Learners Without Borders


Our LWB 2016 Trip to El Salvador was a huge success!


Thank you!

In the summer of 2016, we partnered with Voices on the Border to send a delegation of High School Learners Leaders to teach chess in El Salvador! Thanks to the generous support of our community and donors all over the country, we raised $11,194.18. That along with the initial $1,200 we had from extra funds raised for Learners’ past chess service trip, helped us fully fund this journey with enough left to get a future Learners Without Borders trip started! Click here to see the detailed breakdown of income and expenses from our Learners Without Borders 2016 trip.

Click here to read our mission overview.

Help us continue to make this incredible opportunity available for years to come, please do make a donation today!

IMG_1919

IMG_1923

2016-07-22 10.37.24

IMG_1992

IMG_2131

IMG_2216

IMG_3147

IMG_2161

IMG_1977

IMG_2705IMG_3021IMG_3071

IMG_3074

IMG_3588

El Salvador 2016 Timeline

  • August 30th, 2016: Voices on the Border staff report that kids have been gathering together to play chess on a regular basis. Plans are already being conceived to bring this program to more under-resourced rural communities in El Salvador next summer!
  • August 1st: After waking up at 3am, we returned from El Salvador safe, healthy, and fulfilled after having the wonderful opportunity to share the game of chess with a group of 35 kids in a an under-resourced community in rural El Salvador.
  • July 31st: We said good bye to our host families and headed back to San Salvador to debrief with Voices on the Border staff and prepare for the following day’s journey home. After some time debriefing and sharing our experience with the Voices field staff, we said our goodbyes and headed to bed early.
  • July 30th: Saturday was definitely the most rewarding day as we got to teach a fun variant of chess, pass out prizes, run a tournament, say our goodbyes to the kids, and we got to meet with the leaders and educators in the community to advise them on how to keep a chess club going after we left. In the morning we taught our students how to play the fun tandem variant of chess called Bughouse, which we all played together for about an hour and our students really loved it! We passed out prizes for stamps the kids had earned from the puzzles they solved throughout the week. We took a group picture and then had a group lunch together. In the afternoon, we selected a group of the top 20 selected students to play in a four round chess tournament. Watching the kids play in the tournament was a real treat for us, as we saw some really strong chess playing with very few mistakes on the rules or chess movements. That evening, at a gathering of the entire community. All of us and the community had a chance to say our thank you’s and goodbyes. The community’s local kids band played some songs for us, we were presented with some certificates of appreciation and We presented the chess tournament winners with their own chess sets and all participating students were presented with certificates commemorating their participation in the chess program. Late in the evening LWB 2016 team met with leaders and educators from the community to talk about best strategies for continuing a chess club after LWB 2016 departed. One teacher took responsibility for the chess sets left behind and for facilitating a chess club with the kids in the community. After this meeting it was quite late and we were pretty exhausted from a long day and a long week. But after all that had transpired in that day, we felt incredibly accomplished and inspired to see the buy in that the community had to what we brought, simply the enjoyment of the game of chess. And for us to see the leaders and educators of the community debate about how to keep it going, to “keep the flame lit” had us all in tears.
  • July 29th: LWB 2016 team spent a scheduled rest day at the beach where we spent time with the other teachers who participated in our program, ate a delicious seafood lunch, and relaxed. On the way back we bought some notebooks and other prizes for our students.
  • July 28th: Our program continued with a focus on preparing kids for their tournament coming up on Saturday. And then in the afternoon we had all of the kids help pick up trash on the soccer field. With kids who had been giving their chess puzzles answers to others, we had serious conversations about the importance of being good leaders and leading a strong smart group. The frustrations of copying really turned into strong genuine learning moments for many of the kids and the day of chess teaching turned out to be one of our most productive and rewarding. This was made especially true when officials from the local department of education dropped by to observe our program and commend our work. In the evening, we had Pupusas all together with Mabel’s family and we taught them how to play UNO and Mancala, games which they had but did not know how to play.
  • July 27th: Our program continued with kids getting to a point where they could complete entire games of chess using checkmates. Some frustrations came up for us as we noticed some kids had started indulging the bad habits to copy one another’s’ worksheets. In the evening we went on a tour of the Bosque adjacent to our community and saw a lot of new trees and wildlife that we had never seen before.
  • July 26th: Our program continued with kids learning to solve chess puzzles and master chess techniques such as the king queen checkmate. In the afternoon, we played soccer with the kids. And then in the evening we spent more time with our families.
  • July 25th: Our program continued with lots of enthusiastic participation and our students began making a lot of progress in their understanding of chess. In the evening, we went on a tour of a nearby sustainable farm where we ate fresh off vines mangoes and limes and learned a lot about the sustainable agricultural practices that farm had adopted over many years. This was significant, as this farm has persisted to be a sustainable farm with a diverse array of crops while much of the land in the area has been bought out for the production of sugar. And then later in the evening we ate a seafood stew with one of the head teachers who was participating in our chess program to learn and keep it going after we left.
  • July 24th: Our program continued with 10 more students joining, we gave out Learners Chess tee-shirts and we began having a recess time to play capture the flag. John and Jeremy got increasingly comfortable teaching chess to a large group of kids solely on Spanish. In the evening we spent time with our families.
  • July 23rd: The 2016 Chess Program of Amando Lopez kicked off with 30 students learning the very basics of chess. In the afternoon, we took a trip to a neighboring community where we took a river trip through the mangrove forests and ate delicious crab.
  • July 22nd: LWB 2016 team met with Jose and learned quite a bit about the history of the country and the communities where we’d be staying. We explored a bit of San Salvador, including a national museum/ palace, and ate lunch at a historical restaurant. In the afternoon, we headed to the community of Amando Lopez where we met our host families and moved in. In the evening, we had dinner and met with leaders in the community to talk about goals for the coming eight days of our program and the value of learning chess.
  • July 21st: LWB 2016 team safely traveled to San Salvador, El Salvador. We were warmly welcomed by Voices on the Border field staff and taken to a guest house in San Salvador where we stayed for the night.
  • July 7th: 75+ attended our launch party fundraiser and Learners Without Borders was covered on KOAT 7!

Meet our 2016 Team

Donate to John

John Bennett:

Donate to Jeremy

Jeremy Wesevich:

Donate to Victor

Victor Lopez:

 

Donate to Jack

Jack West:

Building Off the Work of Our 2013 Oklahoma Chess Camp

From June 10-14th, 2013, weeks after devastating tornadoes hit Moore, Oklahoma, Coach Victor and Coach Doug traveled to Moore to pitch into the community relief by running a free chess camp for the kids of Moore whose families were impacted by the devastating storms.

When we took on this effort, our ABQ chess community responded with an out-pouring of support!


Learn more about our 2013 Oklahoma Trip