Nadine D., Christel House South Africa
Academically speaking, I was an average student and I wasn’t really motivated to do and strive for my best before coming to Christel House. There is the possibility that I didn’t have the resources. In other words – Christel provided me with the one-on-one attention from my teachers and technology to do my work at an optimal level. One of what I call “personal challenges” that I faced, was that I didn’t have the self-confidence and self-motivation to stand in front of a group of people and speak. Surprisingly, I lacked self-esteem because I didn’t believe in myself or in my abilities.
The quote, “...I believe I can realize my fullest potential,” is just a part of my school’s credo, and just touches the surface as to how Christel House has impacted my life positively. In my opinion, realizing your (fullest) potential is imperative, because it’s as if you’re finding your true capability.
In the year 2012, I was elected by my fellow students as the Head Student (for the 2012-2013 school year). Somehow I never envisioned that I’d be acknowledged as a leader. As I’ve mentioned previously, I never had the confidence to stand up in front of a crowd and speak. But today, thanks to all the motivation and public speaking that I did in primary school, I am able to lead the entire school; whether it be into song or into the school’s credo. This is truly an indicator that my confidence levels have been boosted and are continuing to be boosted daily. Speaking of primary school...
I had constant motivation not only from my primary teachers, but from the high school teachers as well. I believe there is a saying that you cannot realize your fullest abilities without the help of others. Other than outside motivation, being a learner at Christel House has also helped me to become a self-motivator, in other words -- being able to tell myself constantly that I can achieve anything.
In terms of my academics, I am proud to say that with the outstanding and continuous help from my teachers, I have come out to be the most diligent and conscientious learner, even if I have to say so myself. I have also become a learner that will always strive to do my best and continue to believe that I can do anything!
I would love to have my own psychology practice. People often don’t understand why I’d want to do that, but I have this habit of investigating why people do certain things, and look at reasons as to how I can attempt to change people’s thoughts. So far, I have not succeeded, but with all the above mentioned “resources”, my hopes and dreams for the future are endless!
Maggie B., Alumni, Christel House Mexico
Before going to Christel House Mexico (CHM), I use to be in day care all day along with my sister. My mom could not care for us because she needed to work all day long.
I studied to be a social worker. My first formal job was as a receptionist at CHM, and at the same time I worked, I began to study Psychology and obtained my bachelor’s degree. Now I am working at the CHM Community Area, where I´m in charge of the selection process of the new students through socio-economic studies. This part of my job is what I love the most and what motivates me.
I am proud to be part of this big family, which is Christel House. I have two major reasons for it: the first one is because of the fact that I have formed and grown professionally in it. The second one is because Christel House is aware of our society and the people who need it most; people trust and put their hopes in Christel House.
Donors and staff are convinced that all together we will be able to improve the quality of lives; not only the ones of those who have grown up at Christel House, but also the lives of future generations.
Today, I know that as an alumni of CHM the best way to move forward is in the memory of others and helping and supporting this great mission. To be part of their lives, giving them the best of me the same way Christel House gave to me. I want to thank the whole community for trusting in me.
To those who are part of CHM I would like to send a message of optimism, looking inside the force that brought you to work and support this beautiful and amazing task. Do not lose the faith and please continue believing in our children.
Today I know that others need us too, and I’m going to support them in being a good role model by caring, sharing and making a difference everywhere.
Juan Muciño D., Student, Christel House Mexico
I was born on August 13, 1996, in Mexico City. I live with my parents and my little brother. My dad works as an electrician. My family loves talking all together about different topics; we love movies, and we visit museums and parks. What I love about my family is that I know I can always count on them, we are very close. My parents think that Christel House Mexico (CHM) gave me many tools to be a better student and better person, and opportunities that I would never have had otherwise.
I knew of the existence of Christel House from the principal of the elementary school (a public one) where I studied. Before Christel House, in a public school, I wasn’t a good student; I had many problems finding the right school for me.
I joined Christel House in 7th grade, now I’m in 9th grade, and I think it is the best opportunity of my life.
The first time that I entered Christel House I fell in love with it, and I thought, “I don’t care the price, I want to be here. I will do everything that I need to study here.” When I saw the music room I thought, “I want to be here the rest of my life.” On my first day of class many times I told myself, “I can’t believe that I can study here.”
I think all the students of Christel House are a big family, everybody respects everyone. The love that I can feel in Christel House is extraordinary.
