Beth Johnson, an energetic thirty-something originally from Wisconsin, is a woman on a mission. Literally.
She will spend three weeks at a school in Cartagena, Colombia teaching English to local children at the Granitos de Paz School (which means, “Seeds of Peace”), assisting in other classrooms, helping with gym classes or in the cafeteria and in any other way I can.
She became interested in going there after going through the website of the “A Broader View Volunteers program (https://www.abroaderview.org/) which directed her to the Granitos de Paz Foundation.
“I really love working with children, and the school dedicates itself to reaching out to them at an earlier young age to encourage them to learn and grow in order to have a successful future and to improve their quality of life.
“My trip will be coordinated through a company called A Broader View which has been doing that over ten years now.”
And her family’s reaction?
“They’re excited that I have this opportunity, and my husband has been my biggest supporter.”
She credits her love for children, babysitting and working as a nanny for a number of years for her interest in doing something more with them.
She also gained experience that would help her with this mission.
“During a summer in college I worked as a camp counselor where I taught children Spanish. I also attended school in Mexico for a few months and gained an appreciation of the people and culture from that.
“For me, learning about a culture is just as important as learning the language. What I learned about the culture in Mexico helped me connect with people on a whole new level. I found the more interest I showed in learning the culture or about the country, the more people would open up and share their stories. I also succeeded in building a level of trust with them.”
Beth goes well-prepared for her work there. “I have a degree in Spanish and, of course, knowing the language will be a huge help. I have also been fortunate to learn how ESOL classes are taught by observing Maureen Howe work with her ESOL students from several countries in the Manassas Baptist Church program. I am gaining experience about how to teach these students. Maureen put me to work helping students right away! That was all right with me since I like to jump right into whatever I am doing, and I think that combined with my outgoing personality will allow me to help out in a number of ways once I am there.”
Beth doesn’t believe being in another country will pose a problem for her. “I love learning new things and about new cultures and being busy doing that will keep my mind off other things. My husband and I have now lived in three states, so we already rely on social media, email and calls to stay in touch with family and friends.”
And what does she hope to bring back from this experience?
“I hope to return with the satisfaction that I made a difference in the children’s lives and with the hopes that I was able to show these children that they can do anything they put their minds to.”
Beth smiled as she finished talking. “I am so excited to have the opportunity to participate in this program and know that it will be a humbling experience. I am blessed to be able to help out in this way.”
(For more information about the Granitos de Paz Foundation, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44ACWtK5zeQ for a video To donate to the school, visit https://www.abroaderview.org/fundraising/colombia/201-want-to-make-a-difference-in-a-child-s-life/details for one more week.)