27/04/2015 by cc_admin

May 9: fundraiser at SAMAAP

On Saturday, May 9 we will celebrate African Heritage at the Society of Friends of the West Indian Museum of Panama (SAMAAP)! Special guests:

  • Coco Solo Youth Congo Dance Group
  • Carlos Méndez
  • DJ Tinvalero
  • Jaguar Clandestino
  • Ela Spalding

Tickets cost $25, which includes refreshments, hor d’oeuvres, entertainment, and a good time. See you there!

You can make your donation prior to the event via PayPal at info at cambiocreativo dot org or our Banco General account: Fundación Cambio Creativo 04-05-01-732444-9 (savings account).

We will also accept cash donations at the event.

RSVP here. Place: The Society of Friends of the West Indian Museum of Panama (SAMAAP)

Date: Saturday, May 9, 2015

Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Directions: Google Map (in front of 5 de Mayo Metro station) fundraiser-flyer-samaap-0509

 

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26/04/2015 by cc_admin

Welcome Jeniffer!

jeniffer-garcia-in-a-paper-tiara Last year, we launched our student volunteer program, and we are excited to welcome a new intern this week! Jeniffer Garcia is a biology major at the University of Michigan who will be joining the Cambio Creativo team for two months, working closely with our educational program, but also providing support throughout the organization. Jeniffer is an enthusiastic and committed volunteer who has experience in literacy and language tutoring. Last year, she tutored low income students at the Bryant Community Center. Jeniffer has also tutored international students at the University of Michigan to improve their English and conversation skills at the LSA Language Institute and the Michigan Language Center. This year, Jeniffer also volunteered for the America Reads program at the University of Michigan, tutoring in Ypsilanti school to improve literacy skills through individual attention and instruction. Jeniffer said she hopes to gain another learning experience at Cambio Creativo. She also wants to “see first hand how a volunteer could make a difference” during her 8-week volunteer experience in Colon.

 

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24/04/2015 by cc_admin

Thank you Cambio Creativo for changing my world perspective

By Elías Santos Dubón, educational programming volunteer

My name is Elias, and I am from Honduras. Coming from a Central American country known for its hardships, I always had the impression that Panama was a rich country with a famous canal and economic luck. Although some of that turned out to true, what I never imagined was that in spite of the wealth, there are many places in Panama that are suffering the same hardships I see in my own country. I remember the first day we arrived in Colon on a bus from Panama City. Having seen tall buildings, clean streets and modern transportation, I was shocked to see the other side of the Canal in Colon with dilapidated buildings and littered streets.

Despite the fact that Colon was a forgotten city, I quickly learned to see beyond its physical appearance and see the great cultural wealth within its people and communities — something that seems to be lacking in its sister city of Panama. That feeling remained with me during my first days in the community of Coco Solo.

Surrounded by one of the largest ports in the Americas, the reality of the community of Coco Solo strikes a stark contrast to the millions of containers probably filled with enough goods to supply all the country’s citizens. In spite of the abandoned and crumbling buildings, when you enter Cambio Creativo’s center, the space where we work with the children, you feel transported to another world — the reality on the outside is one thing, but inside there is shining hope. During December and January I had the chance to be surrounded by youth, working with them in different workshops, such as crafts, recycled gifts, and holiday cookies. More than that, we shared and made an impact on each others’ lives.

Even though it was challenging to work without much infrastructure or support, the children’s energy motivated me to continue collaborating and helping develop the educational program. With support and inspiration from Michael Brown and Jesús Blanco we created an after-school program, hired a teacher, and conducted outreach to parents and students in Coco Solo. Then, in March we launched the program in Buena Vista.

Now, it’s been more than a month with the new program and I feel great pride with the progress and small successes each of the students, the program itself, and the staff has achieved in such a short period of time. The children who showed up from the beginning and gave me a hard time, have now united into a group that is inspiring other children in the community.

The transformation in their behavior and attitude to become leaders in their classrooms has been very inspiring for me. Although I feel sad to leave, I am certain they will be successful come the end of the school year and in the future. The months Elly and I have collaborated with Cambio Creativo have been educational and worthwhile. While in Panama, I met people with a big heart and vision for helping and supporting those most in need.

