Marina & Evane (M&E): Hi Silvia, how did you start the English institute?
Silvia: The place where we teach is located in Pablo Nogues, in the province of Buenos Aires. it works as an after-school club. The land where is built belongs to my parents, so I decided to start a project, the idea was to teach in a place I already have, so the kids could learn English easily after their classes.
M&E: Who is involved in this project?
Silvia: I started fifteen years ago, I was first on my own and then two of my students got involved: they were trying to be teachers, and when the 2001 crises arrived I couldn’t afford to pay them any more. At that moment, I started to work with Voluntario Global. Having volunteers was perfect because they helped me with conversation lessons, also to get organized. Today, they are 7 teachers with me —which are former students— and we are doing good things together.
M&E: What are the organization's objectives and actions?
Silvia: Giving the kids a tool as it is the English language so they can have a better future. Some international companies in Argentine ask for English Skills when you apply for a job, and the opportunity to have a place where children can study during the week is an alternative that not all parents have for their kids. It is a good benefit to have this for your children's education. I don’t ask them to become a teacher but to be able to communicate in English so they have better chances.
M&E: How has the coronavirus affected your NGO?
Silvia: All the curses are now being dictated online, even younger children know how to use tools like Skype, Google Classroom, Zoom or Hangout. And it’s a challenge for the students as much as for teachers to be updated and active in these platforms. It is working perfectly, they are doing 15 hours weekly. I can say I’m quite happy with the results.
M&E: When do you think, your activities will restart?
Silvia: We don’t know yet. We think activities will continue online for now until June at least. Although, in Argentina, wifi connection is not always good and it causes some problems during the classes.
M&E: Who are the most affected by the situation created by the corona virus?
Silvia: Well, working classes, people who don’t have bank accounts or who have informal jobs, for them it’s very complicated because they can’t work at the moment and that means they have no incomes: the poor are always the most affected by the different crises. They cannot work from home like the employees who work in big companies. That’s the kind of people I work with, so we are all together, united, trying to survive. I think this will change the way we think in the future: like the Pacheco Community in Voluntario Global, they have their own garden. I think it makes us see the need to produce our own things, Probably it will be a good change of philosophy, appreciate what we have, simply things, we should rethink the way that we see our own products, we should appreciate what we have.
M&E: How do you think this situation will affect the country's economy?
Silvia: It will affect the Argentinian economy but we must think first of our health, we need to be alive, it’s the most important thing, so the medical needs are crucial before thinking about the economy.
M&E: How do you see the future of society after the coronavirus? Do you believe that society will be more united?
Silvia: I’m looking forward to see what happens and how we change our thinking. We should worry more about our neighbors, have more empathy for the people that live and we can help. I see with the virus, people go shopping for their neighbors to help them, I haven’t seen this in my life! It’s a great thing, I see that’s is changing, and that’s fantastic, that the only way we will survive is if we help each other. If we don’t change our minds, this crisis will be completely useless.