Over the past school year, Chloe Smith-Frank '19 did a huge amount of work to raise money to support the construction of a school in Nicaragua through the organization BuildOn. Smith-Frank raised more than $13,000 towards the school, and in June, she and GFS Spanish teacher Rachel Bradburd trekked to Nicaragua for a week to help begin building the school in the community of El Chamarro #2, along with students from four other US schools.
Smith-Frank and Bradburd spent a week providing non-skilled labor support, doing cultural activities, and getting to know the community.
Each member of their 10-person team (two teacher chaperones and eight students from five different schools) got to place a brick on one of the exterior walls on their last day, putting a hand print on the outside so they could literally leave their mark on the school.
The school teams worked with four or five skilled laborers (engineers, etc.) as well as with eight men and eight women from the community; the community must agree to staff non-skilled laborers on the build, and every member must sign an agreement that they support the building of the school.
Since Smith-Frank, Bradburd, and the other school teams stayed with host families, many members of the group got to know school-aged children who will attend the school as soon as it is completed, including many of the kids pictured in the photo below.
Smith-Frank and Bradburd also got to visit the children at their current school one day, and taught them some basic English phrases as well as the song "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." The community currently has two small school buildings, but there are more school-aged children than can fit the space, so many children have to learn outside under the hot sun or in the rain. The local government agrees to staff schools with teachers based on the space they have, so by adding two more rooms, they are also guaranteed two more teachers.
"It was a pretty incredible journey, and I was so inspired and awestruck seeing Chloe lay a brick on the site of the school she worked so hard to raise money to build!" shared Bradburd.
A view from the top of a hill that overlooks the community. The roof tops are the homes of the community members.