Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Despedida #1

It's becoming quite apparent that we don't have very much time left in Ecuador... things that we scheduled 3 months ago (thinking June would never get here) have come and gone. Funny how that happens. Our most recent reminder of our impending departure was the Despedida we hosted in Parque Moya last Saturday.

A Despedida (literally "a farewell") is a goodbye party, and it is customary in Ecuador to do something special before people leave. We decided to have 2 Despedidas this year - 1 for our friends who are less library-goers and the other for the Rumiloma/library community. This Despedida was for our less library-going friends, homestay families, soccer teammates, etc. We all gathered in the park for a Saturday afternoon of good conversation, basketball games, eating, and listening to the painful USA-Ghana soccer game via radio.

Here are some pictures of the party:

Pick-up basketball game

My strategy for beating the opponents

Relaxing and eating in Parque Moya

Krysta with Dr. Escobar and his son

Mike, Emilia and Alison

Shawn and me listening to the pathetic USA vs. Ghana soccer game via radio

Haley and Krysta with some Women's Exercise students and their families

Haley and Susana


Friday, June 25, 2010

Lists and Art Pics

(This week's Guest Blog comes from Miss Sonia Patel, who also happens to be next up for the PD Interviews. These days Sonia can be tracked to virtually any location in the house due to her computer's broken fan, which makes it sound like it will initiate liftoff about every 30 seconds. She's been involved in both Art Classes and the Preventive Health Center since the beginning, and has played a huge role in the success of both programs. Sonia's also a total baller because she'll be attending med school at Georgetown next year. Because class starts on August 2nd, Sonia's leaving early, and this is her last Guest Blog... Enjoy!)

"Over the past 11 months, certain events have become especially memorable for me. While some have been surprisingly horrific at the time of their occurrences, they now, with the more traditionally happy events, land themselves on my list of “things that I will most truly and dearly miss about Ecuador.” Since this is my last guest blog, I only find it appropriate to share that list with you. Enjoy!

1. Eating dessert once a week…directly from the pan

2. Waking up with my body covered in bug bites

3. Teaching children’s art to precious 8 year olds (and the occasional 2 year old) who haven’t quite learned how to follow directions.

4. Building casitas for gas tanks

5. Coming together for dinner and discussing the day’s embarrassing moments

6. Playing catch phrase for 4 hours

7. Opening the Preventative Health Center

8. Not communicating with a person who has stepped in poop for 24 hours

9. Climbing the Andes Mountains

10. Joseph Oña

11. Sitting next to a woman as she breast feeds her child who will occasionally take breaks to converse with his mother

12. Finding a silver fish in my underwear

13. Learning how to “nutritionize” myself through Aliméntate Ecuador’s weekly charla in our Centro

14. Making 120 animal balloons for the children in our community

15. Having one of my socks clog the washer drain

16. “el gas, el gas”…”el gas el gas”…”el gas el gas”

17. Losing the internet every other minute, my screaming computer, and cuddling with a board

18. Watching Wendy learn how to read

19. The world’s most beautiful sunsets

20. Pan de Yuca, Sanduche el Rey, homemade popcorn for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

21. Boiling eggs for so long that all the water evaporates

22. Monday Morning Meetings

23. Advertising with a perefeneo

24. Observing an appendix being removed...fainting in the Sangolquí Hospital

25. Kuka’s psuedopregnancy

26. Shawn, Sarah, Jackie, Mike, Krysta, Chet, Haley, Erik, and Bibi

Nostalgically yours,

Here are some pictures of the masterpieces that the kids have created in Sonia and Chet's Art Class... and, yes, I know some of them are upside-down... I tried uploading them about 10 times and I couldn't fix it...

Picasso faces

Frida Kahlo self-portraits

Norman Rockwell "Freedom from Fear"

Vincent Van Gogh "Starry Night"

Monet "Water Lilies"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Session II: More Introductions!

Onto the second half of session two!

So far, four of the volunteers have been volunteering at Fundacion Añamisi twice a week, weeding and planting in the garden, and sometimes saving hens from decapitation by Christian's dogs...

Mae and Laura help protect the Gallina while Karla, Kendra and Jen keep Tommy away

Last week, Kendra Peters and her green thumb unearthed this giant turnip (somehow it only took a month and a half to grow). Kendra graduated from Georgetown University this past spring and will be starting work at a consulting firm in San Francisco in the fall. When she's not in the garden, she helps survey for microfinance, teaches San Juan English, Adult English B and Women's Exercise

Kendra and her prized turnip!

Karla Luna, born and raised in Texas, has been a wonderful help for finishing up our Aliñambi Nutrition Program; her fluency in Spanish helps entertain the kids (although when she accidentally called a beet 'rumilacha' instead of 'remolacha' they never let her hear the end of it). She just graduated from UT with a degree in nutrition and spent a week in Nicaragua this past spring. She's helping to plan a charla for our preventative health program here in a few weeks as well as teaching Adult English and Women's Exercise.

