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Learning Through Life Histories
Posted 05/04/2016 11:36AM

This summer, four Spanish students joined the Cloudforest Classroom at Siempre Verde. While the Science and Art classes hiked and painted, the Spanish students immersed themselves in the community. They took language classes at the lodge, spent three nights in homestays, and completed a service project at the local elementary school. The children in Santa Rosa will enjoy their new swings and merry-go-round for years to come!

While getting to know the community in general, students also had the chance to learn the story of local author and farmer César Pavón. Despite a life of great privation and many obstacles, don César has made himself known as a poet and musician. His life and work were recently honored in the first volume of Íntag’s new Life Histories project, sponsored by local NGO Casa Palabra y Pueblo.

Students read selected chapters and poems from don César’s life history during their first week of classes at the lodge. They learned about his lifelong love of literature, despite the fact that he had to leave school after the sixth grade. Through don César’s eloquent voice, they experienced both the difficulties of living with epilepsy in a rural area and the challenges of making a living through agriculture.

At the end of our stay, students traveled to Apuela to meet don César in person. They participated in the question and answer session and asked don César to sign their books. Finally, don César recited one of his own poems from memory. The interview was recorded and later played on the local radio station.

The Cloudforest Classroom is not just a visit to Ecuador—it is an experience of a special culture, way of life, and environment from the inside. Spanish students this summer immersed themselves in the language while learning to see the world through don César Pavón’s eyes. Thank you to the wonderful Spanish students and to don César for his generosity!

Diane Staats

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