Since 7th grade I have participated in MORMUN (a United Nations Model) with the German School, Alexander Von Humbolt. Last school year I went to Oaxtepec, Morelos, and I participated in an international forum. It was a great experience! This experience gave me more confidence in myself and more tools for oral expression.
I like that Christel House Mexico is not just a school. For me, it’s my second home. Everybody always cares for us, in all aspects. At CHM every student has someone who can help them, or talk about things and also give advice if they need it.
I always have excellent teachers, the best of the world, I think… But I have my top two... Miss Claudia (Civic & Ethics and Career Counseling teacher) shares with me her discipline, her guidance to be better day to day, and how to make decisions. She teaches me that I have to analyze all the situations and consequences before making a decision.
Teacher Ignacio, my goodness! Great teacher! He loves to teach. When you have class with him, you can feel it. Also for me and for many of my classmates, he is like a father. Thanks to him I love math.
At CHM I improve my English. I read, write, speak better, and also I improve my music abilities. Music is my passion. I am part of the CHM Upper School Chorus. I love being the drummer. Last school year, my group and I participated in a program “Relay for Education”, and we did some activities to fund money to buy musical instruments. This year with that money CHM bought a drum set! And I played it in a Christmas Festival. It was awesome!
Next month I will start to prepare for my admission test to high school. CHM gives all 9th graders a scholarship to take a training class for this exam. That is a great help, because if CHM didn’t give it to me, I could not take it because it is expensive. By taking it I have more opportunities to join the high school that I want.
This is my last school year as a formal CHM student. I will enroll in high school in July and I will be a CHM alumni. Christel House always can count on me, because I feel the commitment to give back what I get…
I can say many good things about Christel House, but I will summarize all those great things by saying: Thanks for changing my life and my family’s!
Here I am playing the drums
Maldren J., Student, Christel House India, Class of 2013
I am Maldren J. from grade 12. I have lived in Christel House India for the past 10 years travelling on the path to knowledge. And what a wonderful journey it has been! Christel House is not just a school; it has been a home away from home, where children like me have had the liberty to express their views and ideas, and in the process, learned a thousand new things.
I have learned so much here - I have been a part of the Adobe Youth Voices program, and robotics and cultural programs which have helped me to learn new things.
After I complete Grade 12, I want to study Engineering, after which I want to join the Indian Air Force. I aim to be a pilot and serve my nation. I have always found encouragement and support from my teachers to dream big. My teachers and counselors are constantly guiding me to live my life the right way. My teachers have continuously strengthened and inspired me, without which I would’ve never reached this moment. Their love and caring for me will be a very important part of me. I will always remember my dear teachers with the utmost regard. They have done more than I can express in words. I thank them so very much for all that they have given me.
“What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are small matters compared to what lies within us.” This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson is correct in my case, as Christel House has helped me to recognize myself. Thank you Christel ma’am, for giving me such amazing teachers.
Today, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to one of the most important persons in my life, Christel ma’am. Your support, ma’am, and your undiminishing love, is what has made me and all my classmates who we are today. You have given us everything we could possibly want, not just in school, but have also made us capable of getting ahead in life. You have made our childhood so happy; we will have so many memories to cherish. Thank you very, very much for letting me grow up into the special person I have become today.
Ten years ago, when I walked into Christel House, I was a frightened child, but today I can walk out into the world with pride, with confidence and my head held high. I promise you, Christel ma’am, I will become a shining star and proudly tell the whole world, I am a ‘Christel Houser’.
Brandon R., Alumni, Christel House South Africa
In 2002, Brandon R. was enrolled in grade 3 at Christel House South Africa (CHSA). He is the second eldest of three children in the family. When Brandon started at Christel House his mother was unemployed and his father was a casual worker at the dockyard in Cape Town. Many people queued at the dockyard for casual work, and therefore his father made sure that he reached the dockyard at four o’clock every morning to try and be employed for the day. Some days he was fortunate to be employed, and other days when there was no work for him, he would try and find any scrap in the community to sell so that food could be provided for supper.
Mrs. R. is extremely grateful to Christel House because in those trying times, they did not have to be concerned about breakfast, school fees, snacks or school clothes for Brandon. She says if it was not for CHSA then Brandon could have become a ‘drop out’ because of their financial situation.
