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Puerto Rico se Anima
From a New Zealander’s Perspective
He aha te mea nui i tenei ao?
Maku e kii atu:
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!
(from a Maori proverb)
What is the most important thing in this world?
I will tell you:
It is people, it is people, it is people!
Que es la cosa mas importante en este mundo?
Yo te dire:
Eres persona, eres persona, eres persona!
Puerto Rico se Anima is the name of a digital animation project currently being facilitated within the renowned alternative school ‘Nuestra Escuela,’ in the education city of Caguas. The animation project concept, as developed by Jose Saavedra & Stefan Ivanovski, involves using the digital medium as a means for students to learn & develop a wide range of transferable skills whilst exploring social justice issues. Through the creation of digital animations to tell a story, it is hoped that students are not only motivated and engaged in learning, but also empowered to make positive choices in their lives.
As the tutors arrive, eager students greet them with applause. It is summer school and these students are here by choice. The current class of 8 students who are now in their fourth and final week of the programme range in age from 10 to 30 years. Learning is not age discriminate.
Each student settles quickly to work on the final details of their animations in preparation for the upcoming auspicious exhibition, when their work will be viewed by invited special guests, including family, the school’s director & the city mayor.
I cannot help but be impressed on several levels. Firstly, with the enterprising skills of the tutors, two Bucknell University recent graduates, both in their early twenties, who have not only conceived the concept of Puerto Rico se Anima, but who would have done a huge amount of work prior to get the project designed, supported, funded, coordinated, resourced and initiated. Secondly, with the students. The class I sat in with were engaged, focused, & appreciative, as well as accommodating of me as a curious observer. The attitudes the students exhibited were certainly positive. And as an example of the skills, I have to say, I am humbled by what one 10 year old student had so easily & competently achieved with his digital creation. Last but not least, mention must be made of the school Nuestra Escuela itself, which has earned such a high reputation nationally that it has become a beacon internationally for people passionate about exploring innovative educational experiences and meaningful teaching opportunities.
In terms of evaluating its effectiveness, it’s hard for me to be impartial about the project by this stage. I see it as such a foresightful tool to up-skill & empower youth of all backgrounds & ethnicities. So much so, that I am already scheming as to how I can lure its creators/facilitators to bring the programme to Aotearoa, New Zealand!
Educator & Holistic Learning Advocate
2 August 2012