Touching Lives Around the World–Literacy Outreach Belize–A Program by Professional Storyteller, Kristin Pedemonti

Teaching Reading (in Spanish!) at Library San Miguel Duenas Guatemala, 2007

This weekend I had the great blessing of attending Story Fusion, a wonderful storytelling festival in the Lehigh Valley.  It was organized by the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild.  The weekend was truly life changing for me and I will be posting about my experiences, and the fruits of those experiences, over the next couple of weeks.  The best thing about the weekend was meeting and connecting with this whole culture of people–storytellers.  The people I met were generous in spirit, kind, open, wise, playful, and out there trying to make the world a better place.  One such person is Kristin Pedemonti, a professional storyteller who founded an amazing literacy outreach program in Belize.  She is helping teach teachers and students creative wrting, the value of stories and literacy, and so on.  It is a truly beautiful endeavor.  Today I am reprinting, with her permission, an entry from her website that tells about her project.  Included here are three training videos that she made showing some of the work she is doing.  Please watch them now or over the next few days.  She is wise and playful and we can all learn from her generous spirit.  Please visit her website and follow this link to the original article because in it there is a Paypal Donation button to help support her project that I was unable to put in this reprint.  

So here’s the article about her work in Belize.

Kristin sold her home and most of her possessions in 2005 to create Literacy Outreach Belize. She used a substantial portion of the proceeds from the sale to kickstart this volunteer project. Since 2006, Kristin has donated literacy programs for over 33,000 children in Belize and trained over 600 teachers!

Carla, teacher at St. Joseph Primary in Belize City has this to say:

I am a teacher at St. Joseph Primary School in Belize City and I have known Ms. Kristin ever since she came to Belize. She is a storytelling expert and she has really influenced me as a teacher. She is vibrant, motivated and has a very pleasant personality when dealing with children… I was lucky to have been chosen by her to tell stories to my class and the children and I have always enjoyed it. I am a very motivated teacher myself and just listening to her made me even more enthusiastic about teaching especially telling stories to my children. ~Carla Graniel

Great things are happening with Literacy Outreach Belize! Good News, Kristin is the 2011 Recipient of the National Storytelling Network International StoryBridge Oracle Award in part due to her work in Belize!

Every year Kristin returns to Belize for approximately one month to continue the project through teacher training workshops and school visits. Every year since 2007 she depends on her own fundraising and securing sponsorship to sustain the project. Through the years the following groups and individuals have helped sponsor Literacy Outreach Belize: In 2012, the trip was sponsored through a fundraising campaign on 53 people raised $3K+ to sponsor the creation of Teacher Training Videos. In the past, Michael Thomas, Belize City Rotary, Rosendo Urbino, The Kilroy Family, Allison Rotteveel, Marlborough Elementary School, Northern Elementary School and August Brinker. Read on to learn what was accomplished with each sponsor’s donations.

Thanks to all the supporters via Kristin was able to do the following in January 2012:

  • 340 students participated in Preserve Culture Story-writing programs at Bishop Martin and Immaculate Conception Schools.
  • 168 teachers attended Teacher Training Sessions on Creative Writing Using Indigenous Stories and Storytelling in the Classroom.
  • TWO Teacher Training Videos were filmed and edited thanks to the help of Matthiew Klinck, Eva Behrens and Robin Reichert. The videos are already being distributed in Belize through the Literacy Unit, National Library Service, Sacred Heart College and Ecumenical Junior College and are on youtube on my channel: storytellerkp
  • Here’s a preview of the Training Videos:

    August Brinker sponsored the 2011 volunteer trip to Belize. Because of Mr. Brinker’s donation Kristin was able to do the following:

    January 15, 2011 to February 10 2011

    • Preserve Culture Story-writing Programs presented at Bishop Martin RC School for over 500 students
    • Book Drive for Bishop Martin, 100+ books donated
    • Staff Development Teacher Training Workshop at Sacred Heart Junior College, 47 teachers learned how to preserve Belizean cultural stories and use storytelling and story-writing to enrich their classrooms
    • School visit to Immaculate Conception School in Bullet Tree Falls, story-writing workshops with STD 5 and 6 students
    • Nearly 200 Sacred Heart High School students participated in Story-writing workshops
    • Story-writing workshop and storytelling presentations at St. Joseph School Belize City, over 300 students participated
    • Staff Development Workshop at St. Joseph’s School
    • Teacher Training in Dangriga

    Thanks to Allison Rooteveel for the book drive and Marlborough Elementary School and their Penny War in PA for sponsorship. The following was accomplished in 2010:
    January 12 to January 29, 2010
    Over 2000 students at 4 schools received FREE storytelling and Story writing programs to help them prepare for the National Exam. Nearly 500 books distributed to 3 schools benefitting over 2000 students!

    The 2009 trip was sponsored through the sale of Kristin’s Storytelling CD’s and the sale of hand carved Thai instruments donated by Micheal Thomas.
    February 24 to March 25, 2009
    2156 students at 6 schools received FREE storytelling and story-writing programs. Expansion to Immaculate Conception Primary School in Bullet Tree Falls village.
    Collection of 200+ stories written by Belizean students.
    Positive meeting with President of National Institute of Culture and History.

    The 2008 trip was sponsored in part through the sale of Kristin’s Storytelling CD’s and the sale of hand carved Thai instruments donated by Micheal Thomas.January-March 2008
    Belize Story Writing Project: Kristin provided storytelling and story-writing workshops for nearly 8,000 students and 200 teachers January – March 2008.

    The 2006-2007 trip was sponsored by the sale of Kristin’s home, Belize City Rotary, Rosendo Urbina, and Michael Thomas.
    2006-2007 Literacy Outreach: Kristin provided programs for over 20,000 children at 120 schools, daycares and preschools throughout Belize.

    March 2006 National Library Service Staff Training. Kristin presented workshops on Dynamic Children’s Programming and Storytelling Techniques. (32 libraries in all)

    May 2006 National Library Service Library Tour: presented programs for 14 Village libraries From Gales Point down to Barranco. Books 4 Belize: collected and distributed books to libraries and schools throughout Belize.

    December 2005 Kiwanis Club of Emmaus, PA donated $100 worth of books. Neff’s UCC Church in Neff’s PA donated $500 of new books to the cause July 2006. Friends and family have donated over 2000 books thus far.

    November-December 2005 Where I am From Poetry Project with Muffles College, Belmopan Comprehensive School and Upper Perk Middle School in East Greenville, PA. Over 200 students wrote poems based on George Ella Lyons “Where I am From” poem. The poems were exchanged between the Belizean and American students.

    Collaboration with the University of Belize and presentation of Teacher Training for several at-risk schools.

    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

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