Stephanie Scott Teaches Literature in Rural Amazonía
When Stephanie Scott (TMR: Summer 2016) was published in our first publication, she was working with Chicha Radical, coordinating and delivering aid to families affected by the 7.8 earthquake that hit Ecuador in April of this year. Lately, the “On Shelter, Home and Beauty” writer has been spending her time working as an elementary and middle school teacher in the rural Amazonía of Ecuador. Her work is possible through the Arajuno Road Project, an organization devoted to supporting “healthy communities and a healthy natural environment in the Ecuadorian Amazon.”
Scott: “My students and I read and write stories with a focus on identity and culture -- with a particular interest in integrating native languages like Kichwa and Shuar into a school whose language of instruction is Spanish, although it serves a large number of indigenous children. Our first unit this school year was about local folklore having to do with monsters and other jungle creatures. We are in the middle of a unit on indigenous identity in the global context, for which students are illustrating their original stories in the style of Mexican illustrator Mauricio Gómez Morín's work for the Zapotec story "La Pequeña Niña que Siempre Tenía Hambre." Our next unit will be local again -- on Shuar mythology.
Perhaps it is unnecessary to tell literary folk about the transformative power of literature, but I will share an anecdote: A twelve year-old who recently mastered sounding-out words and doesn't speak Spanish in full sentences but has vehemently denied being indigenous or speaking any other language at home, broke-down in tears and told the class he speaks Kichwa after we published our first class book in the Kichwa language. He then proceeded to read a page of the story aloud to his classmates.”
Scott describes the challenges that her school and her children face: they have difficulty “finding high quality, beautifully illustrated children's books featuring brown-skinned children and/or featuring indigenous stories; many children are food insecure and/or living in very vulnerable conditions; many children miss school due to lack of affordable/reliable transportation in rural areas.”
| Scott invites anyone who wants to get involved to contact her at her Facebook page.
| You can visit the Arajuno Road Project website to learn more about the organization as well as ways that you can help, including donating and volunteering.
| Read Stephanie Scott’s Best of the Net-nominated non-fiction piece “On Shelter, Home and Beauty,” in our Summer 2016 publication.