In 2010, Mario Garcia was awarded the prestigious Scholarship for Education and Economic Development and came to United States. A year later, after successfully completed his studies in Strengthening Rural Primary Education at Alamo Community College, he returned to his school in San Antonio, El Salvador to become his school’s language and literature teacher.
Since his return to his home country, Mario has made a dramatic impact on his school and his community. His school has become an example of success in the region. In the years since his return to El Salvador, Mario has:
- Trained 607 teachers from 273 rural schools to learn new methodologies and strategies on how to teach reading. This has directly improved reading for approximately 11,800 students.
- Become the Coordinator of the Integrated School System for his school district of Santa Clara. This impacts 10 schools with 88 teachers and 1,800 students.
- Created a school library and led a national campaign to teach fellow teachers how to create their own school libraries. Students take a major role in managing the library and parents have been trained both how to use the library and how to read with their children. His community now uses the library not only to check out books but it has become a meeting place to discuss and build community programs.
- Positioned his school as the magnet school for the Integrated School System.
Mario is a prime example of the impact that an investment in a single person can have on a community. Mario’s school is located in a low-income neighborhood of Sonsonate, the ninth largest city in El Salvador with some 60,000 inhabitants. Located on El Salvador’s Pacific coast, the province of Sonsonate is a strategic territory for drug traffickers. Its main port, Acajutla, is a major hub for drug shipments, and its proximity to Guatemala ensures quick ground transfer to and from Mexico.
However, Mario’s efforts are helping keep children and youth in school. Parents and community members are taking an active role in their children’s education. In turn, the student’s academic successes counteract the growing influence of youth delinquency and gang involvement.
The SEED Program is a USAID sponsored exchange initiative that provides U.S.-based technical training to youth and community leaders. The program creates productive and mutually beneficial academic, economic, and social relationships that benefit people of the United States and the Latin American/Caribbean region.