Dallas City of Learning

Del Barrio al Liderazgo Comunitario

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Más de un billón de niños viven en pobreza en todo el mundo, yo era uno de esos niños. Hija de una madre adolescente y producto de la educación pública en América Central, hoy tengo mi propio negocio y soy considerada una líder en América.

Mi nombre es Betzy Arosemena y nací en Panamá, uno de los países más bonitos y corruptos del mundo. Mi bisabuela no fue a la escuela, no sabía escribir ni leer. Tuvo 7 hijos, el primero lo tuvo a los 15 años. Mi abuela solo terminó 6to grado pues tuvo que trabajar desde los 12 años para ayudar en casa. Mi mamá logró terminar la secundaria pero no hubo celebración, en su último año descubrió que estaba embarazada de mí.

Esto significa que antes de nacer yo formaba parte de estadísticas que decían que mi destino era repetir el mismo patrón de embarazos y pobreza, pero no fue así. Esto se lo debo completamente al apoyo familiar que recibí por parte de mis abuelas, mamá, abuelo, tíos y tías. Todos hicieron lo que pudieron y me repetían casi a diario que si alguien iba a salir del barrio, sería yo.

Hace unos días llegué por primera vez a Dallas y tuve la oportunidad de iniciar una relación profesional con Big Thought, específicamente con Dallas City of Learning. Esta conexión se dio a través del programa de intercambio empresarial Young Leaders of America Initiative, mejor conocido por sus siglas como YLAI.

Este programa busca brindar oportunidades de entrenamiento, recursos y networking a empresarios de toda América Latina, especialmente mujeres. Su objetivo es reducir la división social y económica con prosperidad y crecimiento en el mundo del emprendimiento. Enfocados sobretodo en ideas de negocios que tengan causas sociales, ambientales o relacionadas a derechos humanos.

YLAI Professional Fellows Program es la razón por la que estaré de visita en Dallas. El programa tiene una duración de 5 semanas en donde los 250 participantes visitaremos 3 ciudades de Estados Unidos, en mi caso: Detroit, Dallas y Washington DC. En la primera ciudad, Detroit, conocimos acerca del programa, las expectativas y acerca de los emprendimientos de los otros participantes.

En Dallas es donde estaré la mayor parte del tiempo, compartiendo con Big Thought y con otros 9 maravillosos emprendedores de América Latina: Alberto de México, Alejandra de Honduras, Mark de Aruba, Hugo de El Salvador, Mariana de Uruguay, Fabio y Gabriel de Brasil, Eloisa de Chile y Darwin de Perú.

Todos vienen de industrias muy variadas que incluyen diseño de modas, gastronomía, desarrollo web, mercadeo digital, medios de comunicación, sostenibilidad ambiental, educación, transporte y asesoría legal.

Mi emprendimiento entra en el área de medios digitales, soy la co-fundadora de Dandelion Media una agencia de mercadeo digital en Panamá, pero estoy aquí en partnership con Arckalab, una empresa social dedicada al desarrollo de ciudadanos globales a través de cursos y talleres para niños y adolescentes.

Ahí es donde cobra sentido mi relación con Big Thought. En Arckalab buscamos brindar actividades extracurriculares variadas para que los niños adquieran una nueva forma de pensar, de comportamiento y habilidades que les ayuden a tener su propia empresa cuando sean grandes o simplemente a tener las herramientas necesarias para tener un mejor futuro y poder enfrentarse a una economía global con cualidades resilientes.

Actualmente trabajamos con niños y jóvenes de 8 a 17 años, así que nuestros programas comparten el mismo target que los programas de Big Thought y Dallas City of Learning. También tenemos 3 tipos de programas after school, summer y dentro del horario escolar.

Nuestros talleres atrapan su imaginación e interés con temas muy variados para que los chicos aprendan de todo un poco mientras les enseñamos acerca de cosas que muchas veces no aprenden ni en casa ni en la escuela, como respeto propio y a otros, honestidad, puntualidad, trabajo en equipo, colaboración, ciudadanía global, etc.

A pesar de que vendemos nuestros cursos y talleres a precios accesibles, siempre buscamos la forma de integrar organizaciones con niños que podrían verse beneficiados con este tipo de iniciativas sin costo para la organización. En el 2018 hemos tenido el placer de trabajar con el Hogar de la Medalla Milagrosa y el Club Atlético Independiente, cambiando así la vida de más de 50 niños.