In 2012, Mr. and Mrs. R. were both employed for six years, but on July 10, 2012 the family faced a traumatic ordeal when Brandon answered a knock on their door. He was faced with two gangsters who forced their way into their house and Brandon had to flee because they randomly fired shots at him. When Mrs. R. ran out of her bedroom to protect her two daughters, the gangsters shot her (in her right leg) several times, and shot and killed his father. The gangsters had chosen the wrong house by mistake.
Mrs. R. was hospitalized for a few months and her right leg had to be amputated. The family then moved in with her brother. Brandon’s youngest sister, Amy, is currently at Christel House in grade 7, and their mother regards CHSA as a huge support as Amy is receiving free education; and now that she is once more unemployed, she does not have to worry about Amy’s schooling at all.
Brandon says that the Christel House core values: respect, responsibility, integrity and independence, that he repeated every day in grade 3, made a difference in his life. His way of thinking differs from other young people his age because he says, “Christel House taught me that there is a world out there where I can achieve many things that seem impossible in my community. I am not afraid to travel; I can become and live my dream in life. There was a time in grade 10 when I wanted to leave school because of our financial situation, but I was motivated by Christel House to make a success of my life. The guidance counsellor forwarded my curriculum vitae for a hospitality learnership at Table Mountain (which started in June 2012), and before the end of this learnership she forwarded my curriculum vitae to the Mount Nelson Hotel for an internship. Another dream came true in April 2013, when I started a hospitality internship at the luxurious five star hotel, the Mount Nelson, in Cape Town. I matriculated in 2011, but Christel House gave me hope after the sad loss of my father with their continuous support, and due to this internship I am able to help to sustain our family.”(As told by Brandon R. to Esmeralda P., CHSA Work-Study Coordinator)
Brandon and his mom
Kay-Lee J., Student, Christel House South Africa
Growing up in poverty-stricken surroundings, with only a mom and without a dad was hard. My shack where we lived was in a family member’s backyard. Moving from one family member to the next was a hard life for me. However, during those times, though it was hard growing up and I didn’t really understand everything, I wasn’t alone because my mom would show her love and support through all the tough times.
The support from the staff of Christel House has always been helpful. My mom was an alcoholic, but never neglected me. I was always invited at school to do certain things that I didn’t have in my life at home. Many things that other children had, but I couldn’t afford. My life before Christel House felt as if it was closed in a box.
Christel House impacted my life in a big way. The changes that happened in my life also made a change in the lives of my family. Christel House has made me the studious young girl that I am today. They molded, folded and shaped me, and the morals and values they’ve taught me over the years have helped create the strong, hardworking, respectable girl that I am today.
Christel House’s teachers have practically been my mothers and fathers for 12 years, because most of the time they oversaw, provided, supported, helped and taught me what I know today, that not even my family told me. When I look back on my life now, I can acknowledge the patience they took in developing me. The limited resources that I used to have are no more. That is now a thing of the past. I’ve been on outings, excursions, camping, fitness and training after school, Saturday schoolwork, study provision, and am in a leadership position.
The impact that the staff and teachers of Christel House have on my life is highly appreciated. My goodness, my potential, and my achievements are partially thanks to them. Without them, I couldn’t have come this far. “You feed a hungry person for a day, but if you teach a hungry person how to fish then you’ll feed them for a life time.” I could write a book on my life, but out of all the chapters, Christel House would be the start, middle and the end. That’s what Christel House means to me.
What are my hopes and dreams for the future?
My hopes and dreams are to matriculate and get a bachelor’s degree after being accepted to either University of Western Cape or at the College of Cape Town. This is now possible, because I have all the resources I need. The support of teachers and learners makes it possible. The field that I want to follow as a career would be either Civil Engineering or Social Work. I enjoy the challenge of unfolding something so simple into a different thing. Overall, my hope is to build a better future for myself and for my family. I want to do the best I can and to be the best I can be, and to produce the best I can.
I love to work and help out others. I have the ear and the heart to extend my love to others in need, and because of Christel House, I can now pass it on to others. Studying social work would be to break the cycle of poverty, but also to continue the love, kindness and everything that I’ve learnt here and to pass it on.
