Saturday, June 11, 2011

I "Like" my project, you can too!

I can't believe that on Monday I will be starting my fourth week of work! Because you all have been asking me about it, I've taken this post to explain a little about my project and the organization I'm volunteering for.

It took me no time to get settled in the BA office of Cruzada Argentina because I work with wonderful girls - Daniela, the CEO, and Mariana and Rosario, the assistant staff members - in this fancy office building:

          The gigantic one in the center with modern, metallic-looking windows.

Our little office on the fourth floor..
Though Cruzada Argentina's field work takes place in the impoverished, scarcely populated northern provinces of the country, all the planning and organization goes on here.

Cruzada Argentina has an extensive list of ever-present and helpful board members and collaborators; however, those three ladies I mentioned above are the ones pushing the papers and making things happen day-to-day. And the other FCA workers, the ones that implement the projects, are the teachers and community leaders that live in those northern provinces, along with some outside consultants. Talk about involving your stakeholders and community experts! 

...with a balcony and a view.
The High School Support program is one of the two initiatives of the organization, and the one on which I'm doing my IPSP (International Public Service Project) for the Clinton School. Basically, it finances rural development projects in high schools that are designed to teach students a vocational skill alongside their regular studies. This enables the students to be productive citizens upon graduation without having to move to urban cities. Rural flight is a major problem in Argentina...about 90% of the whole population lives in urban areas, and that number is growing.

The HSS program carries out projects in carpentry, computer technology, sewing, farming, to name just a few. They take care to develop trades that are fruitful in rural zones and that the wider community can take part in by selling, marketing, and operating certain areas of production. Furthermore, the work that they do is sustainable - one of our favorite Clinton School words. Not only do they teach the students how to type on a computer, for example, but they involve the students in constructing the space and furniture necessary for a technology project, installing the computers, and then give lessons how to operate them.

**For some reason, I can't figure out how to imbed this video in the blog. It has something to do with the fact that it's unlisted. But anyway, you can watch it here if you'd like.

It's a 6-minute informational video about Cruzada Argentina's rural development efforts.

 My project, specifically, deals with the evaluation of the program. As Dr. Bavon taught us, data about project outcomes is very important for those who are funding the projects, and great for spreading the word to other potential donors and collaborators. Even though Cruzada Argentina already does a pretty good job at collecting and reporting data, I'm trying to set up a standardized method for them to do it. That way, anyone can take on the task of process and outcome evaluation on the various projects, and the results will come out in a more uniform and hopefully more effective manner.

I'm also doing some side projects like analyzing grant opportunities, looking for potential partner organizations to expand the rural development network internationally, and checking some of their English language documents for errors. If it sounds a little dry, you'd be surprised! It's actually very interesting and rewarding to be riding the ebb and flow of a very successful non-profit organization. I stumble over my Spanish sometimes, especially when it comes to the writing department, but I'm learning so much!  I LOVE it!

In tandem with my efforts to spread international love for Cruzada Argentina, I would be very honored and appreciative if you all "liked" our Facebook page:)

We are trying to make it to 200 "likes" and we have 199 so far! So, here's my proposal:

The 200th person to like FCA will get a present from me - something genuinely Argentine! And for the rest who "like" it after that...I'll whip up some homemade and truly Argentine empanadas and we can have a party once we're all back in Little Rock! Once you've liked it, let me know via facebook or email ( Thanks, everyone!


Ashley said...

I was #201! drats.

Jessi said...

I'll still make you some delicious humita empanadas! They are my favorite, and totally veg-friendly:)

Alana Gattis Bell said...

I am 205, but I claim some kind of special handling because of Kenyan internet service! Going to Barcelona June 26th.

Acadia said...

Yes! Prizes are awesome possum. Can I come to the empanada party, too??

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