Camp GLOW 2016: What Girls Taught Me About Empowering Them

When I think of girls’ empowerment, these images come to mind:

  • Girls’ hands flying in the air during class to ask questions

  • Girls learning that if they were boys, they wouldn’t be called “bossy”

As an English teacher and member of the Peace Corps Nicaragua Gender and Development Committee, I love educating others about gender. I’ve led LGBT safe zone training for Peace Corps staff and host families, and I’ve trained my colleagues about gender-equitable teaching practices.

I also teach English in Nicaraguan public high schools. According to the Ministry of Education’s English Curriculum, teachers are supposed to cover topics like gender equality, LGBT identities, and discrimination. How deeply they cover those topics is up to the teachers and the students’ parents. Teachers can lose their jobs if parents complain that their children are learning what they see as
“inappropriate material.”

In addition to those limitations, teachers aren’t trained on how to teach these sensitive topics, leading to a lack of awareness about them.

The barriers to learning don’t stop there. When public school classes are cancelled because of rain, or when 1 teacher is expected to teach a roomful of 60 students who don’t have enough dilapidated desks to write on, it’s less likely for students to learn.

Learning is possible, despite the challenges. Read my Wanderful post to find out the three lessons I learned from girls at Camp GLOW!

Written by Char Stoever, TEFL 64.

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