A School on Wheels in Cali

I’m staying at a friendly hostel in Cali called Cafe Tostaky, where many of the guests are focused on taking dance classes (mostly fast-paced Caleno-style salsa, and also tango).

One of my fellow hostel dwellers is here to volunteer with a small religious organization led by nuns. The project is a Mobile School, a box on wheels that the nuns and volunteers pull into neighborhoods to teach street children and adults alike.

I went last Saturday morning with Wooter, my Belgian friend, to volunteer and learn about their work. The mobile school is a concept that originated as a master’s project in Belgium in 1996. Now mobileschool.org has more than 25 partner organizations worldwide, in Bolivia, Guatemala, Poland, Kenya, and the Philippines. The concept could work anywhere–you could bring this brightly colored, fun, attention-grabbing box on wheels to any neighborhood. Who wouldn’t be curious, and who wouldn’t want to play? It makes learning fun. Anyone can come, children or adults.

The box features a number of games that can be rotated. Last Saturday morning, mostly children came. I spent time with two clever thirteen-year-old boys, practicing math, motor coordination games, and finally, teaching them a bit of English. I figured that’s where I could provide the most unique contribution. Kids in Cali often start learning English at age 8, and they have such passion for ingles!

We spent about two hours in the street and then came back to the nuns’ home to debrief over lulo juice (lulo is a great Colombia fruit).

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