Esto es empoderamiento que está impactando a familias y comunidades enterasen Panamá, así se cambia el mundo empezando por uno mismo. Por eso me involucré tan de cerca con la visión de Abdiel Barranco, Fundador de Arckalab, porque todos merecemos la oportunidad de tener un mejor futuro y dejar a un lado cualquier etiqueta que nos imponga la sociedad. Así que estar aquí representando a Dandelion Media y Arckalab es un honor.

El cierre del programa será en Washington DC, donde volveremos a encontrarnos los 250 participantes y hablaremos de todo lo aprendido y de la experiencia de pasar 5 semanas en Estados Unidos. También habrá una competencia en donde los participantes podrían conseguir algo de dinero para impulsar sus negocios.

En Big Thought he aprendido mucho, y sé que faltan muchas cosas por aprender. Faltan menos de 20 días para que yo termine mi intercambio, hasta ahora todo ha sido genial. He tenido la oportunidad de convivir con personas maravillosas que buscan cambiar el mundo a través de su trabajo y no hay nada más respetable que eso.

Big ThoughtDel Barrio al Liderazgo Comunitario
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Summer of Discovery at Trinity River Audubon Center

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By, Elysse Alvarado

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Dallas, the Trinity River Audubon Center is the perfect place to take a pause and enjoy a walk in nature. This summer, Pleasant Grove SOARS and Dallas City of Learning flew into session and sparked students’ imaginations through discovery, play, and creativity all while exploring their own backyard.

Students on a trail at Trinity River Audubon Center.The Trinity River Audubon Center is the gateway to the largest urban forest in the U.S. and sits on a former illegal dump site which has been reclaimed as a nature sanctuary with five miles of walking trails, a butterfly garden, and conservation center. While the center has been open since 2008, many Dallasites don’t know this urban oasis exists.Peek at the home of Pleasant Grove SOARS at Trinity River Audubon Center.

Pleasant Grove SOARS wanted to bring awareness to this amazing facility. Summer learner, Valerie, is eleven years old and loved attending camp at the Trinity River Audubon Center. “I didn’t know this was here. I love nature and every day we take walks and learn about it.” This kind of interactive learning is what Big Thought is all about. Program Manager, Sergio García points out that the goal is not only to “engage the whole child but to engage the whole family by sharing new opportunities and new experiences.” A student’s parent explains that her family has never had the chance to explore this area until SOARS. “The kids love being outside and taking walks. We want to come back as a family now.”

Students took advantage of their time at the center by learning about nature through classes on art, science, and tech. From every corner of the Trinity River Audubon Center, views of the surrounding Texas plains can be seen and as a result, inspired many of the projects students created. From painting butterfly murals to dissecting frogs, learners were able to discover more about their environment through hands-on learning.

Big ThoughtSummer of Discovery at Trinity River Audubon Center
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Through the Lens: Community Building at Red Bird

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By, Elysse Alvarado

Walk into Southwest Center Mall (or Red Bird Mall as it’s commonly known) on any given day and it is clear to see that this once burgeoning shopping center has lost its spark. With shuttered storefronts and phantom parking lots, it may seem at first glance that there is not much left for visitors to enjoy. But in fact, this mall has flourished into a unique community of its own.

SOARS REDBIRD

Apart from the few anchor department stores, local businesses are the pulse of what’s left at the mall and what makes it special. Morning walkers make their rounds through the long shopping halls, while store owners set up for the day ahead. And this summer, Red Bird SOARS has returned to provide engaging, summer programming for students. Summer learners are greeted by shop owners as they walk in for camp and the mall itself serves as the backdrop for activities such as photo walks and dance practice. This shopping mall has become more than just a mall, it has evolved into a close-knit community of its own.

Big ThoughtThrough the Lens: Community Building at Red Bird
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Poetry in Motion: Rail Writers Connects Students to the City through Literacy

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By, Carson Bolding

Dallas City of Learning, a city-wide initiative to promote experiential summer learning, is made possible through a network of partnerships with public and private organizations. Each of these organizations brings new perspectives, ideas, and activities to students all over the city. Throughout the summer, The Writer’s Garret has been an invaluable partner, leading students in a number of activities to put their thoughts and experiences into words.

Aaron Glover, Co-Executive Director, explains that The Writer’s Garret aims to “connect readers and writers through the power of language.” One of their programs, Rail Writers, takes this connection a step further, adding a third group to the mix: riders! Rail Writers began in spring of 2016 with the goal of helping “urban youth find themselves through reading, writing, and exploring communities while riding the rails to notable landmarks in Dallas” (Rail Writers).

