Emily Sendin: Tengo un Sueño

Eight years passed by in the blink of an eye. Three to five year old kindergartners dancing and singing around me are still freshly tucked away in my chest of treasured memories. As their curious and rambunctious little minds opened to a world of new words and numbers and shapes and images, they were becoming a community of learners and dreamers. While I still feel a pang of sadness because of the childhood innocence long lost, I embrace with awe the transformation of the children into young adults. The children I have come to love and protect as my own are now teenagers. The dreamers are thriving, growing, and developing into amazing human beings that often disarm me with their insights. Their minds are expanding as they are exposed to new cultures, concepts, and worlds. They are engineers, writers, teachers, doctors, and thinkers in the making.

In addition to English classes, lunch, uniform and school supplies, and tutoring, the Tengo un Sueño program offers a learning community where every child is supported and encouraged to dream and live up to her/his full potential. Community is at its core. Just like the human body, the Tengo un Sueño program could not be sustainable without its heart, the community that Rita and Leyla have forged between dreamers, parents, teachers, collaborators in Nicaragua, and USA partners. As program coordinators, Rita and Leyla, each with a unique set of skills, provide leadership and guidance for the children and their parents. Their presence since the program’s inception is a reminder to the dreamers and their families of the 17-year commitment we made when the program started in 2009 – a promise that will be fulfilled when every child in the program graduates from college. The English teacher, Marcela, is committed to student learning and innovative teaching; her enthusiasm is contagious. Huguette, the school counselor, offers wise advice, a helping hand, and a beaming smile.

Program Offerings:

English Classes

Math Tutoring

School supplies

School uniforms

Extracurricular activities

Excursions and field trips

Program Coordinators

School Counselor

New Initiatives:

Penpal Project

Community Service

Intern Workshop Series

Dreamer book of stories

Spanish Book Reading program

Library Outings

English Book Reading program

While numbers and productivity are important, Tengo un Sueño was founded on the principle that a loving community can make a positive and lasting impact on a child’s life. Tengo un Sueño is concerned with building community, instilling and modeling values and ethics, nurturing children throughout their academic journeys, listening to community needs, shaping engaged and informed citizens, and working together for the greater cause of education rights for all. We believe that every child has the ability to learn, and we strive to create a safe and welcoming environment that makes it possible for our dreamers to learn and dream and become engaged, empathetic members of their society. Tengo un Sueño is all about heart and its community has a beating pulse that keeps many dreams alive.

This summer I returned to Chacraseca with three amazing young college students and FNEI interns. Together we planned workshops and English lessons that captivated and inspired our dreamers. I am blessed to have such a dedicated group of interns to call my partners in service. We worked together, and we played together.

It was a summer of firsts. Our dreamers read I Am Malala and learned about the plight of education for girls under the Taliban regime. They learned about Muslim culture and religion. They learned about perseverance, hope, and forgiveness. They practiced yoga and interpretive dance with Laurel and Alex Salinas-Nakanishi’s group of volunteers. Glendy saw the ocean for the first time. Leonela learned to float at Laguna de Apoyo, and a group of dreamers saw lava in Masaya Volcano. Bryan, Marcela, and Lupita went volcano surfing in Cerro Negro. Three of our dreamers, Yaosca Arauz, Leonela Chavez, and Hazel Bravo, were named the top three students in their eighth grade class. I learned that as much as I think I know the dreamers, there is always a new layer to peel off: a new dream to uncover, a new goal to reveal, a new burden to share, a new secret to whisper. It was a summer of many firsts, of much sharing, and of many blessings.

The beat goes on and so does the dreaming.

Emily A. Sendin
Tengo un Sueño Co-founder
FNE International Board of Directors