Karla poses atop the Panecillo

Mae Nester comes from the great University of Delaware and the even greater undergraduate club, Students for the Environment! Mae just finished her freshman year studying biology and advocating for environmental issues on campus. We share a mutual love of compost, the first state, and bright clothing (specifically scarves). When we're not reminiscing about S4E, Mae works hard teaching literacy class, Children's English, and explaining how to pronounce her name to kids in the library ('como MAYO').

Mae and I squinting atop Quilotoa this past weekend

We are so excited to have Isabel Delgado, who lived in Cuenca for the first 14 years of her life, here with us this session! Isabel just finished school in Minnesota. On top of helping us with Spanish, providing cultural insight, and cooking delicious soups for us, she teaches Adult English A and B, Natural Science class and Art class. Last week, along with Karla, Mike and myself, she talked at length about deforestation in Ecuador during our monthly radio charla. I can't properly express how excited they were to have native speakers on the show after months of our Spanglish!

Isabel (left) broadcasting at Super K with Mike and Karla

Kendra, Mae, and I etch our names into a plant in the Plaza (a trick that Isabel taught us)

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Session II - Volunteer Introductions!

Summer Session II is almost half finished! The volunteers have spent the last two weeks integrating themselves into our programs, and teaching some of their own. I'd say this calls for some introductions...

Bobo (striped green sweater and blue hat) hanging out with fellow summer vols during their weekend trip to Quilotoa

Elizabeth Bobo hails from Arkansas and just finished her freshman year at Tulane, majoring in Latin American Studies and Spanish. Bobo, as she has come to be known, is involved in a ton of programs including: Women's Exercise, Adult English, Kid's English, Art, and Cooking class. Quite the busy woman!

Flori (far left) after a morning volunteering with a partner organization, Remanzo

Flori Garcia joins us from Crown Point, Indiana. Flori just completed her freshman year at Pomona College in California, where she played soccer with Claire (an 8-week volunteer). She is spending most of her time teaching Kid's English both at our Centro and in San Juan, helping out with Women's Exercise and dominating Microfinance with Chet and Erik.

Elizabeth riding a horse back up the very steep Quilotoa trail

Elizabeth Murray is from John's Creek, Georgia. She is going to be a senior at the University of South Carolina majoring in Management and Economics. Elizabeth is involved in the Teen Center, Microfinance, Agriculture and Adult English.

Samah (far right) stops for a shot with the group in front of the laguna

Samah Rizvi graduated from the University of Colorado and dove straight into Americorps, where she spent the last year living and working outside of Chicago. Samah is working with Kid's English in San Juan, Adult English at the Centro, as well as in the brand new Preventive Health Center.


PS. Thanks to Claire for donating the pictures!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Preguntas para Sonia

Next week I get to interview Sonia Patel! Although I'm not sure we can get her to sing "Milkshake" on the internet, I'm certain that you readers can come up with some (almost as) entertaining questions. And some thought-provoking ones too!

Bibi messing with Sonia on a retreat

Topics can include anything from:
  • "what is your favorite color?" (a question she posed to all of the summer volunteers last weekend in Quilotoa)
  • what she would do if any form of feces touched her
  • what it's like to be a vegetarian in Ecuador
  • how many episodes of Lost she's watched in the past week
  • her inspirations for Art Class
  • participating in the Alimentate nutrition classes
  • all of the awesome things she's going to do in med school in DC next year
Please post question as a comment to this entry, or e-mail me (jmw8387@gmail.com) by next MONDAY June 28th!

thanks and happy summer!
- Jackie

Friday, June 18, 2010

the library gets a makeover

A number of new library initiatives have been planned and executed by our summer volunteers. Although everyone spends multiple days each week playing with the kids and running our space, a group of volunteers dedicated to enhancing the day-to-day goings on in the library has been working very hard through the past month.

1. The mural started by our Tulane spring break group was finally finished; volunteers and PDs whipped out their paint brushes to fill in each and every bubble.

Finished Mural!

2. We spruced up the adult corner by painting the pillar that used to exude awkward beige-ness in between our subject sections. Now, thanks to Jenni and the help of Claire, it brightens up and invites readers over!

Jenni and Claire work on painting a beautiful outdoor scene

3. After the incident where all of the kids decided that gluing their coloring pages to the wall was a good idea, we decided to scrap off all of the paint and redo it. We had some left over chalkboard paint from our A-frame and decided to paint a chalkboard in the game corner for the kids to play in. They certainly wasted no time showing off their drawing skills from art class...