Smita Chavan K., Teacher, Christel House India
When I was a kid, my uncle always used to say, “Just planting a sapling is not enough, it needs to be nurtured well.” I’d almost forgotten those words until I met Suraj M.’s family at his home. I always felt that my worries were more challenging until I met Suraj’s family – an optically challenged ailing grandpa, an aging granny who still has to run the chores at home, an alcoholic father, and a mother who is mostly away from home due to regular quarrels with the father. Amidst all this, the only people Suraj can connect with are his Aaji (granny), his younger sibling Pooja, and a calf, which he bathes every day.
Only his granny seems delighted that her grandson is going to school. While pouring tea for me in the only cup they have in that shanty, she poured out her heart too. Suraj’s father is the only semi-literate person in their family and has studied till grade 4, after which he quit school and worked as a driver. “But he is drowned in alcohol now,” she wept her sorrow. Most people in that little remote village, which people know as Lavasa today, were not even aware what school meant. In such a situation, when Christel House Lavasa started its operations, like Suraj’s father, not many people were keen to send their kids to the school. Aaji told me in Marathi, “Those school-bus drivers were determined to take Suraj to school. And quite frankly, I too, was keen to send him to school. At least he would get something to eat during the day, that too for free. He was so lean three years back. Even now we cannot afford to feed him properly.”
And I just remembered the tiny tot hopping like a squirrel three years back. Suraj was actually very weak physically. But he had tons of enthusiasm to come to school and learn new things. Everyday he’d come running and hop on to my lap hugging me tight. Maybe he missed his mother’s affection. Three years down the line, with proper education, supplemented by good food and medical attention, Suraj has not only become healthier, but he is now sparkling like a rising Sun; his name signifies the rising sun (Suraj).
Aaji continued, “I don’t understand a word he speaks, but thanks to you teachers, he can talk in Vingraji (English) now. I just wish that someday he becomes a big Saaheb (Officer).” At that moment I was moved by Suraj’s suffering, but at the same time I felt proud that I was one of those teachers who could at least bring a smile to Aaji’s face. Earlier she had to worry about what to feed him, but now she can dream of Suraj becoming an officer.
When I shared Suraj’s plight with my co-teachers, I realized that there are many such kids in our school who have some or the other hardship to face. But due to the marvels that Christel House Lavasa has achieved in the past three years of its operation, now even the outlook of parents has changed. Now they send their children to the school for learning and not just for free food. They have understood the importance of education.
If within just four years of its operation, Christel House Lavasa could manage to make a difference in the way of thinking of parents, I’m confident that, with our continued efforts in nurturing these saplings, each of these children will grow to become a Saaheb in their future.
Sheetal P., Mother of Abhishek P., Student, Christel House India
My name is Ms. Sheetal P. I have two children studying at Christel House Lavasa. Previously, my children studied in a Marathi-Medium school in Pune. There were no English speaking teachers in that school because it was a small Zila Parishad school.
One day, my husband went to Lavasa and he heard about Christel House, which was planning to start a new school. It would be providing free education to the children around the villages here. When I heard this, I was excited and sent my children to be tested. After a test they were admitted to the school.
It was like a dream come true! My children not only were taken to school in the school bus, but were also given free meals, books, bags and also shoes and socks.
I was also wonderstruck by the way they started to converse in English language in just over a year. Also, they started sharing amazing information about the world with me. This was very heartening for me because this kind of sharing was unprecedented. They tried to teach me whatever they learnt in their school. Their enthusiasm for their new world called Christel House was unbelievable!
I often wondered about this beautiful place, until I also joined the school as a member of the support staff. Now I am also a part of this glorious transformation.
In the last three years my children have grown beyond my imagination. They are full of confidence and dare to dream to become an engineer and a doctor. I am very hopeful for my children. They will one day grow up to be influential adults. Now I understand the meaning of good education and I pray for Christel Ma’am, Nalini Ma’am, Monica Ma’am ad Jaya Ma’am and all those who have enabled this to happen.
Becky A., Director, Christel House Indianapolis
A few weeks ago, I attended the very first graduation for our Christel House Drop Out Recovery School (DORS) here in Indianapolis. It is a program where adults, age 18 and older, can earn their high school diplomas (not a GED) and college credit at a local community college at the same time. We launched the program in August 2012, and in our first year, have approximately 175 students ranging in age from 18 – 53.
