Week 2. Lima, Mexico City and Caracas.
Mama Gypsy goes to Mexico City, the family stays in Lima and we connect virtually with Caracas.
Time flies. It is very hard to believe that we are already well into our adventure. Two weeks!!!
First, an update on our apartment: We found our tenants 👏👏👏👏 We can sleep peacefully knowing our place is in great hands. Thanks Newton for all the tireless work!
This week was intense both in Lima and in Mexico City. I [Hazel] spent Most of the week in Mexico City running an amazing Culture Change Workshop for Nielsen, a client super close to my heart and with a team that raised the bar even higher!
Many learnings and incredible connections were made. Every time I share the story of the Learning Gypsies people jump to help; mainly in the form of sharing their network with us. It is a magical thing to be living and I am super grateful for that.
Meanwhile, in Lima, Papa Gypsy Iñaki and Grandma Gypsy [Julia] connected and visited schools, set up meetings with psychologists, and explored the future of ed with change-maker Fundacion Telefonica. The Gypsy kids took a workshop on emotional intelligence and started their Karate class, focused on channeling energy. We are so happy we get to give them these opportunities in Lima that we truly can’t afford in NYC.
As we wrap up our second week in Lima, the panorama is beginning to crystallize. Like we heard from the people at Santillana, Peru is a country of disparity. There is a lot of interest from some principals, teachers, parents and kids to embrace a new way of learning. But the cost of innovation is high, specially in Peru.
Everybody wants the best education they can afford for their kids, but there are different points of view about what that education will serve the kids for in the future. Some parents want their kids to get a global perspective so they can become global citizens, some want their kids to get the grades to will let them go to college, and some want their kids to become happy and active members of their community.
In all cases, the schools can’t achieve these goals alone. They need the support and involvement of the parents, and, more importantly, a close collaboration with the department of education (Ministerio de Educación) to offer Peruvian students a modern and competitive curriculum.
“Peru in many ways is not even in the XX century yet, how can we dream of a XXI century education.” shared with us a mother while we were discussing the future of education.
Armando, our new friend, recommended us to go to see the play Aura written and produced by the talented Camila Zavala. It was an impressive representation of how the system, society and even parents block kids’ imagination. One of our favorite theater experiences ever! If you are in Lima go see it with your kids, running until August 14th, get tickets here.
El Comercio’s Viu Magazine, a women’s publication, wrote a piece about us (Grandma Gypsy [Julia] and I [Hazel]) which has given us more access to people exploring the future of ed in Perú. Thanks Lizzy for the great idea and for making it happen.
To close and thanks to our first GoFundMe investors, we hosted our first Learning Party! We had 16 kids join us. We played ice-breakers, had fun with improv sessions, and learned by asking them questions. We also asked them to draw their favorite day in school so far, and it was so telling to see that 80% drew a moment outside of school; either a field trip or right after pick up. Amongst other questions we asked them “If you could get anything in the world, what would it be?” The answers were so humbling, these are just a few:
I want to be with my family forever
I want popcorn
I would like my mom to live forever (a few said this)
I wish there was no more violence in the world
Below our learnings from the amazing people we visited and interviewed.
I had been at the Telefonica office in Lima a year ago for a workshop we did with Movistar, and I knew how picky they are with devices, so decided to arrived a bit earlier, to avoid being held at the front desk more time than necessary.
Having the full our to learn from Lillian turned out to be a smart decision. Fueled by their mission to bring education to those who don’t have access to it, Fundación Telefonica has created a series programs that give access to education and technology to those in remote rural areas in Peru (Aula Movil), to children in Hospitals (Aulas Hospitalarias), and to kids in low income areas (Fe y Alegria Schools).
We also met Jose Carlos Vasquez, a consultant on Education and Technology of Fundacion’s, who told us about some of the challenges these programs face; even when schools have access to tech, n rural areas some teachers don’t know how to utilize it, many students leave school to work, and it’s hard to make autonomy sustainable in less inclusive areas.
Fundacion’s team has a mantra that brings to life their work focus: “we start where asphalt ends”.
We saw again the idea of teacher training as one of the keys to improve education, and Lillian observed that learning happens mainly in 2 systems; the home and family system, and another one is the school and work system. That any learner needs a support community in both systems for education to be successful.
Lillian and Jose Carlos invited us to visit with them some of the Aula Moviles and we can’t wait to see them in the actual towns “where the asphalt ends”.