Thank you Michael, Jesús, Diana, Orlando, Melissa, Beatriz and the members of the Board of Directors for giving me the opportunity to be part of a great change which has changed my world perspective.

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23/04/2015 by cc_admin

The school year that seemed to never start

By Beatriz Abre, Cambio Creativo teacher

At the beginning of the school year, many children in Coco Solo are abuzz asking themselves, “Who will be my new teacher?” and “Will I meet new friends?”; while many others ask “Will I even go to school?”

The excitement overcomes many of the students, but there are other children waiting for an opportunity just to enter a classroom. Among those are three pre adolescent girls whose school years have been unstable: one year they’d go, the other year they didn’t. This was their reality.

They saw the school year arrive without hope that they would attend. It wasn’t until they started to participate in our afterschool program that they shared their dreams to go to school.

Immediately, we facilitated conversations with the school administrators, opening the way for these three low-income girls to be able to reach their dream: an education.

It was for them a great satisfaction to see their dreams become reality on April 6th, they walked to the new school and said to their neighbors and friends, “I am in school!”. The joy was reflected in their faces and in their spirit.

We feel satisfied that this was accomplished and we are thankful to those that helped to make the dream of these three girls going to school a reality.

cumplieron-su-sueno-de-ir-a-la-escuela

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17/04/2015 by cc_admin

We are taking our educational programming to the next level

By Melissa Mazurkewicz, Executive Director

Cambio Creativo has always been dedicated to youth education. For many years we have been offering workshops and activities related to education and creativity with the help of volunteer teachers, artists, activists, and workshop presenters from Panama and abroad. As we our organization becomes more structured, we have launched an after school program with elementary students. This year, thanks to a grant from the Strachan Foundation, we are consolidating our tutoring sessions and monthly workshops into an educational program focused on helping students with their homework, especially as it regards to math and reading, two important subjects for any individual. Participating students also receive a meal through our Soup Kitchen.

During February, Elias Santos Dubón started to provide math reinforcement and Spanish to a group of 7 children. In March, we hired an Education Coordinator, Beatriz Abre. Alongside her assistant, Kaina, they are tutoring in Coco Solo every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday to a group of 15 children. Starting this month, Beatriz started working in Buena Vista with a group of 13 kids. Towards the month, we will welcome our first volunteer teacher for 2015, Jeniffer García, a student from the University of Michigan, who will be with the organization for two months. launch-of-cambio-creativo educational-programming In addition to evaluating each student individually, Beatriz is in touch with their school teachers to ensure each child receives adequate and personalized attention. We will also conduct workshops throughout the year to integrate math and reading into artistic and culturally stimulating experiences that evoke creative thinking and the development of new skills.

This year’s goal is for each student to pass the school year successfully. We want to continue working the same cohort of students through high school, adding a new student as others graduate. Our overarching goal for this educational program is to contribute to a decrease in the high dropout rates in Colon, increase high school graduation rates and encourage these students to pursue higher education.

We thank the Strachan Foundation and individual donors for their support, especially Elias Santos Dubón and Jesús Blanco for making the educational program a reality!

 

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14/04/2015 by cc_admin

A dream come true: a multipurpose court in Buena Vista!

Note: This blog post was extracted from its original post on the Courts for Kids website. Read the original post here.

On March 19, 2015 a group of students from the College of Education at the University of Oregon traveled to Buena Vista to work alongside the community on a multipurpose court thanks to a partnership with Courts for Kids, an international NGO that connects volunteers with local organizations and communities to build courts in economically disadvantaged areas. Many thanks to Anibal for spearheading this life-changing project!

By Aníbal Cárdenas, Courts for Kids Panama Director

It was almost midnight when we arrived to the community, and we were surprised to see a group of community members waiting for us with fireworks, huge smiles and hugs.

The next morning we enjoyed traditional Panamanian food from the community and we started the prep work for the court that was partially started by the community. The group connected very well with the locals and gained their respect very quickly. Having a group that was composed of 13 women out of 16 total team members resulted in a cultural challenge of demonstrating that women can work as hard as men, but it was overcome easily.

