and I will be surprised to see how so many people will fit in such a small space tomorrow. The five of us followed up this trip with another adventure to town where I got to try some rice with greens and fish Davidson had and I got to see how people drive, as if road lanes are a suggestion. I also got to experience the different cityscapes Monrovia has to offer. The streets were crowded with vendors and people. Monrovia has not been what I expected but also not what I am used to.

Today has been an experience in learning so much more of the curriculum Full Circle Learning is teaching, the difference it is making and learning about daily life in Liberia (and Zambia from Beauty). I even had Davidson teach me some words in their local language! The language uses English words and shortens them by taking letters off the end.

20160528_131724The day ended with dinner with Dr. Langness, where she told me about the beginnings of Full Circle Learning and her individual experiences with each of the different communities that have become a part of the FCL family. She is an inspiration to all.

 

To read about Lindsey’s Day 1 adventure click here.

Lindsey Schurman In Liberia – Day 1

Lindsey Int PhotoIn May 2016, Lindsey Schurman, Manager of Client Services at DentalXChange and a representative of the EHG Fund, went to Monrovia, Liberia to attend Full Learning Center’s Conference to see firsthand, the changes and challenges the Full Circle Learning has had to deal with to help that community. She was king enough to write a daily log so we can read about her adventures. 

Day 1 

I am now in Liberia! After 3 long flights, I’ve finally made it.

Getting off the plane we walked out onto the tarmac to board a bus and I instantly noticed the incredible humidity. It is very hot and rainy here. During my journey I was lucky to meet another man traveling to Liberia to see his wife. He really helped by getting me through the customs process. Upon reaching the terminal, we washed our hands and had our temperature taken; these are new requirements due to the Ebola outbreak over the last few years.

20160525_160316After getting through customs, I was a bit lost and confused. Thankfully, I was quickly greeted by Davidson, the Program Director of the Full Circle Learning – Liberia and Justin, a volunteer for the program, who helped me to the car to begin our drive to Monrovia.

20160525_160926We drove for about an hour from the airport to Sinkor, where the hotel is located, just outside Monrovia. Over the course of the drive, Davidson showed me different sites along the road. I asked questions about the war that took place up until 1995 and the impact Ebola had on the Full Circle Learning program as schools had been shut down at that time.

Due to the overnight flight I spent the afternoon resting. I look forward to meeting the other Full Circle Learning friends that will be arriving today.

After a wonderful resting period and dinner, I went for a walk with two of the girls that volunteer with Full Circle Learning. I was able to walk by their office and see the hustle and bustle of the early evening in Monrovia. The girls told me about the seasons and some about life in Liberia.

Tomorrow we will be participating in an agricultural project and I have planned another walk to see some more of the city with Betsy.

Check back next week to read Day 2 of Lindsey’s adventure in Liberia.