We hope you are staying safe and sound with your families. It's hard to believe it's been more than a year since we returned from our service trip to Puerto Rico. A year later, the world is a starkly different place. YASC, like other organizations, has adapted to the pandemic by shifting to online programming as a way to stay connected with our community. We have stayed in touch with our ground partners as well as our dedicated group of volunteers to organize a series of interactive virtual events ranging from cooking and cocktail get-togethers to informative Zoom meetings and webinars to remote service opportunities.
We know that you are all looking forward to resuming travel and furthering the YASC mission as soon as conditions permit, and we are planning for trips to Puerto Rico and Peru in 2022.
This newsletter includes important information about planned future trips, updates about communities we have recently visited, and information about upcoming events and other programming. Stay tuned for further updates and events in coming weeks and months!
2022 Trip Updates: Peru and Puerto Rico
This is a reminder that registration is open for our YASC in Peru trip, scheduled for July 9-17, 2022! For this exciting program, we will be working closely with Minga Peru, the local schools, community leaders and community members. Click here to register!
Update from Minga Peru
Loreto continues to be one of the regions of Peru most affected by the COVID pandemic due to its lack of access to basic health services which quickly collapsed during the initial wave of COVID in the summer of 2020. During this initial wave, the indigenous population suffered extensively with over 12,000 cases in 700 different communities and the second wave is currently seeing tens of thousands of new cases each month throughout the entire region. Minga continues to assist local communities by utilizing its extensive network of health promoters and radio program to provide awareness and resources to Loreto's most vulnerable populations while working hard to combat misinformation related to home treatments for the virus and the new vaccine.
"The people of Nauta, Loredo don't want their native language, Kukama-Kukamiria, to disappear. So to that end the NGO, Create Your Voice, teamed up with a local radio station, Ucamara, to record a song with hip hop and traditional rhythms sung by children to save the language from the brink of extinction, El Comercio reported."
Read this piece in El Comercio by clicking here! Check out the longer video about Nauta and the making of the video here!
YASC Puerto Rico 2022
Plans are underway for a return trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico in March 2022. As with the 2020 trip, we expect the group size to be 50 volunteers, with similar projects including athletics, construction, education, and public health. Stay tuned for details.
Update from Instituto Nueva Escuela (INE)
As we acclimate to another year in a pandemic, one of our biggest concerns was staying connected with the students. While before the pandemic the parents were very engaged and you could evaluate the child’s process in person, this has been a time to get more hands-on even at a distance.
The first step was making sure all our students had Internet and computers. We created a Microsoft TEAMS page for the parents to share and feel a sense of community with their schoolmates and teachers. Although virtual learning has affected the number of children who log on to class, teachers try to follow up with messages via TEAMS, emails, and text. Recently a questionnaire was sent out asking parents if they wanted their children to go back to in-person school; 58-65% said yes. They were ready. Following guidelines and incorporating a hybrid model for some students of shared virtual and in-person school time, not to have all the children in at once.
The month of May is our tentative back-to-school date. May is the target date to have the students go back to school and have their final exams and school evaluations done. All the challenges the pandemic has brought have not deterred our staff from giving the best education. We are excited to have in-person classes on the horizon.
Batey Libertad, Dominican Republic - Yspaniola
In the DR, public schools are currently closed, but Yspaniola’s dedicated local team has adapted their programs to provide daily, small-group, COVID safe literacy classes.Yspaniola's five university scholars have continued their studies virtually, and helped Yspaniola to research how the pandemic is affecting younger students. A survey of the community by the scholars found that 70% of parents felt unable to help their children with their school work, and only 18% of households had wifi so that students can take the online classes provided by the Ministry of Education and stay in touch with their school teachers. As many parents did not finish high school themselves, and speak Haitian Creole rather than Spanish as their first language, there are overwhelming barriers to students accessing education during the pandemic.
Cape Town, South Africa - Amandla Development
2020 was a challenging year for us all. During the lockdown in South Africa, gender-based violence increased and schools were closed while virtual learning was impossible given the prohibitive cost of internet access in South Africa. Despite these difficulties, our community showed resilience and our team adapted quickly to ensure girls and young women in unsafe situations were supported, and that teachers, parents and students could remain in contact. Coming out of 2020, Amandla Development has grown. We've been able to increase the educational, arts and healthcare services we provide to Philippi learners and their communities. Despite the setbacks of COVID-19, 2020 showed us what we're capable of and we plan to build on this to expand the support and services we offer to our community.
Serra Grande, Brazil - Instituto Floresta Viva
Serra Grande, district of the municipality of Uruçuca in Southern Bahia, Brazil, has been hit with a steep increase in the number of COVID cases since the end of 2020, as a result of scarce restrictions to all summer events and venues. The need to make money over summer trumped our need for safety and health. From the almost 200 cases with which we finish October 2020, we are currently at more than 1,300 cases confirmed. Given the lack of space in regional hospitals, anyone who is confirmed to have COVID goes back home to be quarantined. The local health post maintains contact with the person and could visit if needed. All social and health workers are doing an amazing job to maintain people informed and provide care as quickly as possible.
Sitka, Alaska (2023 summer trip) - Sitka Fine Arts Camp
Sitka has been relatively fortunate during the pandemic. We have had low case numbers (currently four active cases and 322 cumulatively over the course of the last year for our population of 8,500). We have also benefited from Alaska's excellent access to covid-19 vaccination due in part to Alaska's large Alaska Native and military populations and nimble networks of rural medicine. On the other hand, the town has suffered economically in the loss of most tourism and the entire 2020 cruise ship season with limited prospects for improvement in 2021. At Sitka Fine Arts Camp we cancelled our summer 2020 programs and are currently planning to resume in person programming for summer 2021 with covid-19 precautions and reduced enrollment.
More from YASC
YASC Creatnet India Leadership Training Program: We are excited to announce a new virtual service and learning opportunity with Creatnet.org, an organization in India that has developed a program to facilitate discussions on leadership, learning and self-realization with interested volunteers, educators and students in India. The organization works extensively with principals in the public schools in Delhi, and they are now creating a similar program working with young people of college age. Five YASC volunteers will join Indian volunteers (virtually, over Zoom) in a group of ten to learn facilitation skills and then facilitate discussions (virtually) with a group of young people in India.
Yale Jefferson Award for Public Service: Deadline for Nominations: April 15, 2021! This is a great opportunity to nominate a fellow Yalie (or self-nominate) for this prestigious individual service award. Yale-Jefferson Awards annually honor a Yale College student, a graduate or professional school student, and an alum. These awards recognize individuals whose innovative, outstanding, and sustained contributions in service to the greater good exemplify the leadership Yale strives to cultivate.
For more on the Yale Alumni Service Corps, visit us at yalealumniservicecorps.org.