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Students in Mark Connolly’s Spanish 4 class are finishing the academic year working with Project Olas, an organization co-founded by a group at Georgetown University that includes alumna Chloe Morris ‘19. Project Olas works to provide relationship-centered language education by connecting students with Guatemalan mothers known as “Olas moms” to practice their Spanish. The Olas moms live in the community surrounding the Guatemala City Garbage Dump in Zone 3 of Guatemala City. 

Connolly said his students were “super excited” to do this work together over the last few weeks of school. Their first Zoom session with their Olas mom, Leslie Hernández, “started slow but ended up with a ping-ponging conversation about everything from pets to travel plans to the cultural calendars and practices. Leslie reminded us that ‘cada cabeza es un mundo’ (every head/mind is a world).”

 Grace Albright ’21 worked with Project Olas last fall and wrote about her experience connecting with her Olas mom, Sindy. Albright wrote, “Project Olas was a transformative experience for me. This organization has emphasized the importance of interpersonal commitment during confinement. Not only did I improve my Spanish, but I also expanded my cultural horizons. I would like to thank Sindy for introducing me to the splendor of Guatemala. I am in awe of her resilience and intelligence—she taught me that I can overcome any circumstance, and that human connection can transcend all limits.”

Connolly said his students are meeting with Leslie for their final session this week. Students also had one-on-one sessions with another Olas mom. “Olas moms do this work to support their families and spread understanding of their communities through their language,” said Connolly. “This is a unique opportunity to connect our work in the classroom to real world communities.”