Jen, Ja, Claire, and Stef pose in front of the completed chalkboard

Kenny, Kerly, and Isias test out the fresh new board

4. After ordering and leveling all of our children and teen books over spring break, we researched and planned a reading club that began a couple of weeks ago. Krysta dug back into the depths of her childhood to remember a fun 'build and ice cream' based reading competition. Each kid takes home a book along with three questions to answer about it to ensure that they've read it; upon return, they receive one piece of an ice cream sundae. Once they've collected 8 pieces (aka read 8 books) they receive an ice cream of their choice from one of the local tiendas. So far, we have about 15 participants, and 4 kids who've received one ice cream and are working on their second set of 8 (more challenging) books!

"Do you like ice cream? Join our reading club!"

Wendy poses by her nearly completed sundae; she's now on her second!

4. Summer volunteers Jen, Claire and Mae offer 3 half-hour long literacy classes on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays in the library. The class is split into two groups; one that is working on learning to read by practicing how to pronounce vowels, consonants, and how to construct words. The other, older group, works on increasing their reading levels and their ability to read faster.

Mae plays bingo with Selena and Issac

Tomorrow morning we're off to Quilotoa for our first session two weekend trip. We'll kick off next week introducing you to the new 8 quirky, energetic, and extremely hard working girls in our house!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Haley's Interview!

After lots of iMovie lessons, Haley's interview is finished! I would like to thank everyone who submitted questions; apologies to Mr. Booe for not being able to include our rendition of the "Shimmy Waltz" - the camera only captured our lower/less attractive halves. Also thank you so much to Haley for being an incredible sport; we shot the video in the new Preventative Health Center room through a hail storm and a couple of power outages. Overall, I think it turned out great!


Look forward to Erik's interview for next week!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Inglés para Niños

Hello long-lost blogging world! Please excuse my extended absence due to coordinating the first session of summer volunteers... Jackie has been a blogging champ and has been picking up my (big time) slack. So, a big thanks to Jack.

This week we're trying to catch everyone up on what's been going on in programs - more specifically what has been going on in programs in which the first session of summer volunteers were most involved. Today's program is... drum roll... Children's English!

Since Day 1, Children's English has been one of our most popular programs. Last fall, we split the original class into two, in order to accommodate the number of kids who wanted to be involved. Most recently (well... more like in April), we started up a 12-week course for kids at the Centro. Shawn, Jackie and I chose to extend the class from 6 weeks to 12, so that we could have more time to teach and spend less time starting fresh with new faces. Thirty kids showed up on the first day, and we soon realized we had to split the class into THREE sections! Amy, a former neighbor of Bibi and a current volunteer at a local school, offered to teach our third section. So. Currently we're looking at Jackie and Shawn co-teaching the Advanced students, Amy is with the Intermediate kids, and I am still teaching the Beginners. Needless to say, Mondays and Wednesdays are quite busy at the Centro.

Claire and Sonia helped out Shawn, Jackie and I during their 4 weeks here. It was immensely helpful (especially with my rowdy 6 and 7-year olds...) to have an extra teacher in the room keeping kids quiet, helping during partner activities, and most of all, acting out hysterical scenarios. (Trust me, the scenarios in our textbooks are super funny.)

For each of the past three summers, we've reached out to the community of San Juan - located between our house and the Centro - to teach another English review class while we have twice as many volunteers. This class is almost entirely run by the summer volunteers, which is a great opportunity to see what it takes to be in charge of a class from start to finish. First session we had a great group of volunteers teaching the San Juan kids. Sonia, Steph, Lisa, Drew, and Jen trekked over to San Juan every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 2-5pm to teach a rowdy bunch of 10 and 11-year olds in San Juan's Casa Barrial. I got to tag along with them on Tuesdays and Thursdays (thanks to Shawn for taking the Friday shift!), and watch them progress in their teaching methods and their Spanish. By the end of the four weeks, the kids had not only reviewed and retained a substantial amount of English, but had also formed bonds with the volunteers.

The summer volunteers who helped out with Children's English, both at the Centro and in San Juan, were phenomenally helpful... the continuing 8-weekers and Session 2 summer volunteers have some big shoes to fill!

Here are some pictures of the San Juan class (thanks to Sonia for donating them!):

Steph teaches the kids "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"

Some of the kids hanging out during Recreo

The class with Sonia on her last day

The whole class!

Here's to returning to the blog world,

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Green Acres

First summer session has departed and second arrived on Friday night. We'll be sure to introduce you to the eight new females who will be helping and taking over programs throughout the next month. But for the next few days, we'd like to take the time to applaud the extremely hard work that last month's group did; specifically for agriculture, the library, and in our classes.

I was very fortunate to have three awesome volunteers helping me out with agriculture, a program that I was flying solo on for most of the year. Jenni, Trevor, and Jen spent two hours every Friday at Fundacion Añamisi, helping in the organic garden; tasks included everything from uprooting weeds, mixing and preparing soil, and harvesting carrots to be sold and delivered to families in Quito.

