Global Volunteers salutes Jim and Carla La Rochelle for their exceptional service as Global Volunteers since 2005. Jim has served on 8 service programs in Cuba, St. Lucia, Montana, Costa Rica, Poland and Mexico and Carla, his wife, has joined him on 6 of these. Jim and Carla, who are both retired teachers, have participated on a wide variety of work projects from tutoring conversational English to local students to painting and light labor projects. Jim and Carla jump right in and lend a hand wherever their help and skills are needed!
“I’ve enjoyed projects that involved labor projects or tutoring high school and university students in conversational English. Having been a middle school counselor and teacher during my 35 year career, I felt these programs were easily within my skill levels and I looked forward to working with students in their native cities, or countries. I believe having men involved in such service programs benefits the students because it demonstrates that both men and women both have something to offer in terms of skills, social interaction and cultural exchange. It also demonstrates that men can be as giving as women when it comes to providing services to students and adults in their native settings.
My other service programs involved working with local people on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, which involved clearing weeds and debris; removing chain link fencing; planting shrubs; and moving furniture at various locations on tribal land. It was especially enjoyable because our adult daughter and grandson joined my wife, Carla, and me on this program. I also did hands on work twice in Santa Elena, Costa Rica, helping with constructing mobile cabinets; removing bark from wood to be used in making chairs for a dining area at CASEM, a womens’ artisan cooperative; and also renovating and redecorating a room for displaying local art works for sale there.
In Anse La Raye, St. Lucia, I was involved working with the local people in continuing construction and painting of a teachers’ workroom and student sick room at an elementary school. We also built a wooden wall to create separate rooms in one of the buildings at a nearby middle school. This project also appealed to me because of Global Volunteer’s plan to provide services to the community to deal with many facets of life there, including physical and mental health care, child care, nutrition education, school programs and facilities, etc. There, Carla pitched in and helped plant much needed earth boxes for local mothers to grow their own vegetables in providing proper nutrition for their children. Such an approach provides numerous ways for both men and women to participate and accomplish worthy goals.
I strongly embrace Global Volunteers’ concept of working with communities on programs and projects that require matched participation from locals. It is an opportunity for Americans (and others) to work together to improve lives and exchange cultural understandings. We are not there to do something for them, as much as to do something with them, to achieve their goals”.
Notes to Jim and Carla from Kathy Skinner, your Global Volunteers Team Leader in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba:
Kathy described both of you as exemplary, seasoned Global Volunteers whose positive attitudes were infectious. Jim, you were willing to do whatever was needed for the success of the project and always contributed interesting and important comments and insights about the circumstances. You thoroughly enjoyed the garden project and the local workers, and found particular joy in the social events, singing and dancing with the local people!
Carla, you were always willing to go the extra mile for the team and the local people with whom you worked, and with a smile on your face. You very much enjoyed working with the staff in the water project and learned a great deal! Both of you were especially effective with the students you taught conversational English. The one on one attention from experienced teachers, such as yourselves, was more than any student could wish for, and you “hit the ball out of the park”!
Jim and Carla, we can always count on you for being superb Global Volunteers! Thank you!