For the past seven years, Ranch Ehrlo has been part of the International Volunteer Exchange Program, administered by the Mennonite Central Committee. They connect us with volunteers from around the world, who stay with host families and work at Ranch Ehrlo as educational assistants for a year. They receive all the same training as a regular employee of Ranch Ehrlo would receive. Our latest blog features one of those volunteers.
My name is Keren Sagastume, and I’m from La Ceiba, Honduras. I received the opportunity to apply at Ranch Ehrlo through a volunteer program ran by my local church. I arrived in September and will stay through the end of the year. My post-secondary background is educational psychology, so volunteering in a Ranch classroom seemed a natural fit.
In the time that I’ve been in Dallas and Randee’s classroom in Regina, plenty of unique learning opportunities have come up, for both the students and for me.
I help out in the classroom by offering one-on-one support to the youth, much the way an educational assistant would. Every Friday, I spend time teaching the students Spanish, an experience that has been both rewarding and challenging. For me, learning how to interact with and relate to the youth has allowed me to deepen my understanding of myself and others.
I am also able to bring a unique perspective to many of the themes that are already being presented throughout the student’s education. For example, when the students learned about war, I shared my experiences with civil wars that have occurred in Honduras. Real-life stories allow the students to engage in a different way and add a layer of emotion that might otherwise be missing from the lessons.
For the students, having me in the classroom has offered them an opportunity to become the teacher – they are eager to help when I forget an English word or am having trouble understanding due to the language barrier.
Randee and I are also collaborating with my church to facilitate a pen-pal exchange between the students in my classroom and those at home in Honduras.
When I return home, I plan to complete my continuing studies in psychology.
Overall, the experience of volunteering at Ranch Ehrlo has been a very good experience for me in both my personal and spiritual life. I look forward to spending the rest of the school year at Judge Bryant School!