World Language Teacher Alison Welch heads to Nicaragua this summer on a humanitarian trip.

World Language Teacher Alison Welch heads to Nicaragua this summer on a humanitarian trip.

by Rowan Carroll-Christopher

Two years ago, LA French teacher Alison Welch introduced an amazing new project to the student body to teach them about global citizenship and giving back to the global community. The Pulsera Project is a non profit, humanitarian organization whose goal is to enrich the lives of both Guatemalan and Nicaraguan artisans through the making and selling of “pulseras” (Spanish for bracelet). Since 2009, the organization has partnered with over 900 schools and sold over 300,000 pulseras, tremendously improving the lives of about 100 families. With one hundred percent of the profits going to the artisans, the Pulsera Project has raised enough money to send some families’ children to college, among many other things. Thanks to Ms. Welch’s enthusiasm and dedication, Lincoln Academy successfully raised more money than any other high school partner with The Pulsera Project during the two sales in the fall of 2012 and 2014.

“I believe that the success at Lincoln Academy can be attributed to the video that I showed each year at an all-school assembly, that depicts the incredibly poor working conditions that the Nicaraguans endured prior to becoming involved with the Pulsera Project,” says Welch of the students’ efforts during the sales. “This sort of project sparks student interest in other cultures and languages. I truly believe that this project speaks to students, and supports our jobs as educators to develop a sense of global stewardship within our students.”

Pulseras being sold this past October by Lincoln Academy students.

Pulseras being sold this past October by Lincoln Academy students.

Welch has been selected by the Pulsera Project to be one of eight teachers to participate in the first Pulsera Project Teacher Trip. She will be leaving June 24th and returning July 1st, and the goal of the trip is to meet with the artisans in the Nicaraguan villages, spend time with them and their families each day, and in the evenings work on improving the Pulsera Project’s curriculum. Additionally, the group of 8 teachers will be looking for other humanitarian ways the project can contribute to the quality of life of these families. The group will be traveling to many locations in Nicaragua including Granada, where the organization is based, Leon, El Chile, and a coffee plantation in the northern mountains of the country called La Hermandad. Throughout the trip, they will live as citizens of Nicaragua: sleeping in cabins and “eco lodges” with no electricity, treating their own water for drinking, and buying their food from local markets.
“We will not be contributing to the tourist industry in Nicaragua but rather to the livelihood and quality of life of local Nicaraguan people,” explains Welch. When she returns to Lincoln in the fall, Welch hopes to share her experiences not just with LA but with the greater community here in Maine. “My goal is to create a presentation that will highlight the lives of the Nicaraguan artisans that I meet, and how their lives have improved since the inception of the Pulsera Project and visit AOS 93 elementary schools with the goal of bringing the idea of global stewardship to students  and communities at large. My goal is to open young minds to different cultures, to bring interest and enthusiasm to study world languages, and to support and instill the goal of Global Stewardship throughout the community.”