We worked together despite a series of challenges, such as the mixer not working, the community running out of water and things happening on Panamanian time, which was a big test of patience for the group. Overcoming these challenges and delays, we worked extra hard, including evenings of work with headlamps.  The last being a 15 hour- journey proposed by the volunteers and the community. And so, on our 5th day of work we finished the first court with Courts for Kids in Panama! Excitement and joy were everywhere and both community members and volunteers went to bed with big smiles and great spirits.

In addition to the work, the two groups had plenty of time to connect with one another. Panamanians taught the US group some traditional dances, including a Congo dance that has been passed down for generations celebrating their African heritage. The US group taught the Panamanians how to Cha Cha Slide. Midway through the trip was the two year anniversary of the community, complete with more traditional dances from children, inspiring words from community leaders and culminating in an epic soccer showdown.

The day after finishing, the group went on a well-deserved city tour in Panama City: (Panama Canal, Causeway and Casco Viejo) where we could see the huge gap between the rich and the poor in the country. We could contrast what it is to live in both faces of reality for Panamanians.

The inauguration was beautiful. There were kids everywhere playing and enjoying the court. We played games, we had some beautiful words from our trip leaders and community members, we ate cake together and then lights went off in the community, but right on time for more fireworks, and a beautiful night full of bright stars, hopefully a foreshadowing of the future sports stars that will come out of Buena Vista!

A gigantic thank you to the Quest Foundation and all other sponsors who helped make this project possible.

 

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31/12/2014 by cc_admin

Congrats to the graduates!

Education is at the core of Cambio Creativo’s mission, which is why we so are proud of the students in Coco Solo and Buena Vista who are celebrating their mid-term and high school graduations this year. In particular, we would like to congratulate:

  • Reynaldo Rowe (mid-term, Buena Vista)
  • Benito Fernández (mid-term, Buena Vista)
  • Yarielis García (mid-term, Buena Vista)
  • Ada María Martínez (mid-term, Buena Vista)
  • Armando Álvares (mid-term, Coco Solo)
  • Joseph Cook (mid-term, Coco Solo)
  • Abdiel Rowe (high school, Buena Vista)
  • Ronaldo Fernández (high school, Buena Vista)
  • Kathy De León (high school, Coco Solo)

 

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30/11/2014 by cc_admin

A chain of love and a unique experience

By Jacquelin Tancredi, former teacher volunteer

I have always valued human connection and been fascinated by the power of its impact on our lives. It is natural to care for one another and teach one another because all though each of us is an individual, we are here together. Unfortunately, the world has been made up of very disheartening, and unjust systems that have corrupted our ability to be connected to one another by the instinctual feeling we are born with. I believe through education, by sharing experiences and knowledge, paired with the pursuit of happiness, we can together make our lives equal and together again.

February 2014, I moved to Panama to become a part of the community in Colon, Panama, more specifically, Coco Solo. I knew going in, that I wanted to become a part of the community there and really share my everything I could because my time there would only be about 4 months. For me, the best part of life is experiencing something completely out of your comfort zone and having every aspect of your surroundings new. This is exactly what moving there was for me.

My first day in Coco Solo was one of the most intense days of my life. It does not matter what happened, or how, but what does matter is that I will never forget it or how I felt. (But I am always more than happy to discuss with you if you ever want to reach out) In a matter of a few minutes of being there, I learned more about myself and the people there faster than I had learned anything before. We all have the innate ability to survive and work together. I also saw how instinctual it is to help one another without even knowing each other. I am like this, I am always aware of those around me, but to see it on such an extreme level and in such a unique place was an eye opener and a reminder of what is real.

This is something that is lost in the hustle and bustle of developed countries, and while undeveloped countries struggle in their own way, we all must understand with no thought at all, we succeed and thrive when we are together. I met Mikey Brown in a heroic circumstance the first few moments of my arrival at the center. He inspired and impressed me more than most people in my life and then we sat for hours talking. At the end of that first day, there was no need for words because we shared something in our souls that would last forever. We connected. We recognize and appreciate the most important parts of life. Unspoken, I knew we would be friends for a lifetime no matter where we were or what we were doing and the next 4 months would be better than I could have imagined.