Jen, Trevor, Jenni and Laura in the huerto

They also were a tremendous help in planning, advertising, and executing our charla for the month: sustainable agriculture methods and practices. The idea was to appeal to families who focus solely on growing corn (choclo) and/or potatoes to encourage crop diversity; this increases the soil's ability to retain water and decreases the need for pesticides, which in turn increases soil fertility. Laura, from Fundacion Añamisi started off by explaining why the importance of organic farming (less chemicals, less pollution, healthier crops) followed by an in-depth discussion of how to use the lunar calendar for planting schedules to achieve the best yields; she also taught best practices for using plants like aji intermittently to discourage pests and keeping small weeds to help retain water in the soil, especially when rain is not abundant. Our volunteers learned a ton about agriculture from Laura and presented why and how to compost on their own.

As you can see from the picture below, our charla had rather poor attendance; only one man from San Francisco showed up despite valiant advertising efforts. Unfortunately, that's kind of how it goes for agriculture charlas; we were thrilled to connect this man and his family to Fundacion Añamisi and hope that a relationship develops. In the future, we plan to focus our energy on supporting organizations, rather than giving intermittent charlas to individuals. For example, Añamisi has opened their garden up on Fridays to volunteers; this is a win-win situation as they receive much needed help for their land and those who come can learn best practices for their own projects.

Laura presenting the benefits of organic agriculture

A huge, huge thanks to my volunteers! I can only hope that this session's volunteers are as eager and helpful as you all have been.

organically yours,

Friday, June 11, 2010

Questions for Erik!

Next up for an interview is Erik Swanson. Erik, our co-summer coordinator is currently running around Quito picking up our second round of volunteers. He's best known in the house for his rap music, tasteful workout clothes, and lighthearted sense of humor.

A nod to the start of the world cup; sucks to Uruguay!

We'll be conducting his interview this TUESDAY, so please submit any and all questions by Tuesday morning. Topics can range from his deep love of sausage gravy, why he likes watching Gladiator on mute, or what his rugby uniform smells like on Sunday afternoon. Or you know, work-related questions....


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chet's Interview!

Good news: Chet's interview is done! Although his words speak for themselves, we would like to point out that, as of this morning, Chet has a brand new haircut and is clean-shaven. (Insert a resounding 'booooooo'.) Enjoy his wise words about facial hair, development, unicorns, and of course, economics.

Peace, love and iMovie,

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Who Doesn't like Public Mineral Baths?

This week's guest blog comes from Shawn Fagan... you probably best know her for her blogs about baseball and DVDs (don't worry, she goes back to the DVDs at the end of this one). But we in the Manna house associate her with the New York Times daily crossword puzzle and as of late, someone who whips out Phase 10 to play with the volunteers at any given moment. Please enjoy as she re-caps the first trip of the summer, Shawn-style:

"Good afternoon, Ecuador blog enthusiasts. As mentioned in previous posts, the house has been pretty crowded for the past few weeks, and will remain that way for five more weeks, upon which the new set of 2010-2011 Program Directors arrive to this beautiful country. In other words, there will be no more alone time for the current PDs. Not to worry, the new bunch is amazing, and took their first excursion this past weekend to Baños, a touristy city located just under the shadow of a very active Volcán Tungarahua. Many PDs joined the group on their trip, and had a blast hanging out with the newbies. (An interesting side-note: my mom informed me that she actually met one of her best friends in Baños, sitting in the main plaza, in the 1970’s when she was traveling around South America. It was a small enough town back then that two
Gringas could actually stand out in a crowd of Ecuadorians and bond over their foreignness).

Baños is jam-packed with activities, and a two-day trip was barely enough to sate our adventurous appetites. We participated in canyoning (rappelling down waterfalls, basically), bike riding, go-carting, four-wheeling, mineral baths, massages, party-busing, discoteca dancing, sun-burning, sleeping in, and bonding. It was a legendary (for lack of a better word and yet another “How I Met Your Mother” reference) weekend, and here are some pictures to keep you entertained and amused.

Shawn all geared up for canyoning

Shawn and Sarah get serious next to their go-kart

On a personal note, this IS the guest blog of one Shawn Fagan, and therefore I would like to take the time to address those readers who have been following my blog posts and are deeply concerned with the progress of the recreation of my Brooklyn movie collection in bootleg Ecuadorian DVDs. It has not been an easy task. Most video stores here compete to be the first with the most brand-spanking-new movies possible, and therefore having a classic collection is less than a priority. Mike and I have so relentlessly bothered our favorite DVD lady that today I finally encountered and purchased the first season of “Mad Men," a series virtually unknown in this country. Kevin Smith will have to wait for his time.

Love, as well as a love for cevichochos,