Expanding our Education Impact to Rancho Nuevo

Ariel Arguedas Fernandez is Playa Viva’s Education Coordinator. He grew up in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. He is an educator, dreamer, and avid nature lover. He has been volunteering with Playa Viva since October 2018.

As we open a new season at Playa Viva, it’s also the season for local students to head back to school.

Playa Viva is celebrating the start of the new school year by bringing a full year of English classes to Rancho Nuevo, a small agricultural town of about 200 people located about a 30 minute drive from Playa Viva. It is home to a local church, a few small shops, and many mango plantations, and it is one of Playa Viva’s four impact communities.

Playa Viva is celebrating the start of the new school year by bringing a full year of English classes to Rancho Nuevo

The community is also home to one school – la primaria, or the local elementary school. The primaria’s only teacher, Maestra Norma, lives in the community and teaches the 17 students aged 6 to 13. 

At the end of Season 10, Playa Viva’s Education Coordinator, Ariel Arguedas, began traveling to Rancho Nuevo to teach English once a week. Parents from the community had heard that he was teaching in Juluchuca and asked if he could visit their local school as well. Despite living right in front of the school in Rancho Nuevo, Maestra Norma offered to make the trip to Juluchuca to pick up Ariel every Thursday. 

At school Ariel divides the students into two groups, first working with the 1st-3rd graders and afterwards working with the 4th-6th graders. “They are learning basic vocabulary and phrases in English”, Ariel explains, “but together, we are also learning more than just English. We often talk about what it means to be a good person and how to be respectful of the environment.” 

Ariel’s work in Rancho Nuevo has had a ripple effect in the community. In addition to his Thursday teaching routine, he also visits Rancho Nuevo every Wednesday evening to play sports with the kids and pick up trash around town. “People really pay attention when they see small children pick up their trash. It makes them think twice before throwing it on the ground again.” 

We are learning more than just English. We often talk about what it means to be a good person and how to be respectful of the environment.

Perhaps the highlight of last season was Rancho Nuevo’s school field trip to Playa Viva, where they released baby turtles, took a tour of the Permaculture farm, and got to explore the hotel. 

Thanks to Ariel’s involvement with the school in Rancho Nuevo, we have learned about the needs and aspirations of the community. Last season we were able to construct a well at one student’s home who lived without water; this season we have started a new school scholarship program and hope to expand our trash and recycling program. If you would like to learn more about how to support these programs, please email Colleen Fugate at colleen@playaviva.com.

Ariel Arguedas Fernandez is Playa Viva’s Education Coordinator. He grew up in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. He is an educator, dreamer, and avid nature lover. He has been volunteering with Playa Viva since October 2018.
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