I did not speak more than basic Spanish when I got there, but it did not matter. Universal language is spoken through expression, intonation and what is projected from your spirit. When I started working with the kids, I didn’t even remember that I did not speak Spanish because we just meshed. To be honest, when I think back, I don’t remember not understanding Spanish, because the kids taught me without me realizing it was happening. Lives merge together, children and adults the same become family. You learn from each other every moment. You are challenged more than ever before and you love what you do unconditionally.

For months now, I have struggled how to write a single post about my experience. I have written so much and then tried again, started something new and then tried again. Finally I decided it is not about my personal experience, because everyone’s is different, but it is about what the whole picture is. I can guarantee that living in Colon and having this magical yet incredibly difficult part of my life was one of the best things I have done so far. The community in Coco Solo gave me affirmation of my purpose. Never underestimate that we all live better when we are together and integrate ideas and lives.

I fell in love with each of those children and people and all I hope for is that I was able to share enough with them so that a part of me is there with them no matter where we may be. Each one of them is in my heart. I am left with all I learned from them and about myself, but grander than that, every day I think about how we can work together more and build a sustainable life that can continue all of their lives in supportive, ever growing environments. I know I will be back.

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02/11/2014 by cc_admin

Cambio Creativo has changed my life

By Erick Ariel Rodriguez Cambio Creativo turned my life around in significant ways. For the past eight and a half months, I have been studying in the Faeco school at Universidad de Colón (Colon University). I am currently studying Engineering and Business Operations and Logistics. Ever since I graduated from 12th grade, I always wanted to go to college, but life circumstances made it impossible. Or so it seemed. A great person came to my life, Pastor Michael Brown, and the wonderful Cambio Creativo team — Rose, Maya, Blake, Jesús, Wendy and others — who have offered me unconditional help and support. They gave me a hand and God willing I have been able to move forward and achieve one of my goals, which was to get into college. However, not everything has been a bed of roses. This year I lost the person I love the most, my mother. She was, and continues to be, my source of inspiration. I know I will achieve the goals I have set for myself because she always wanted to see me succeed. Dear mother, up in the heavens, I promise I won’t fail you. Cambio Creativo will also ensure I reach the end goal, just as those whom I may never meet who provide the economic support which pays for my studies. Scholarships like mine allow youth to focus on positive and uplifting things— such as our studies— and be an example for others in the community. Many thanks to Cambio Creativo, Pastor Mikey and our supporters for believing in me and supporting me. Their investment will reap rewards for its beneficiaries, including myself. God bless and keep watch over you as you come and go. I love you guys.

 

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27/10/2014 by cc_admin

Youth Voices from a Moving Community: A Workshop at Cambio Creativo

Last summer I had the opportunity of collaborating with Panamanian youths from Cambio Creativo in several activities that took place in Coco Solo and Buena Vista. As their community has started to move from the Panama Canal Zone, near Colón and the Atlantic sea, to the interior land of Buenavista, Cambio Creativo has been organizing projects that support the relocation process. From cutting giant grass to planting fruit trees to making music, youngsters actively participated in the moving process and learned to confront the challenges of re-starting a new life in another place. Among all the different experiences I shared with the community, the one that I would briefly discuss in this entry is a creative media workshop I helped to facilitate and that focused on music, rhyming and flow.

For the workshop we met with a group of 17 teenagers at the space of Cambio Creativo in Coco Solo. During the previous days, I have talked with several of these youngsters about Reggae, their favorite music, and about making rhymes and singing. Music was something that all of them loved it and were very interested in learning to make. Some of them, like David, were proud of their knowledge of computer software for DJ-ing, and others like Javier, used to carry headphones all the time for listening to his favorite tunes, even while doing heavy duties at the country side. Inspired by the values of positive and conscious hip hop, we designed the workshop in order to foster unity, diversity, and having fun.

The takeaways from this workshop are quite revealing since they show the effectiveness of participatory pedagogies for developing skills such as performing, writing, collaboration, and improvisation. I was really impressed by the talent of all the youths that participated in the workshop and loved they way in which they could easily create a genuine collective performance. The final performance was like a collective poem in which they openly expressed not only the favorite things (e.g. futbol, music, peers) but also the fears (e.g. racism, fights) they are experiencing during the relocation process their community is living.

- Andrés Lombana-Bermúdez

Read the original blog post and listen to the musical collaboration by Cambio Creativo’s Jóvenes Luchadores.


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