Our first graduating class consisted of 5 students, four women and a man. They ranged in age from 19 to 34 and had 9 children between them. All of them have struggled to make ends meet on minimum wage pay and were searching for better lives for themselves and their families. Life is tough, but even more so when you don’t have a high school diploma. The average high school graduate earns $8,000 more a year than a person without a diploma. That extra $8,000 a year means the ability to put food on the table, buy diapers for babies, put gas in the car and pay the electric bill each month. It also translates into an extra $300,000 in earnings over a lifetime. It has a significant impact on a family’s quality of life and on a person’s own self-worth.
Each of our graduates had a dream to earn their high school diploma. As I watched them march in to “Pomp and Circumstance,” wearing their caps and gowns, I thought about how much courage it must take to return to school after not having a positive experience the first time. All of them juggle jobs, families and school work. It has been an uphill battle, but they didn’t give up. They were not looking for handouts. They were willing to put in the work to improve their lives. They just needed a place to do that. That place is Christel House.
As I congratulated them, each one told me how hard they worked to achieve this milestone in their lives. The young man told me there were days he just wanted to give up and would think about blowing off class, but his classmates would text him and tell him he needed to come to school. One of the young women told me that she was deeply grateful to our principal, Emily, who was both tough on her and her biggest champion. She gained the self-confidence she needed to understand that she can do anything she sets her mind to do. That young woman is going on to study at our local community college now.
The commencement speech was delivered by Christel DeHaan, the founder of Christel House and co-founder of RCI. She shared with the graduates her thoughts on how to live a successful life. Work hard. Believe in yourself. Set goals. Surround yourself with good people. Good advice coming from anyone, but most poignant because of who was speaking.
I’ve heard Christel DeHaan give that same advice many times before and I’ve seen her live it. My first job out of college was at RCI and I am fortunate to work with her at Christel House. You may not know this, but RCI was started in her living room nearly 40 years ago. She set goals, worked hard and surrounded herself with good people. What started as a home-based, fledgling business is now a leader in the vacation ownership industry and a multi-national company that sends millions of people on vacation around the world each year.
“Work hard. Believe in yourself. Set goals. Surround yourself with good people.” It works. I hope our graduates carry that advice with them throughout their lives.
Dhanush G., Student, Christel House India, Class of 2013
10 years ago I started my journey with Christel House India (CHI) in the 3rd Grade. I had the opportunity to grow with Christel House from a sapling to a big tree. Christel House provided a safe haven and a holistic education to hundreds of students like me.
I get to take home with me memories of my happy and carefree childhood at CHI- playing football, despite the scorching sun or heavy rain; adding color to my ideas on canvas, and singing off-key in music class.
Sometimes, I wonder what my life would have been without Christel House. Maybe I would have been an ordinary person studying in an ordinary school, but CHI has given me the gift of education and nurtured me to become the kind of person who will go on to make a difference in the world. CHI has given me the confidence to know that not only will I be able to provide for my family, but also be able to provide for many like me in the near future.
On this day my friends and I embark upon a journey to scale great heights in our lives, I have to thank Christel Ma’am for letting me be a part of her family all these years. I know the value of what she has given me; I promise to cherish it and live up to the high standards CHI has taught me to live by. She has shown me the right path; I will walk along it diligently and bring glory to my school.
I take this opportunity to thank all my teachers, for their support and dedication in helping me traverse this path. I was pliable clay that you shaped into a complete person. I end my speech with the words of the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. This is a message to my friends- “Live as if you were to die tomorrow and learn as if you were to live forever.”
Babalwa K., Student, Christel House South Africa
Christel House means a lot to me. I’m at the school now for almost 11 years. In those years I’ve grown as a person and realized how much my education means to me. Christel House has instilled values in me that I will always remember and carry out in life. Christel House has done so much for me and I really appreciate it. Christel House is a brilliant school that’s transforming lives and making a tremendous impact on the children’s lives.
Archana R., Student, Christel House India
I have attended Christel House for the past nine years, and it’s been one of the greatest gifts in my life. Christel House has given me more than I can ask for. The best gift was the trip to Culver Academy this summer. I was excited to be in a new country so very far from my own. At the start of camp I was really nervous and excited. It was at this time that I was most thankful to Becky and Mandi (from Christel House) for helping me settle into life at Culver! Each day at Culver was an unforgettable one. I made many friends from around the world. I also tried many new sports and activities, such as basketball, swimming, diving and shooting. I achieved bronze medals in all these activities by passing the required tests. The “Great Race” was also great fun. Through all of these activities, I have developed strong teamwork and social skills.
