Submitted by Douglas Morales Busiquia,
President of AIChE Student Chapter, State University of Maring?, Brazil
In collaboration with Junior Achievement, the Maring? AIChE Student Chapter has recently started a volunteer program designed to encourage Brazilian high school students to stay in school and complete their studies. The "Benefits of Staying in School" program is for 12-14 year-olds in public schools with a high dropout rate.
Before going to a school, the volunteers completed a two-hour training session, where they reviewed topics to be presented, and developed activities to support the core message of the benefits of staying in school.
Illustrating the advantages of staying in school
After receiving their training, several members of the Maring? Student Chapter visited a local school on May 24 and June 5, spending a total of about three hours interacting with the students. While there, the volunteers talked about their personal life experiences, stressing how the decision to complete their studies and enter college has positively impacted them. They then played a Junior Achievement board game with the students called "Game of Big Decisions," in which the students face situations where they have to choose to either continue school or abandon school for a job. Usually, in the game, the student that "finishes high school, goes to college, and then enters the job market" is the winner. Through the game, the students can visualize that studying will make them successful.
In another exercise, the volunteers worked with the students to simulate a monthly budget for someone who chooses to drop out before finishing high school. Many of the students appeared genuinely surprised when they realized how difficult it is to survive with the limited amount of money a person in this situation can earn.
Next, the volunteers assisted the students in developing plans for the future, including choosing the type of career they would like to have and where they would like to live. Once the student made these choices, he/she was then asked to develop a strategy for achieving their goals, including educational requirements and other needed life skills (e.g., foreign language proficiency, public speaking skills, etc).
In closing, each student was asked to write a letter about the activities, including what they liked and what they learned. One of the letters stated: "Hello friend, a nice thing happened at school today. A guy called Douglas was there and he showed us "The Benefits of Staying in School." It is a very cool project in which he taught us many things, like graphics about salary, employability... we've even played a very nice game!"