Helping Overcome Obstacles Peru (HOOP) is a nonprofit that seeks to fill a void in the South American country’s public education system by offering free English classes. HOOP facilitates community change that goes beyond the acquisition of a new language – it holds the potential to unlock doors to prosperity for the youth of Arequipa.
As a subject, English is taught minimally at most Peruvian schools. However, learning the language creates unique educational and employment opportunities for the country’s youth, creating greater employment potential and strengthening the ability to break away from generational poverty.
As part of his International Public Service Project, Christian Canizales is creating a monitoring and evaluation framework for HOOP’s Children’s English School, a program offering free after-school English classes to any student in the Flora Tristan community.
“I was drawn to work with HOOP because of their mission of empowering disadvantaged children and families through education,” Canizales said. “The classes allow for them to gain valuable skills, gain confidence, and guide their life according to how they want.”
Canizales became interested in working with Hispanic and Latino communities through experiences in his hometown of Jonesboro, Ark. Before enrolling at the Clinton School, he worked with Jonesboro’s Hispanic Center, a community-based nonprofit that serves the local Latino community by providing social, legal, and health services that improve the quality of life and support youth enrichment.
“That experience sparked my interest in working with Hispanic and Latino communities to develop their English language skills so they may seek a better life, whether that be via migration, university, or employment,” he explained.
Canizales’ work with Hispanic and Latino communities continued at Arkansas State University where he earned his degree in world languages and cultures. He served as President of the ASU Multicultural Center Ambassadors and was involved in the school’s Hispanic Outreach & Latino Appreciation Club.
“The skills that I learned from those opportunities have been monumental in my success here in Peru,” he said. “The intercultural communications that I had while volunteering with the Hispanic Center in Jonesboro prepared me to navigate varying cultural nuances. My work with the A-State Multicultural Center prepared me to adapt to a constantly changing environment, and to listen to the needs of the target community.”
After arriving in Arequipa in early May, Canizales realized the Children’s English School was lacking a true system for evaluation. He and members of the HOOP team have developed criteria by observing student capacity and aligning their new evaluation system with guidelines set by the Cambridge Young Learners Framework, a suite of English language examinations specially designed for children, and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, a guideline which describes achievements of learners of foreign languages.
Canizales, who is bilingual, is even teaching some of the Children’s English School classes himself.
“I teach English to teenagers in the program who have already had some level of English prior to their participation in HOOP,” Canizales said. “At times we converse in Spanish, but for the most part we try to speak in English.”
Canizales said his hope is that HOOP is able to use this new framework to collect data that will not only help improve the Children’s English School, but assist the full organization in grant attainment and fundraising, allowing it to continue to benefit underserved communities.
In his remaining weeks he is looking forward to continuing his work with HOOP while learning more about Peruvian culture, including the art, food, language, and societal values. His time in Peru has already taken him to the Cathedral of Arequipa, Santa Catalina Monastery, Alpaca World, and Machu Picchu.
Professionally, he wants to continue developing his skill for evaluation.
“I firmly believe that you do not truly know a concept until you can teach it to somebody else. Thus, I want to challenge my evaluation skill and be able to relay the reasoning and process to HOOP administrators.”
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