Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meet _________. Oh, wait. He doesn’t have a name yet!

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been interviewing superheroes who were hoping to represent our America Learns Network Superstars on this site and in the community.

As you can imagine, given how amazing our Network members are, we had quite a number of superheroes try out for the spot.  Heck, even Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman showed up!

America Learns Network Superstar Mascot. What's his name?After sixteen grueling rounds of interviews, the superhero you see to the right won hands down.  As you can see, he was born for the job…light-bulb body and all.  (He really won us over with his smile and by sticking the America Learns light bulb to the inside of his cape.)

We took this snapshot of him after we told him that he won. He was pretty lit up by the news.

There’s one MAJOR DOWNSIDE to this guy. He’s nameless :-(. 

(The reason?  It’s some crazy superhero drama that we just don’t need to get into.)

We need your help naming our superhero!  Is he a Lance?  Is he a Superstar Sam?  Captain Learns?  What do you think?

Please share your ideas by entering a comment to this post below.  We and our superhero really appreciate you giving him an identity.  It’ll do wonders for his self-image.

Monday, January 12, 2009

January 2009: Crystal Carmona, Our “So Long” Superstar

Key Terms


A rolled sandwich found in Mexican cuisine.

Girls For A Change (
A phenomenal organization empowering thousands of teen girls to create and lead social change.  GFC has used the America Learns Network since August 2008.

Burrito Hugging:
The January 2009 America Learns Global Strategy of the Month, created by an outstanding Girls For A Change team member.

(PS: We just launched this site on January 12th.  Over the next two weeks, we’ll be posting every strategy we highlighted last year right here.  To receive  notifications of the strategies we post, either subscribe to our feed at the  right hand side of this page or sign up for our free newsletter.)



Crystal Carmona is a high school student in San Jose, CA.  She has been involved with GFC for three years, not only as a program participant, but also as a Girls Steering Committee member and as a GFC spokesperson on TV.

Several years ago, she and some GFC peers developed the burrito hugging activity as a way to say goodbye to a student who was leaving the school.  Crystal told us that, "We were thinking we should just come up with something, and I said, ‘Oh, a hug!’  After a while, my teammates were like, ‘How about a hug that actually means something?’  We were just playing around and then we became all wound up.”

It was a unique way to say good-bye to others when her peers rejected a traditional group hug.

Last month, a fellow GFC team member and one of her team's coaches left the group.  Emotions were running high.  Crystal recommended that the group burrito hug.  As you'll read below, when the strategy is done in conjunction with GFC's "Queen of the Hill" activity, burrito hugging can become a part of a perfect closure process when saying goodbye to group members. 

Check it out below, and please leave your comments at the bottom of the strategy for Crystal.

The Strategy


Created by: Crystal Carmona, Girls For A Change team member
Contributed by: Annie Dong & Angela Krumm, Girls For A Change coaches
Topics: - Saying Goodbye
- Transitioning Group/Team Leaders
- Your Relationship with your Students/Mentees
Grade Levels: Fifth - Adult
Arrangements: Small Group; Large Group

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: One of our team's members, Crystal, introduced the "Burrito Hug" when we were discussing ways to say good-bye to one of our coaches and one team member who would not be returning for the Spring semester.  Some heavy emotions were running through the team.

Crystal informed us that she and some peers developed the activity in grade school. She found it to be a unique ways to say good-bye to others when her peers rejected a traditional "group hug."

Why Burrito Hugging is Great:
As a coach, I am constantly looking for unique ways for girls to express themselves beyond using words (e.g., dance, drawing). Our society tends to struggle with saying good-bye and gaining closure, thus non-verbal expressions model an alternative method of showing caring for others. The burrito hug is a lighthearted way to allow the honoree to feel a connection with other team members.

Step 1: Everyone hold hands in a line. (Optional: Have the person who the team wants to focus on be at one of the ends.)

Allow any girls who want to opt out to do so.

Step 2: BurritoHug_forStep2 Everyone wraps around the person at the end, keeping hands connected, in a burrito-like fashion.
Step 3: BurritoHug_forStep3 There should be a couple layers to the "burrito" now, with everyone's hands still linked!
Step 4: BurritoHug_forStep4 Squeeze together for a tight hug!!
Additional Idea from Angela Krumm, GFC Coach: BurritoHug_forStep5 In our team meeting, we proceeded the "Burrito Hug" by doing a common Girls For A Change activity called "Queen of the Hill", in which the honoree stands in the middle of a circle of the remaining team members and each person shares things they appreciate about the individual in the middle. "Queen of the Hill" and the "Burrito Hug" proved to be a great combination.


Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Crystal by clicking the grey “Comments” link below or by clicking here.