Patricia Arias has been on the SALEM Ecuador team for eleven years and is currently the guide for the pre-teen after school group. Patty is a Mindo native and has always been interested in education. She started out as a teacher in a few of the local schools, eventually coming to work at SALEM with the younger children’s groups. Her talent for connecting with the older kids was quickly noticed. During her time at SALEM she has been a guide for both the pre-teen and teen after school groups. Thanks to Patty’s calm, consistent and guiding presence, the Teen Center Cabin at SALEM Ecuador has become a haven for the SALEM teens.
When asked about her work with teens, Patty reflects warmly on Federico (his name has been changed here to protect his privacy). 5 years ago, Federico was a poor kid with many siblings on the verge of being kicked out of the local high school. His family lacked a type of structure that could give him stability and guidance. He was quick to rise to anger, often fighting with his schoolmates. His teachers had no more patience or hope for him.
When Federico began attending SALEM’s after school program as a 9-year-old in the pre-teen group, Patty focused on showing him how to comply with the rules and limits at the SALEM center. Speaking without yelling, refraining from using swear words and nicknames with the other kids, completing schoolwork on time and enjoying free time activities at the center were a few of the hardest tasks for Federico. With much patience and consistent contact, Patty slowly gained Federico’s trust and confidence. Soon, he earned privileges at SALEM and began to enjoy extra projects and activities. Both he and Patty moved to the teen group. He had more independence and his demeanor changed. His grades in school went up, his behavior stabilized and his mother began attending SALEM workshops and events.
Last year Patty had the honor of presenting Federico with a hard-earned SALEM diploma that represents academic achievement and fulfillment of SALEM agreements. The diploma is a show of recognition and source of pride for Federico, now 14 years old. Patty shares that it is moments like these that are the greatest gifts that SALEM has given her. Watch Patty’s message to Federico and all children here .
Patty wants to see all of the kids & teens at SALEM study, be successful and grow into happy, healthy adults. We are grateful for her hard work and look forward to many more years working side by side with her.
To meet more of the SALEM team, read more here