Exciting progress for students at La Maya Community Programs

Finca La Maya is bursting with activity as free programs continue to draw students to classes every Saturday. The popular English language courses are packed every morning and the afternoon classes have numerous activities including Art for Kids and a Computer course. University students are learning to perfect their English conversational skills and employees from local businesses have obtained letters granting them permission to miss work so that they can attend classes at La Maya.

The newest success is that since 2012, with the help of donated laptops, FLM has been able to offer a computer lab. For many students, this course has been their first-ever introduction to laptops. Classes started with basic computer functions and skills, then moved on to the use of text and other basic applications. As classes progress, students are learning more advance skills such as Excel and graphics software. Alex Martinez, a former Finca La Maya student, now teaches the technology course. The students are currently using a variety of computer programs to create their own posters that include photographs, text, and special effects.

Finca La Maya continues to offer the ever-growing English language courses. From beginners, to advanced and conversational English, teachers cover it all. Students range in age from 5 to 45, and the four separate classes each have anywhere from 6 to 25 students a week. Classes are not broken up by age, but by skill level, which is very important for both quality instruction and continued advancement in the English Language. English courses are taught by a variety of volunteers as well as paid Panamanian teachers. The success stories: previous students of La Maya’s free programs have been awarded well-paid local jobs that require bi-lingual abilities.

Art for Kids is still a big hit on Saturday afternoons. Under the instruction of volunteers Jamie Yau and Lloel Muñoz, students are encouraged to let their creative side flow through a variety of art projects. The class hosts an average of a dozen children each week. Crafts such as collage, mosaic, and sculpture, which the children paint, decorate, and assemble themselves, are sold in the library space at Finca La Maya as well as the occasional local art fairs and markets. Profits are shared with the artist and FLM, ensuring supplies for the children’s next masterpiece. Students’ creations can be purchased at Picasso’s Restaurant on Saturdays.

Last week La Maya was blessed with a surprise visit from young people who wanted to show their support for FLM’s free community programs. An enthusiastic and dedicated group of engineering students chose La Maya as their community service project. So stay tuned for a fundraising event to be held in early November!

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Finca La Maya is a non-profit activity in Panama. Its goal is to enhance educational and vocational opportunities for local Panamanians by providing free enrichment programs in language, culture, and the arts. La Maya’s programs include English Language courses, “Art for Kids”, a computer lab, and a community library offering bi-lingual books and DVDs. Up to one hundred participants have attended the weekly free community programs at the facility in San Carlos, coming from Panama’s Pacific coast interior communities as far away as Chorrera and Rio Hato. La Maya depends on the support and generosity of donations and volunteers from our community. Make a difference: give!