My favorite quote from our chat was “without developing social skills, you’ll have a handicap as a professional” (in response to the challenges to homeschooling”
Creative Mornings (Lima Hosts)
Amaia and I went to Arabica to meet with Karina Pastor and Cristian Situ from Creative Mornings Lima, and while Amaia enjoyed 4 different desserts, I truly enjoyed Karina and Cristian’s story of launching and nurturing the CM crowd in Lima.
We talked about Enseña Peru, an organization that works to bring equality and elevate the quality of education in Peru by developing change makers leaders. We can’t wait to meet with them next week.
We’ll see Kary and Cristian again this Saturday the 21st, at the Creative Mornings talk by Luciana Olivares.
Manuela Lara, Director of Digital Business at Santillana Spain introduced us to the Santillana Team in Lima.
Santillana is the main Publisher of school text books in Peru, which gives them unique perspective about the present and future of education.
We talked about Peru being a country of disparity, with schools cost, teachers skills, access to education, and parents expectations vary depending on financial status and location.
We were honored that 4 people from Santillana joined the conversation, because it made it so much richer and interesting. Specially when w talked about traditional education systems and innovative ones… “even if you know that you need to change, you need to know how to change”
Javier Quincoces, Alfonso Benavides, Giuliana Crousillat y Dora Véliz gave us several recommendation of people to meet and schools to visit, including schools in emergent areas like San Juan del Urigancho, and recommended we meet with Hermana Maria Antonieta from Consorcio de Colegios Catolicos.
My favorite quote was “Education involves more than just going to school. Education requires the whole society to be educational”
Dawere — Caracas
We had a better than usual wifi signal, which made our Skype conversation possible even with the camera on!
Alvaro has a clear vision for his project: To give schools and teachers access to the right technology driven tools to bring quality education into every classroom in Venezuela.
We talked about schools in the cloud, smartphone penetration and mobile habits in Venezuela. I love learning about projects like this, at the edge of the system, but still in the inside, finding ways to scale and get funding.
Alvaro also gave us an amazing gift: A study of the most innovative projects in Education across Latin América! You can download Graduate XXI here
Robotix (in Mexico City)
Since I [Hazel] was in Mexico City, the wonderful Rafaella Leon from Somos Magazine in Peru introduced me to Roberto Saint Martin, the brilliant and humble mind that created Robotix. She met him during the Virtual Educa conference in Puerto Rico a few weeks ago. I met R🤖b, who was generous to invest time in meeting me in very short notice. We sat down in a coffee shop in Condesa, and seriously lost track of time. Especially me. I was completely mesmerized by the story of Robotix, an education system that in my humble opinion can potentially revolutionize education.
Roberto and a few of his classmates during their robotics college life at Tech de Monterrey decided to make robotics fun! They realized that during their first years of college they had not really learned much more than theory, and that only during the last year the fun begun. As an experiment they tried applying their learnings into fun labs for other college students. Then they decided to explore with kids… “what if we teach kids about robotics in a fun way?” They explored at small scale for a year and had many learnings. One summer, they had a retreat and something extraordinary happened: They decided to turn the classroom into adventure centers!
This journey begun 16 years ago, and today the Robotix methodology improves the lives of 30,000 kids across Mexico. Kids come to their Robotix class which take place in different environments designed to resemble the universe or a jungle. Kids are given a challenge; like saving the planet from aliens, and they accomplish these via building robotic solutions. What this approach achieves is to build self-confidence, trust, exploration and the ability to fail and learn fast. “Kids like going to their Robotix class so much, parents threten their kids with not letting them go if they don’t do something at home they are supposed to” shared Rob with a super proud grin. He, his cofounders and director of pedagogy never expected to become such a powerful part of children’s learning experiences. They found an opportunity let kids’ imagination flourish and step away from their traditional way of learning (memorizing, standardizing and not motivating.)
The tools and methodology they use helps kids:
Learn by doing
Exercise their creative muscle, constantly and iteratively.
Develop their emotional intelligence through repeated trial and error.
Fall in love with learning.
Have fun while finding solutions.
They are now using gamification to promote kids to continue developing skills they will need once they go into the world. Also they are training teachers all around the country to empower them with the right skills to guide students through their challenges. Soon their transformative methodology will be available in a “box”, I can’t wait to have access to it!
My favorite quote:
I love seeing kids find and love their identity and feel empowered to change the world
Many people are asking us what we are doing to pull this off. The complex answer would be that “we are crazy enough to think we can improve the way kids learn.” The simple answer is “one day at the time with lots of discipline and structure.” Also, we count with a community of people who like us are wondering “how can I guide my kids in a world I don’t understand?” So these like-minded people are the fuel that keeps us going. Like Deny, who has been such thing incredible support since day 1. Thank you for connecting us to people in Mexico City.
The Learning Gypsies.