Studying at PRECE

Studying at PRECE
Students from PRECE study together under the juazeiro tree in small groups using cooperative learning

Friday, December 20, 2013

Como o Pentecoste me faz bem...

As pessoas sempre me perguntam, “Kacy, o que você mais sentiu falta daqui?”.

 E eu sempre respondo o seguinte:

Bom, eu sinto falta das praias e do sol, claro.
Eu sinto falta da minha rotina daqui, como estava mais tranquila do que minha rotina nos EUA.
Eu sinto falta das frutas a os sucos naturais- maracujá, acerola, mamão, manga, goiaba, e açaí. 
Mas, profundamente, o que eu mais sinto falta é das pessoas- os relacionamentos, meus alunos, meus amigos, os colegas de casa, os professores, os PRECISTAS, minhas famílias Brasileiras, e as pessoas das comunidades na Zona Rural. Eu não volto para cá por causa das praias, nem frutas. Eu volto pra cá por causa das pessoas quem eu amo.

Por quê?

Não sei exatamente como explicar como o clima da EEEP Pentecoste e PRECE me fazem tão bem, mas deixe-me tentar explicar:

Nos Estados Unidos a cultura é muito competitiva e todos são tão individualistas. Pensamos mais em nós mesmo e não cuidamos bem das outras pessoas. Aqui minha experiência é sempre o contrário. Às vezes, as pessoas cuidam melhor de mim do que delas mesmo. Hoje mesmo eu ganhei uma tapioca com queijo porque as pessoas sabem que eu amo! Eu ganhei uma carona de carro porque eu não quis caminhar na chuva. Eu ganhei um chocolate e um pedaço de bolo porque pessoas sabem bem como compartilhar e dividir. Eu ganhei muitos beijos e abraços porque o povo é tão carinhoso. Todas essas coisas me fizeram muito bem. Para mim, essa atitude de ajudar aos outros e cuidar bem não somente da própria família e amigos mas também do estrangeiro é uma coisa incrível e muito linda.

Por isso, Pentecoste sempre me faz muito bem e por isso eu vou sempre voltar para cá. Por que daqui o mundo pode aprender muitas lições de amor, carinho e hospedagem. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Atmosphere of Celebration and Solidarity

As soon as I arrived at EEEP Pentecoste (the Professional High School) I could sense an atmosphere of celebration and collaboration. Naturally, this is the end of the school year and Christmas is just a few days away, so there is much to celebrate.

However, it is also the beginning exam week so celebration isn't typically what students and professors experience at this time. There is usually a great deal of stress and anxiety around this time of year. In fact, my facebook page is filled with comments such a "only one more paper!", "why did I decide to come back to school?", "almost done!" These aren't the comments I have heard here at EEEP Pentecoste. Instead I see students studying together, encouraging one another and celebrating their successes together.

A perfect example of this solidarity is the "re-enforcement project" that is happening right now during exam week. Students who are struggling in certain academic areas have been paired with other student facilitators. Together they are participating in activities to enhance their understanding as well as encourage one another. The whole idea of the cooperative learning movement is for everyone to collectively arrive at their goals rather than competing against one another.

The philosophy is well expressed in this famous Ute proverb: "Don't walk behind me because maybe I don't know how to lead. Don't walk in front of me because maybe I don't want to follow. Walk beside me so that we can travel together." The students and teachers here understand the profound impact of this proverb and they practice it daily.

Cooperation and solidarity extend outside of the typical high school setting and into the additional projects the school has developed for the community. Sports such as capoeira are available for children and adults alike. EJA (similar to GED preparation) is offered for youth and adults. Projects such as SuperAção ENEM and Rumo Universidade are offered to encourage high school students and young adults to go to the university. And, Ruma Ensino Medio works to prepare students for the rigorous high school course load. 

Yesterday registration opened for next school year and the number of people who have already signed up is a testimony to the work EEEP Pentecoste to doing. The atmosphere of solidarity is permeable and for that there is good reason to celebrate!


For those who visited the original PRECE location in Cipo many years ago they were not so much impressed with the structure as they were the people and the spirit of the PRECE movement. Their hearts were immediately warmed by the youth who dedicated their free time to studying and helping others to pass the university entrance exam. Visitors were fascinated by how much developed from what seemed like so little. They knew at first glance that PRECE was a place built on faith and gratitude rather than tangible resources.

