Mentorship made possible by connectivity

Viasat employees on a mission to inspire children through online mentorship

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Editor’s note: Village Book Builders changed its name to It Takes a Village after this article was originally published

Viasat employees are using their bandwidth, literally and metaphorically, to connect with students in rural Mexico and Uganda.

In rural communities across the globe, having internet access can unlock new opportunities. Whether it’s access to online education, communicating with people in far-off places, or googling the answer to a question, connectivity breeds opportunity.

Village Book Builders is a non-profit organization that shares that belief and works to create global communities of learners through access to a variety of learning methods, including a monthly speaker series, online mentoring, and digital resources.

Viasat donates laptops and internet service to power Village Book Builders sites in rural Mexico and Uganda. Currently, 11 Viasat employees are also volunteering with the program to mentor students in those locations. To further Viasat’s vision of powering connections that matter, skills-based volunteering provides support for education-focused community organizations around the world.

One of those Viasat employees is Sharon Moreno, a financial analyst working remotely in Texas. Moreno was matched with 11-year-old Jacqueline who lives in Cuchapa, a city in Veracruz, Mexico.

“Volunteering and giving back to my community is a key part of my life,” Moreno said. “Now Viasat provides me the opportunity to give back globally by utilizing my professional and personal experience to mentor Jacqueline. My ultimate goal is to make a better world for all children.”

During their sessions, Moreno teaches Jacqueline about topics that interest her – particularly art and science. In a session about oil paintings, Jacqueline learned about the Mona Lisa which she said represents “strong women.”

A future astronaut

Before the new year, Moreno asked Jacqueline what she is hoping for in 2023.

“First, I want my family to be healthy,” she said. “I would also like to learn more about becoming an astronaut.”

Because of Jacqueline’s interest in science, Moreno created a lesson for her about José Hernandez, an astronaut from Mexico. Jacqueline resonated with his story of perseverance and asked to learn more about Hernandez. After hearing that he knew multiple languages, she expressed interest in learning English.

Moreno taught Jacqueline how to say “thank you” along with other common phrases and said she looks forward to continuing those lessons. Although Moreno speaks Spanish, she said Jacqueline is helping her become more fluent as well.

At the end of their session, Jacqueline thanked Moreno for mentoring her, and asked one more question: “When did Jose Hernandez go into space? I want to learn all about space and becoming an astronaut.”

Equitable access to internet connectivity has the capacity to transform lives and communities. For Jacqueline, connectivity enabled her weekly sessions with Moreno, and may have even inspired a future astronaut.

Aly is Viasat’s internal communications manager.