Friday, January 7, 2011

2010 ends in adventure; 2011 begins with change

… and we’re back!

Yesterday saw the beginning of 2011 for MPI, complete with a morning meeting to debrief each other on our holidays as well as to prepare for the opening days of our new quarter. 

At the start of break, five of us flew to Peru to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, a trip Zoë (thank you!!) began planning in August.  Zoë, Becky, Jack, Ashley and I, joined by Zoë’s brother Zach and Hudson from MPI Guatemala, spent what we agreed were some of the most physically challenging days of our lives hiking 45 kilometers up and down 2000 meters through the Peruvian Andes to arrive at Machu Picchu. 
The MPI Machu Picchu team: Jack, Zoë, Ashley, Becky, me, and Hudson from Guatemala!
After Peru, everyone (including Bibi) traveled home to the States.  Except me.  Although I was sad to miss out on the Taco Bell and Chipotle everyone got to partake in over break, it was cool to spend the holidays here in Ecuador.  My family came and spent Christmas with me and saw our house in Sangolquí and our centro in Rumiloma.  We also spent several days in the jungle, which was fantastic.  After coming back to Quito, they left for the airport with somewhat unfortunate timing around 8pm on New Year’s Eve, but not too soon to see a bit of the Año Viejo in Ecuador.  Avenida Amazonas in la Mariscal was as early as the morning of New Year’s Eve blocked off from traffic and lined with monigotes, or “años viejos”: effigies of people in the Ecuadorian public eye, often political.  At midnight, the creators of the años viejos burn their monigotes, symbolizing the death of all that was undesirable about the year that’s ending and the beginning of a new year, one that will hopefully bring good to replace the bad that has now left.  It was quite a sight.
Two Años Viejos in La Mariscal on New Year's Eve
To return to the present day and MPI Ecuador’s work initiating 2011, the major change we are undertaking in the new year is one in our schedule.  In an effort to respond to requests within our community in the past, we are shifting our work week from a traditional Monday-Friday to Tuesday-Saturday.  People frequently ask us if our library is open on Saturdays or if we offer English classes Saturdays rather than during the week, and we have always had to say no.  But now we begin a grand experiment in which we can say YES to such questions!

Our first Thursday, Friday and Saturday back to work, we are doing a great deal of promoting in Rumiloma and its surrounding communities of San Francisco, Tena, Chaupitena, Santa Isabela, and Fajardo to advertise the new schedule for the library and our classes.  The revised weekly schedule will look like this:

Library hours: Tuesday-Friday 2:30-7pm; Saturday 9am-1pm
Teen Center hours: Tuesday-Friday 4-7pm; Saturday 10am-1pm
Adult English: Wednesday 6-7pm; Saturday 9am-12pm
Children’s English: Tuesday/Thursday 4-5pm
Children’s Art: Friday 4-5pm
Women’s Exercise: Tuesday/Thursday 6-7pm; Wednesday 8-9am; Friday/Saturday 9-10am
Cooking: Saturday 10:30am-12pm
Guitar lessons (individual): Tuesday 2:30-5pm

We start taking inscriptions for this quarter’s classes Tuesday.  We hope that the inclusion of Saturdays in our schedule will allow us to reach an entirely new segment of the community that has been unable to participate in Manna activities before now.  Here’s hoping for positive change in the new year!

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