Sunday, November 15, 2009
These beautiful vases made of bamboo are the work of a group of students from the Insitituto Nacional de Palacaguina. They have worked so incredible hard on forming their own small business and actually making it profitable. They won both the local and regional competitions and this past Thursday I had the honor of taking them to Managua to compete in the national competition.
The first hour of the day was a product fair and each of the 11 groups that were competing (all regional champions) had a table to display and sell their product. The girl in the front is Mary and then in the back, from left to right, is Carlos, Junieth, me, Wendy, Helen, and Nidia Karolina. We had a lot of fun driving through Managua on the way to the competition, especially since two of the kids had never been to the city before.
Here they are showing their vases to Robert Callahan, US Ambasador to Nicaragua. It was adorable seeing how nervous and excited they were to talk to him and I was very impressed with how professional they remained.
After selling several vases, we moved in to the auditorium and the presentations began. Each group had 7 minutes to present their business plan using a power point presentation and then the judges could ask them questions for 3 more minutes. My girls did an excellent job and I was too nervous to take pictures of anything until after we ate and they gave out the prizes.
We sat together, nervously hoping for the best but prepared to take away only the amazing experience, when they announced third place...
And they won! Here they are on stage accepting the plaque and prize money for finishing in third place. That is third place out of all 600 plus small businesses created among students throughout the country through the class La Empresa Creativa.
Francis Evelia, the teacher I co-teach the class with, and I were just as excited as the students. Francis has worked with this class for four years now and this was her first time taking a team to the national competition and I was so excited for her. In addition to being my counterpart, she is also my closest friend in town and I was proud to be sharing this honor with her.
We took many more pictures on the long bus ride home and the kids laughed and pretended to interview themselves and it was just a good time all around.
The next night we met at Karolina's house to take more pictures with the plaque. This is such an amazing group of students and I feel like I have learned just as much from them as they may have learned from me.