My name is Berta Cecilia Rivera, I am from the community of Caimito. I was introduced to Forum Foundation through Professor Elvia Martinez. In 2013 I first received support through a program that provided students with uniforms and boots.
I graduated with a diploma in Agriculture and Livestock High School at the José de Los Reyes Vásquez School. After graduating, I was selected to participate in an English course offered by Forum Foundation at the Technological University of Panama in Penonome. I was then awarded a full scholarship to attend a year abroad at The Hun School of Princeton, NJ.
I am currently finishing my graduation requirements for a degree in Logistics and Multimodal Transportation at the Technological University of Panama. I plan on continuing to learn in order to prepare myself to achieve my career goals.
Some of the educational issues that I could see in my community during the pandemic are; the lack of network coverage, low use of technology, and lack of internet access. These deficiencies have made many children unable to receive their classes, either because they do not know how to complete their assignments because they lack clarifying information on the topics. On the other hand, most students live with their parents or grandparents, who can not always explain what to do to complete the assignments. Finally, most families have limited resources, and don’t have the money to buy cell phone cards, without them, students are forced to miss out on their studies.
There are many challenges that the communities face, but I consider that the biggest challenge is to maintain and improve the level of education. Today students have been challenged to be their own teachers. Those who do not have the tools to advance are forced to abandon education. For all these reasons and more I thank Forum Foundation, especially its founders Mr. Keffer and Mrs. Robinson because they have always opened the doors to many students who have the desire to continue studying.
I feel very happy to be able to offer my knowledge to children who need it during the pandemic. I thank Forum Foundation for this beautiful initiative in which I was able to participate as a volunteer tutor.
My experience as a tutor has been incredible because I have been able to meet many children and young people who come voluntarily to solve their doubts to be able to complete their assignments. Seeing the interest that each one of them has, makes me want to continue contributing a grain of sand to improve education. What has made these visits fun was working as a team and sharing the experience with former classmates and volunteers.
Returning to in-person learning for the 2022 school year will be a challenge for the whole country, but it can be achieved by doing things right.
To the students who are finishing their 2021 school year, I say the path of education is not easy, there will always be obstacles. That does not mean we should give up, the best thing we can do is to get up and keep moving forward. In the end, you will feel greatly rewarded and satisfied.
And to the students who have left their studies, I want to say that it is never too late to keep learning.
Forum Foundation is grateful for beneficiaries like Berta who return as volunteers to help us contribute to sustainable change in their communities.