Volunteer Profile: Linda
Name: Linda Billotti
Program: Reforzamiento, 1st and 3rd grade teacher
Favorite place traveled: Belize for the relaxing time and beautiful scenery
Favorite place in UPAVIM: the library, getting to hang out with Vivi
Favorite food in Guate: Gringas, the cheesy, flour tortilla goodness! Or Pupusas!
Least favorite meal: Tripe….
Tortillas or bread: bread
Linda Billotti came to UPAVIM as a 20-year old recent graduate in the summer of 2014. She graduated a year early from college and always wanted to go abroad and volunteer in a Central American educational program. She stumbled across UPAVIM on the Idealist posting and felt drawn to the mission of the nonprofit and the work.
Linda just wrapped up her last month in May working in Reforzamiento, the tutoring program. She enjoyed that Reforz provides a more relaxed environment– working in Spanish, not having to give grades, and most of all, focusing on working directly with the children of the community and building relationships.
For Linda, it was really important to get involved and make connections with the community. Not only did she spend time and share with all of her Reforz kids, she also got to spend time with the UPAVIMAs. Viviana, UPAVIM’s librarian, is the women with whom Linda really bonded and connected. Linda admires the way Viviana is the heart and soul of her family. Linda says she is one of the most hard-working, dedicated people she knows. Vivi has worked for everything she has and she does it all for her family. She works not only as the librarian, but also makes hand-made products for the UPAVIM artisan program during her off hours. Linda describes how selfless Viviana is and enjoys her unexpected silly and funny side. Linda loved hanging out in the library during her free moments.
Going to the library was also a fun adventure with her 1st and 3rd grade students in Reforz. They would often pop next door, exploring the different titles and learning to love books. For Linda, getting to expose her students to this public community space that is available to everyone was a rewarding experience.
Her proudest teaching moment came at the end of the school year last October when one of the 5th grade boys she had been working with came into Reforz one afternoon after taking an exam. He excitedly proclaimed that he knew all of the perimeter problems on his exam because of their work together in Reforz. That was the moment when Linda saw how relevant her work, time, and energy as a teacher and tutor really was.
Linda headed back to the States in mid-May and will be attending graduate school in the fall. She hopes to return back to La Esperanza and visit whenever she gets the opportunity. Linda has also agreed to join the board of directors of UPAVIM Community Development Foundation (UCDF) in the US. UCDF is the US-based fundraising arm of UPAVIM. As a member of UCDF Linda will be able to continue her connection with UPAVIM and work to raise money that supports the Reforz and scholarship programs.