An eighth grade advisory team from East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School sold about $200 worth of bracelets in less than two weeks to raise money for underprivileged communities in Nicaragua and Guatemala.
All the proceeds that they raised will go toward the Pulsera Project — a nonprofit organization that connects Central American artists with students in more than 3,000 U.S. schools — through the sale of colorful hand-woven bracelets, or “pulseras,” in Spanish.
“This project has given my students a tangible experience of working with someone from another country, and it helps them to work together and make a difference in the lives of others,” said Tiffany DiNome, an eighth grade Spanish teacher at East Rockaway High, and advisor of the service project. “The hope that we have is that through this project, students on my advisory team will see how they can make a positive change in communities locally and globally.”
At ERHS, all students in seventh and eighth grade spend the second half of their lunch periods every other day meeting with an advisor. These advisory teams are a group of about 15 students who work closely with a teacher on social, emotional and character building skills to help them navigate adolescence. Additionally, all of the teams will engage in various service learning projects to help the students understand how they can have a positive impact on the world through their actions.
As a fourth period advisor, DiNome has been working closely with her seventh and eighth grade group to guide them in selling the bracelets made by people in Nicaragua and Guatemala. The bracelets are sold for $5 each, by the students, who informed the school community about the sale through word of mouth, announcements on the school loudspeaker and by placing flyers throughout the school building. They started working on this service-learning project on Feb. 25 and they will complete it on March 10.
“Selling these bracelets allows the students to work with people who are in less advantageous economical situations,” DiNome said. “This shows the workers in Nicaragua and Guatemala that their time and skill is worth more.”
As the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, workers in Nicaragua, who make the bracelets, struggle to find people in their country to buy them because many natives don’t have the money to afford them. The situation in Guatemala is very similar. The Pulsera Project allows for the bracelets to be shipped to schools in America. After American students sell the bracelets, the proceeds made will provide shelter, food, healthcare, education and scholarships for the people in Central America who made them.
Although DiNome’s advisory students never engaged in any direct contact or correspondence with the people that they helped in Central America, each bracelet that they received has a tag on it with a picture of the artisan from Nicaragua or Guatemala. This enables the students to see who they are helping and who made each bracelet.
Many of the students said they found that they have been learning a lot from the service-learning project and they have been enjoying many parts of working on it.
“It’s nice that we get to see who we are helping and to know that this can help so many people for many generations,” said Everett Gamache, an eighth-grader on the advisory team. “My favorite part of this project is seeing all the beautifully crafted bracelets from Nicaragua and Guatemala because none of them are made exactly the same.”
“My favorite part of this project is knowing that doing something so small can help so many people,” added Julia Agro, a seventh grade member of the advisory team. “This project helped me to understand the struggles of others and how we can help other people.”
When seventh-grader Avery Whitehouse first discovered that the advisory team would be participating in the project, she said she was very excited, and she purchased two bracelets of her own.
“I have enjoyed helping others, learning about a new culture and new ways that I can impact people,” she said. “I think my favorite part is knowing that I’m helping other people for a good cause and I’m impacting my own town by informing them about the project and a new culture.”