Every year since I have arrived at Minnechaug, there has been a week in which students and teachers have set up and sold bracelets, “pulseras”, to the staff and students. I myself have even helped to sell these during my lunch period. Each of the bracelets is vibrant and well crafted, catching the attention of many students at Chaug, and for good reason.
Each of these bracelets is handcrafted by artists in Nicaragua and Guatemala who have partnered with about 3,000 U.S. schools. These artists have the time, skill, and talent to make these bracelets, and our school is one of many who have helped to provide them with a proper marketplace to sell them.
For the past two years, Sra. Francis and Sra. Lewis have been running the Spanish club and working to ensure the Pulsera Project flourished within our school. They also had help from Doctora Benedetti who, along with her International Club, helped to bring the bracelets to the school in the first place.
Some students, myself included, were wondering how, exactly, the Pulsera Project got to this school, and Sra. Lewis was more than happy to provide me with the tale. She had originally gotten into the project while she worked at Thornton Burgess Middle School, and several of her students loved it.
So, when they eventually came to Minnechaug, and some of them joined the International Club, which Doctora Benedetti was running at the time, they acted on her suggestion to bring the project here, as well. Therefore, when Sra. Lewis herself arrived at ‘Chaug, they were able to get this project up and running, an idea met with enthusiasm from staff and students alike. And ever since then, we have had the Pulsera Project here at ‘Chaug.
There have been a few other changes to how this project has been run due to COVID this year. Students have to work alone in selling them during lunches in order to follow COVID safety guidelines. This means that they have to sell, carry everything, and keep track of the money.
They also have to ensure that everything is sanitary. Before they hand out any bracelets, they make sure to sanitize their hands or wear gloves so that there is no contamination on the bracelets.
Furthermore, students are not able to touch the bracelets unless they have already purchased them. This is to ensure that everyone stays safe during this time. So, don’t worry everyone, you can still participate in this amazing project without having to stress about COVID safety, all the students who are selling these bracelets are making sure to be very careful as they pass them out.
The purpose of this project is to act as partners to the artists in Guatemala and Nicaragua. This was a point Sra. Lewis and Francis both wanted to make clear.
As Sra. Lewis said, “we don’t see this as ‘helping the poor’, we see this as partnering with people who don’t have the outlet, the place, to sell the bracelets at a fair price. We’re just happy to partner with these very talented artisans in Nicaragua and Guatemala and give them a place to sell their bracelets at a profit that can help them to make their lives better in terms of improving their housing and education and a lot of things they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do in the current market where they live”.
These artists in Nicaragua and Guatemala are not lacking in talent, skill, time management, or motivation in any way shape or form, they just don’t always have the right market to sell these bracelets at a fair price due to the poverty that exists where they live.
By partnering with the Pulsera Project we are able to help provide them with a market so that they can sell these bracelets in a market where they can earn a fair price.
The important part of this project is that “we are listening and learning from one another”, as Sra. Lewis put it.
By selling these bracelets and learning about the project, each student at ‘Chaug has an opportunity to learn a little more about life in Nicaragua and Guatemala, and have the opportunity to buy a beautiful bracelet in the process.