Soon after camp we went to Christel Ma’am's house, swam in her pool and rode in golf carts. Over dinner, we got to share our great experiences with Christel Ma’am.
Our trips to New York and New Jersey gave us the chance to do some sightseeing and buy some nice gifts. I had a lot of fun and would like to thank everyone at Wyndham with a special hearty thanks to Mr. Geoff and Mr. and Mrs. Holmes.
I would like to thank everyone else who made this trip so memorable for me. I have gained so much self-confidence after attending the camp and have enjoyed sharing my experiences with everyone here in Christel House India. I will miss my Christel House cousins, with whom I have built lifelong friendships. I look forward to seeing everyone again next year.
Tania A., Lower School Principal, Christel House Mexico
It’s been a year since I came to Christel House Mexico and still remember my first week of work. Students were not yet in the building, and those were days filled of emotion and great expectations. I believed that there would be many things that I could offer to this school.
It wasn’t until the first day of school that my ideas underwent a tremendous transformation. From that day and all I’ve been through since, I understand that beyond what I can do for the Christel House Mexico community, it has done more for me. Every moment I spend here, every child who greets me, every passionate teacher and every grateful parent fills me with a new energy, a desire to be the best person I can be, always hoping that tomorrow I´ll be even better.
Christel House is the dream that some of us have been privileged to enjoy. A place where it doesn’t matter if you're a kid or an adult, where you come from or how much you own, you will always feel beloved, valued and safe. Throughout the programs and desires with which our team works, our children and their families know that their future is completely different from what they might have had. In Mexico, we often hear what we need to make the change. How can we improve the conditions of our people? The answer is simple, give a dignified place and loving education to all and the change is imminent; and that's Christel House, a huge opportunity to create the difference.
For me it´s an honor to be part of this family, and my obligation is to grow our mission by inviting more people in so that transformation can take place.
Jacinto V., Christel House Graduate, Christel House Venezuela
My Name is Jacinto and I am 22 years old. I am the son of a poor family in the city of Caracas in the popular neighborhood of La Vega; the son of a family that has worked hard to carry forward their four children despite economic difficulties.
My life changed in 2001 when joining Christel House Venezuela (CHV). It changed my perspective on life 180-degrees. There, I was taught the pillars that sustain me today: respect, honesty, integrity, responsibility. With much joy all days I wake up to study because the school taught me that besides being a student, I am part of the Christel House family. During five years the school provided me with quality education, study material, uniforms, balanced meals, structure and especially the ability to plan strategies to improve my quality of life.
In 2007 I graduated from CHV. For me it was my first big achievement, no one in my family had graduated from high school before. The sad part was that I thought that I was losing a school that was already part of me. Soon I realized that I was wrong. CHV made efforts to include me in the Citibank apprenticeship program. It was an excellent opportunity to fight further for a better future and I gained an advantage from it.
In 2008, I entered the University Simon Rodriguez where currently I am finishing my studies in Financial Resources. CHV continues to support me and all of the graduates. Believe it or not, they keep contact with us every month and organize meetings for alumni all the time.
Today I am very proud of belonging to one of the best financial institutions in Venezuela and the world, with five years of experience as System Manager Collections in Citibank Venezuela. Thanks to Christel House, I've exceeded my expectations for success.
If I had not found Christel House, delinquency and economic problems, very common in my country, would have dragged me down a bad path. My life would have been very different, aimless like a drifting ship. This is part of the reality in my country, but CHV changed the destination of my life and the lives of many other students. I thank God that there are people like Christel DeHaan and I do not have enough words to thank her for changing my life.
My life is Christel House Venezuela.
Randal D., Educator and Fencing Coach, Christel House South Africa
I joined Christel House South Africa in 2006 and it is a privilege to be teaching our learners. Fencing started at Christel House in 2006 with donations of used equipment. At the time we started a dream that lead to a reality. We teach our learners not to be or feel inferior; this was a major plus to our success.
In the area of sports, Christel House South Africa fencing has received international recognition by producing the first and only Fencing Junior Olympian to compete in Singapore. Since 2006, we have produced five learners with Junior National Colours. They have competed in Catania, Turkey, Russia, Algeria and South Korea. One of our ex-learners, Kristen, has just returned from Dakar, Senagal after studying there for the past 10 months to become a qualified, internationally recognized fencing coach in Foil, Epee and Sabre. At the Junior National Championships held in Pretoria in the fall of 2012, we returned with five Bronze medals and a Silver. Two of our fencers have been identified to join the high performance centre to train for the 2016 Olympics in South America.
