Hun School senior Anna Massad ’19, knew that she would someday return to Colombia, the country of her birth. But she didn’t anticipate impacting the lives of hundreds of school children there.
“I left when I was a baby, but I always knew I would go back someday,” said Anna, whose mom and dad, Regina and Mark, adopted her and her brother, Mark ’18, there as infants. That “someday” came sooner than she thought.
After hearing about another teen who was assisting a school in Venezuela, Anna thought that she could do the same in her native Colombia. Fast forward to this summer, and Anna is establishing a non-profit, Educacion Sin Fronteras (Education Without Borders), to assist a grammar school, El Instituto El Nino Jesus, in Barranquilla, Colombia.
Anna connected with the school through a friend of her father last spring. She began Skyping with the school every Saturday (which is a school day there), conducting science experiments in near fluent Spanish, and teaching English. In May, she and her father visited for the first time. And in July, they went for a week. She taught for hours each day, and tried to impart the same kind of joyful learning she has experienced at Hun.
In addition to her teaching, she has secured the school a more reliable internet connection and purchased two large-screen TVs to assist in instruction. During her short time there, she realized that teaching English was the most valuable thing she could offer the students.
“English is crucial for them to have more opportunities in the future,” she said. Indeed, Anna secured a donation of English-teaching software from language company Rosetta Stone, and she’ll seek out other corporate donations through her non-profit.
Anna, unsure what to expect when she visited, was bowled over by her reception there.
“It was so amazing and emotional for me,” she said. “They treated me like a superstar; everyone was waving at me and was super excited that I was there.” Another thing that touched her heart: everybody looked like her.
“One little girl told her mother that she was expecting me to be tall and blonde,” she said of the American stereotype. “Instead, she told her mother, I looked ‘normal!’ “
Anna, who may study business and marketing in college, has learned many skills while establishing a non-profit, teaching, and in general, being a model global citizen.
“I am so excited and motivated to help these kids,” she said. “I plan to go back as much as I can throughout the year, to keep teaching via Skype, and help them enlarge the school.”
“Anna is developing, implementing, and teaching a curriculum of English and science to more than 200 elementary students,” said Mark Massad, her father, who is CEO of KB Corporate Finance, LLC, in Princeton. “I could not be more proud of her than when I see her in action in inner-city Barranquilla, Colombia giving back to her birth country.”