The same was true when PRECE leaders first began working at the Institute in Fortaleza. It was an older building that needed some serious reformation. But, just like the old abandoned flour mill in Cipo the structure didn´t make as much of a different as the spirit of the people. For years the Institute has served as a gathering place for PRECE leaders and university students. Meetings are held there. Study groups for those hoping to enter the university take place there. Departures for the rural areas leave from there. It is truly a hub of activity and creativity.

Over time both the old flour mill and the Institute have undergone tranformations. A pavilian was built in Cipo, a computer lab was established, the kitchen and bathrooms were upgraded and the bedrooms were improved. The Institute has also received small improvements over the years.

But, I was truly blown away by what a saw when I visited the Institute on Friday morning. Everything has been completely transformed. One side of the building is a full auditorium. On the other there are offices for many people and collective work areas for groups. A special area has been set aside for communications/marketing and another for those who work with cooperative learning throughout the state of Ceara. And to top it all off, a beautiful garden has been planted, tables decorated and a creative atmosphere has arisen. Much of this tranformation has been made possible because of the strong partnership with SEDUC (Secretary of Education) but an even greater part is because of PRECE's foundation in faith and gratitude. None of this growth would have been possible if the PRECE participants did not walk by faith and live through gratitude. No matter how much PRECE develops, the founding principles are still present in everything that happens.

Around and about Brasil

Before I arrived in Fortaleza I had the opportunity to visit a few places I had wanted to travel:

Brasilia, the capital of Brasil:


The Argentinian side of Foz de Iguaçu



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Accepting the Challenge

The students at EEEP Pentecoste have now being studying with the Cooperative Learning methodology for a year and a half.  They have encountered and overcome many challenges.  But, as happens anytime we work in groups and depend upon one another conflicts have arisen and continue to arise.  This is natural and even healthy.  By learning to work through these conflicts the students are developing skills they will need to succeed in the working world, as leaders of communities and within their own families.

For most Brasilian students classes ended last week and they are now enjoying their mid-year vacations.  There are 60 students (15 from each discipline in the 2nd year) who have yet to begin their breaks and are still brianstorming ideas to improve their school, the interactions between students and the cooperative learning methodology.  For the next three days the students will reflect on their experiences thus far and strategize ways to improve the next semester.  These 60 students were selected to be student coordinators in their classes and are accepting this responsibility and challenge.

I have found most impressive the way the students have been able to reflect upon their own stumbling blocks, accept their responsibility and accept feedback that will help to strengthen their role as leaders.  This is not an easy skill for any of us to do, let alone a teenager.  These students are accepting a big challenge with open arms and an open mind.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

An Oasis

Educandus at Boa Vista

There is a place that I have come to think of as an oasis.  120 kilometers from Fortaleza and 36 kilometers from the nearest town, Pentecoste, and in the middle of the hot barren land of northeastern Brasil one can find a fount of knowledge, determination, love and community.  This place is called Boa Vista, and the PRECE group there captures my heart every time I visit!

The amazing thing about the people of Boa Vista is that they will take a small idea or vision and let it grow to fruition.  They will then develop something larger than anyone had ever imagined.  This happens time and time again and the fount grows to reach more and more people! This past weekend I visited the community of Boa Vista to observe exactly how one of these ideas has taken shape.

When a group from First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta visited Boa Vista in the summer of 2012 the two groups committed to a partnership of developing an educational project which uses both computer technology and the cooperative learning methodology.  The educational CDs developed by Educandus, computers, new building, chairs and tables were all funded by an individual donor from First Presbyterian Church.  A group of PRECE university students from Boa Vista were trained in the Educandus program and dedicated their weekends to facilitating courses using both the technology and the cooperative learning methodology.  A key group of leaders also oversaw the building project, managed monthly attendance for students and teachers and provided light snacks for the children.

Though the project started slowly everyone is on board and enjoying the fruits of their hard work! The PRECE university leaders are dedicated to developing lessons that use both the computer program and the cooperative learning methodology.  The students have better attendance than in years past.  And, everyone is working together to build another amazing part of tapestry that makes Boa Vista such an oasis for all around! Congratulations to all involved!!!


Friday, June 28, 2013

Congratulations!!! Celebrations throughout the last week of the semester...

Congratulations!!!  Celebrations throughout the last week of the semester...

During the last week of classes the students at EEEP Pentecoste had many things to accomplish but they also had a lot of fun!  Students were sy with English classes, completing exams, doing make-up work, submitting semester-end evaluations of the cooperative learning methodology, and practicing for the ENEM University entrance exam.  At the same time, they enjoyed academic and team building games, sports such as soccer, handball and basketball, and the São João cultural festival.  The week was truly a great way to end the semester!