CDC Update: Discovering Beauty in Community
This article is by Kristin Lietz, house mother, teacher and director at el Centro de Compartimiento.
We have noticed here that there is not a lot of career guidance in high school. Because high school used to be considered the highest level of education that many people could achieve, the students in middle and high school already have specialties and major study areas geared toward young people who do not plan to go on to college. The typical urban middle school has three or four specialties: secretarial training, accounting, information systems and sometimes auto repair or electrical systems. A typical rural school will have sewing and agricultural areas of study. In high school, the groups are even more separated, and you will not have class with anyone outside your specialty; public health, administration, computer systems and humanities are all typical high school specialties.
So young people, including the 11 students at CDC, are channeled at an early age—with little knowledge about the grand variety of careers available. We have no such thing as interest inventories and career counselors in our high schools. So when it is time to choose a college degree, students have often already been focused on one area. Add to that the limited access to universities in our area, and you have a lot of people going into a field, not because it is what they may be called to do, but because it is available. At CDC, we try to help the students in this area by exposing them to different areas of work though service projects for the community and through contact with different women in the community to help them widen their horizons.
Nereida is a first year university student, she has been at CDC for three years and has finished high school with us. She is currently studying business administration. Nereida is from a village relatively close to CDC, and the women in her village expressed an interest in having the personal development courses that we give our young women in our residential program. We’ve decided to give the courses monthly to 15-20 women of all ages.
As part of her community service, Nereida decided to go out to her village a day before each of the courses and remind the group members, as well as making sure we had a space for the group. Usually when she goes home, she stays with her family and visits a few friends; however, now with the outreach to the women in preparation for the group courses, she is getting to hear their stories, know them better, and understanding and empathize with their situations.
She revealed in a group discussion that we had with the students here at CDC that she is beginning to see a beauty in her community that she had never seen before—and she is starting to connect the ideas she is learning at CDC and school to her community and its needs. She had always thought that her community was some place to get out of, but now she sees its beauty and the possibilities in her community. She wants to find a way to link her degree in business administration to bringing more opportunities to her own community. We are thrilled to see this growth in Nere and are excited to see how it plays out in her life and her community.