Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blog Swap: Nicaragua!

And for our next blog we have and update from our oldest MPI site, here is Samantha with a day in the life of a Nicaragua Program Director:

Hi! My name is Samantha and I’m a member of MPI’s Nicaragua team. This week, MPI Nicaragua is excited to share a bit more about what we do here at Manna’s oldest site. Rather than rattle off a list of programs, we thought it might be fun to share a Thursday in the life. Below is a typical, if slightly busy, Thursday in my life. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

7:30 a.m.: Wake up, sneak out of my room so as not to wake up my roommate Carrie, and head to the kitchen. There I find Elena, our amazing cook, finishing up a batch of French toast. We have a cook Monday through Thursday to allow us to focus on programs during our four busy days of the week.

9:00 a.m.: Pile into the micro with all nine fellow PDs to head to La Chureca (Managua's trash dump). The drive to Chureca takes about 20 minutes, and provides an interesting cross-section of life in Managua. At one main intersection, two familiar men propel themselves onto the hood of the micro and begin cleaning the windshield. We keep a stash of cookies in the glove compartment for such occasions, and these guys always remember us, making sure to shake everyone’s hand through the windows before the light turns green.

9:45 a.m.: We arrive at the clinic and community center in La Chureca after a brief but incredibly sweaty walk. On Tuesdays, I help Jesse teach our brand-new kids’ English class in Chureca’s Esperanza School. Thursdays, however, I still work with Jenny and Karen, my older, more advanced students. Unfortunately, Karen was unable to come this morning due to a university soccer game, and Jenny is nowhere to be found. On the walk to Esperanza we run into Milton, one of our students. His regular teacher, Matt, is busy, so I offer to work with Milton. Milton is 17 years old and recently moved out of Chureca, but returns to the dump to hang out with friends because he feels that people outside are too fresa (pretentious). Milton knows everyone in Chureca, and offers to help me find Jenny’s house to check in and schedule our next class.

10:10 a.m.: Milton and I find Jenny’s house, and, in lieu of ringing a non-existent doorbell, we peer over the fence (constructed with black trash bags). We see Jenny’s head peeping out of a structure on the other side, and realize that she’s in the shower. While rinsing shampoo out of her hair, she tells us with a smile that she’ll be ready to meet next Tuesday.

11:00 a.m.: I conclude a short but productive lesson on the past simple tense with Milton. After finishing our discussion on Lil Wayne vs. Eminem and giving him a homework assignment, I meet up with the other PDs (who have been walking around talking to moms in our Child Sponsorship Program) and we make our way back to the micro.

12:30 p.m.: Arrive at El Farito, the community center where we work in the local community of Cedro Galan. Thirty kids promptly spill through the gates and line up to wash their hands before sitting down to collectively scream/sing their prayers and eat (“GRACIASSSSS SEÑOOOOOOOR POOOOR TU AMOOOOOR!!!”). I have a great talk with Armando and Gerald as they inhale their arroz con pollo.

1:15 p.m.: To incentivize and reward kids for helping with Comedor cleanup, every two weeks we put on a venta in which helpers who have earned “dolares” can purchase items ranging from silly bands to crayons or—for the big spenders—a Frisbee. The venta runs smoothly this afternoon, without any tears or drama!

1:30 p.m.: Today, I stick around for Fiona and Christin’s Kids English class. I sit at the back table with Agdiel, a 16-year-old with a severe mental disability. Agdiel is great today, super quiet and well behaved. We draw squiggles and participate when Fiona shouts call-and-response questions (“IS HE ON THE BUS?!” “YES HE IS!”)

2:30 p.m.: On the way back to the house, I pass by Jorge, one of the students in our Kids English class at Salero. Even though he’s with his cool friends, Jorge still waves to me! Yes!

3:15 p.m: Get home and help Carrie and Anna to prep for the women’s exercise pool party. Today all of the regular attendees of women’s exercise are coming to the house for a pool workout!

4:15 p.m.: After taking some amazing photos of everyone bouncing around the pool, Maggie and I watch Peter Pan and play Frisbee with Henry, Junior, and Jose, three boys who have tagged along with their moms.

5:30 p.m.: Time for Adult Beginner’s English! Fiona reviews object pronouns, and we do a worksheet in class to practice. We have a big class today, and everyone is a little more chatty than normal, but also excited to participate. We’ve recently decided to incorporate more listening activities, so we end class by asking students to fill in the missing lyrics of a Taylor Swift song. Unfortunately Love Story is way to difficult for our class, but everyone remains enthusiastic, especially after seeing Fiona and I sing along.

6:45 p.m.: Get home, eat a quick dinner, and get ready for Anna and Maggie’s Advanced English class. I don’t teach advanced, but enjoy going, as it tends to be very social and conversation-based. A lot of our close friends in the community go, and it’s invariably a good time.

8:30 p.m.: Get home from advanced, do some dishes with Fiona, and relax. Friday’s a light day—our only programs are computer class and girls’ soccer—so there’s nothing to prepare for!

If you'd like to keep up with Samantha and MPI Nicaragua's work, you can follow their blog. Thanks for reading!