SOARS campers from West Dallas and Red Bird had the opportunity to participate in this exciting program. On these day-long field trips, staff from the Writer’s Garret led the kids in writing workshops, drawing from their experiences at various stops in Dallas, such as the Dallas Museum of Art and Klyde Warren Park. After writing poems and stories, they shared them with DART riders at “flash mob readings” at various light rail stops.

Some students teamed up for group performances, including one entitled “If I Was the President…,” where five young poets shared their dreams for the future and invited the audience to reflect on their own dreams. Others brought their own creative flair, incorporating song and dance routines. One student shared his experience on DART, explaining that a mural he had seen while riding the train opened his eyes to a different perspective of Dallas, one outside of his neighborhood of Oak Cliff.

“Our brains are active 365 days a year,” Glover reminds us, emphasizing the importance of summer learning. Programs like Rail Writers teach us that learning doesn’t just happen inside the classroom, and embracing that mindset allows us to be “open, curious, and thoughtful” when approaching the world.

Big ThoughtPoetry in Motion: Rail Writers Connects Students to the City through Literacy
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Redbird SOARS Back for Summer Learning!

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By, Elysse Alvarado

In partnership with the Dallas Mayor’s Office, Dallas City of Learning is an initiative that brings together hundreds of organizations to connect innovative out-of-school learning experiences that tap into new interests, develop new skills and encourage informal learning wherever it happens. This summer, SOARS is returning to Southwest Center Mall (or as locals call it Redbird) for a second year and seeks to engage students right in their own neighborhoods.  Located in Southern Dallas, Redbird mall is easily accessible for many families and the perfect place to connect the community to fun summer learning programming.

Designing and painting at Redbird SOARS!

Redbird SOARS brings together community artists and organizations to deliver exciting summer programming Kristina Dove, Director of Systems at Big Thought, emphasizes that “there are so many talented kids in these communities that rarely get an opportunity to explore such pathways as STEM, dance, creative writing and production.”  At Redbird SOARS, our partners are key to giving students a chance to explore all these new ideas. Here is an inside look on what learners are discovering this summer.

Students launching their slingshots!STEM

HAK Electronics is committed to inspiring the next generation of engineers by breaking down complex concepts through interactive projects. Students are learning how to connect LED lights and even build their own slingshot! Elijah, who is seven years old loves science and is excited to go to HAK every morning. “I get to play with all these cool things, and like launching our sling shots!” This kind of excitement isn’t something that can be gained in a traditional learning environment, and gets students excited to learn.

Young photographer exploring Redbird.Photography 

While many summer learners might have a smartphone, many have never learned about photography as an art form. Sir 3, a local artist, partnered with Big Thought to show students what it means to be a photographer. Redbird is the backdrop for their projects and the young photographers love taking walks to explore the mall and create their very own images.

Ms. Jones (Jones 2000) teaching students how to tie their shoes.

Art 

Summer is a great time to flex creative muscles. This is exactly what SOARS campers are doing with Jones 2000. From constructing wearable art like bracelets to designing their own t-shirts, students are free to create.

Summer at Redbird SOARS is sure to be full of exciting learning experiences. Want to see what fun educational opportunities are happening in your area? Head to Dallas City of Learning to check out the latest summer programming.

 

 

Big ThoughtRedbird SOARS Back for Summer Learning!
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Dive into Summer Learning: Time to go to the Perot!

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By, Elysse Alvarado

Dallas City of Learning believes that summer learning shouldn’t be confined to a classroom. Instead, students should be encouraged to learn by getting their hands dirty and interacting with the world around them.

Through DCOL’s partnership with KERA Learn, students focus on STEM learning through projects such as planting herb gardens, creating art projects using recycled items and even designing their own airplanes! Students at West Dallas SOARS dived into summer science learning by visiting the Perot Natural History and Science Museum.

Discovering new things at the Perot Museum!Dallas City of Learning helps close the opportunity gap by providing high quality education programming. DCOL also aims to connect children to their community in unique and fun ways. Visiting local institutions gives students the chance to further connect with their home city and shows them that learning can be fun. The day began with an IMAX movie about the famed Galapagos Islands. They learned how the islands were created and about the diverse animals that inhabit the islands. Then it was time to explore the Perot!

Students diving into summer learning at Perot.

From learning about native Texas critters to marveling over dinosaur fossils, the day was filled with plenty of wonder and lots of giggles. But, who better to ask about their day then students themselves? Here is what students at Dallas City of Learning had to say about their day.

What was your favorite part of the day?

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Summer is a great time to jump into learning! Fight the “summer slide” by sending your child to a great summer learning program or exploring Dallas through exciting, educational opportunities

Big ThoughtDive into Summer Learning: Time to go to the Perot!
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