These results and successes are quite good if one takes into consideration that we have limited equipment and transportation. Our U.S. competitors fly from city to city, unlike us; we have to travel close to 20 hours for one competition.
It is indeed a learning experience that will be with me for the rest of my life. It is true - nothing is impossible.
Estefany B., Christel House Graduate, Christel House Mexico
This year has been a very special year, as I’ve had many opportunities in the tourism field that have helped me grow and learn. One of those is the internship at Sheraton Hacienda del Mar in Cabo San Lucas, México this past summer. This great experience was very important for me and my future, the future that I’m working on.
Currently I am studying Planning and Tourism Management at the Tourism University in Mexico City. The opportunities I had during my internship were more about hospitality and timeshare, but it gave me a general overview of my career. Thanks to this opportunity, I feel like I am a step ahead compared to my peers. I know that everyone will have the chance to experience what I did this past summer, but at the moment, I know that I have a better understanding of the industry as a whole. I had the opportunity to meet people that work in the industry and know their jobs very well and they can possibly help me gain employment in the future.
I’m very thankful to every person who has made this possible for me, without them this would not have happened.
Shayna P., Student, Christel House DORS
When I talk about the Christel House Drop-Out Recovery School, or DORS, I speak with a strong sense of pride.
My name is Shayna, and I am 19 years old. I dropped out of high school in my junior year. Since then, I have tried many other forms of education. I have tried a daytime alternative education program, a nighttime credit recovery program, general education diploma preparation classes, and an at home online school. It never took me long to realize that these specific programs would not work for me.
Then why is this program so different? Why am I so proud to be a DORS student? There are so many reasons. The biggest reason for me is because at Christel House I don’t feel like a dropout. I don’t feel like I am just picking up where I left off. I am still in high school, but I'm also moving forward; working toward my life goals. The DORS program offers college classes as well as high school classes. For that reason I am moving forward with my education. Before the DORS program, college had never been an option for me. Now it’s more than an option. After attending the DORS program for only seven weeks, college is within my grasp.
The DORS program has given me much more than the opportunity to further my education. It has also helped me become employed and regain my self confidence. It has put me in contact with some wonderful people whom I feel I could go to for anything. Any time I have a question, or if I need general advice, there is always someone at DORS that is more than happy to help me in any way they can. For example, my research specialist is not just a research specialist, she is a mentor. I can go to her for anything. She has multiple degrees and is a very educated woman. Being around people like my mentor makes me realize that I can do anything and that becoming educated is possible, even for someone like me.
Deibis L., Christel House Graduate, Christel House Venezuela
My name is Deibis. I am 22 years old and I graduated from Christel House Venezuela (CHV) in 2007.
My life as a student at CHV was very good, since they gave me the tools to continue forward and never surrender to the obstacles. Looking back to those school years I realize that I became an expert in problem solving, as my teachers provided me with the necessary values and strategies to be a successful citizen. They taught me that money is important in life, but integrity, independence, respect and responsibility are key values to succeed as a professional.
After I graduated, I decided to study IT, but the truth is that I changed my mind along the way and decided to change careers and study Social Communication (a career that groups journalists, media and network professionals as well as movie and commercial makers). Since childhood I have always been attracted to TV, movies, media and arts. Dancing is also an important part of my life.
My life as a student at the Santa Rosa Catholic University has been incredible. The best career that can exist in this world is Social Communication. It gives you many values both professionally and personally, all related to personal improvement.
Last month, I received my career degree. The path was difficult, but not impossible.
Parallel to my career, I also have a passion for giving dance classes. The school has given me the opportunity to share my knowledge with all the students from the school in a dance club during after school hours. Dance for me is everything; it is the language that allows me to express my emotions. As I always say, “Dance is the pure expression of the soul.” In this way I can share what I most love in the world with other kids that are like I used to be 10 years ago, in the place that taught me to be like I am right now.
I am simply grateful to Christel House Venezuela for always giving me a helping hand, both in the good times and also the bad ones. I can say with no doubt that I am what I am today, thanks to Christel House Venezuela.