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History

Stage 1 Growing the programs
 
Activiteca's first Honduran location was in Juticalpa, Olancho. At this fair, kids had to estimate the weight of an orange before it was hung on the scale, and were often surprised at being far off.
In Austin Archie and Joan began buying learning materials and soliciting used ones from Austin citizens and schools; with help from diocesan funding, they shipped them to Honduras in containers. In Honduras Joan ordered the construction of large cabinets, and catalogued the materials to be displayed in them. The Activiteca collection was set up in a series of borrowed spaces, and teachers were invited to come to borrow materials and take workshops in using them. Because few teachers seemed to want to change their methods, she began offering out-of-school-time Club Activiteca sessions, and organizing learning fairs. She recruited local high school and college students as volunteer helpers, some of whom became long-term supporters (see Testimonies). She continued and expanded these programs at each new location, getting an enthusiastic reaction from the youngsters and the local media, but a sluggish response from teachers. 
 
In its second location, Catacamas, Olancho, Activiteca's services expanded to special groups, such as a monthly fair for patients in a rehab program for substance abuse. At this table they learn to identify fabrics.
The biggest problem was finding a permanent home with space for the growing collection and activities. For years Archie and Joan searched all of Honduras without success, until in 2008 they placed an announcement in a national newspaper about the availability of a donation of the collection, now worth $50,000. Of the dozens of organizations that called or wrote asking for the donation, one candidate won out: Fundación para el Desarrollo de Honduras (FUNADEH). Signing a contract with Funadeh to continue the educational programs as designed, Archie and Joan moved the whole collection and their household goods from Olancho to the northern edge of Honduras, San Pedro Sula, and set up an Activiteca center in Funadeh's building in a low-income sector of the city. Joan recruited a coordinator for the Activiteca programs and trained her for a year, and returned to the States when a second professional was hired by Funadeh, so that the Activiteca center could offer a broader range of services.
 
 
Club Activiteca at Funadeh in San Pedro Sula. This program was a walk-in activity held outside of school hours. Since  Honduran schools had only half-day sessions,  Club Activiteca was open both mornings and afternoons.
Stage 2

Archie and Joan decided to continue promoting Activiteca-type education in Texas, and so formed Activiteca International to offer training and use of materials in Central Texas, as well as keep an eye on the program in Honduras, which they hoped to expand to have at least a second center.  Joan started building a collection for this home-based center, and began looking for places to do training of staff and volunteers.

Stage 3

Unfortunately, within 4 years Funadeh had begun to fail on the contract conditions, and heightened gang activity in the neighborhood reduced the number of kids and youth visiting the Funadeh center. Finally Activiteca had to be closed at the end of 2012.   The collection was locked up in the building.

Stage 4    Finding a new permanent home
Joan and Archie spent most of 2013 looking for qualified recipients for the Activiteca programs, in countries near Honduras as well as in the U.S. Finally with a San Antonio university showing interest in the Honduran collection, she went down in October of 2013 to pack up and ship the collection to Texas. When the Texas university backed out, she decided to divide the large collection into two smaller ones that would be easier to handle, and found two schools in a town near San Pedro Sula called El Progreso.
 
At a training session for El Progreso teachers, a volunteer demonstrates a lesson on the history of paper with a poem scroll and other paper artifacts from China.
Stage 5
 
At San Jose Elementary school and Loyola Technical Institute (a private vocational high school for low-income boys), for the first time Activiteca methods and materials were able to be introduced into schools at more than a token level. The agreement with these institutions requires them not only to use the materials with their own students, but to offer out-of-school learning opportunities  to their neighborhoods and other schools, so that the public can have increased access to knowledge, and other teachers can improve their classes.

Stage 6

Unfortunately, after a year it became evident that at the public school, San Jose, the conditions and restraints of the national school system made it impossible to carry out Activiteca services for the public, so in 2014 the collection was moved to another vocational school in another town. It is now in Urraco, about 30 miles north of El Progreso, surrounded by palm plantations.  Named Instituto Nazaret, this vocational school, like Loyola, is a former Jesuit-run private school that now is a nondenominational institution for low-income or at-risk students.  At each of these schools, Activiteca has established a Honduran coordinator to help teachers use the materials and methods in their classes, and to organize learning events for the public in their area.  These two, Dina Rivera at Loyola, and Wilson Olivera at Nazaret, are paid the same salary as the regular teachers, and are devoted full-time to promoting the interactive education model.  A new aspect of their work is the project to install solar power at both places, starting with Loyola, to reduce the high electric bills that come with workshops full of machinery.  The Activiteca coordinators are helping involve the students in understanding the scientific, economic, and social implications of this technology for them and for Honduras.  

Activiteca International now has established programs in two countries, with the same functions for reaching out immediately to the local population that most needs education in these fields.  Besides providing deeper educational experiences to people, the ultimate goal is to create a core of certified trainers who can carry on the Activiteca ideas and methods into whatever structures exist, whether in formal or informal education, to insure the presence and bodily involvement of the whole human in learning, especially in under-served populations.
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