Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Children's Art

Here is the second program post on our Children's Art program by Joey Teevens:

            Ahoy there readers!  I hope you all find yourselves well.  Polly and I are posting here to update you on our first children’s art class, which took place this past Friday afternoon.  The children’s art program takes place once a week throughout our semester and consists of a general theme designed to allow the kids to learn more about different countries and cultures, as well as to explore their own creative abilities.  Our theme for this semester, appropriately enough, is South America.  Every week we will be introducing our students to a different South American country by making a presentation about its people and culture, culminating with a review of a specific art form or craft that we will attempt to replicate in the classroom. 
            Polly and I chose to begin the semester with Brazil.  We found a cool little Brazilian maraca craft for kids online and moved forward with the energy and rhythm worthy of a professional samba instructor.  We complemented our supplies of paint, popsicle sticks, glue, strings, and beads by purchasing paper plates, lentils, and kernels of corn.  Having thus acquired such an astonishing artistic arsenal, we commenced a creative carnaval with our children who were craving colorful creations.  With Brazilian music setting the mood in the background, the kids eagerly started to paint their paper plates.  Utilizing some construction paper, Polly had also managed to make small Brazilian flags and soccer balls (I did my best to make little pink and orange construction paper carnaval masks) and the kids glued them on to their plates once they were done painting.  To finish off the maracas, we gave each kid a handful of kernels and lentils to place between their paper plates, glued everything together, added strings (with beads on the ends of course), and voila!  Brazilian maracas!  I hope you enjoy these pictures of our little Picassos as much as we enjoyed getting in touch with our own inner-artists with them!  Until next time, cuídense and remember, a little bit of dried glue and paint never hurt anyone!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Small Business' New Microfinance Program

The Small Business Development Program is launching an ambitious small loans initiative beginning in October. In just under two months, we have revamped SBD from a small financial consulting program into a micro loan program. Teaming up with the local Patranato, or the local government social service, we have found a number of potential clients involved in agribusiness. Along with the Patranato and a local financial cooperative as our partner, we will be giving business classes throughout the month of October. At the end of the month, the clients will submit business plans laying out how they would utilize and then repay their loan. From this group, we will select the four most promising candidates to give loans of $400. Through this initiative, we are able to offer interest rates that are significantly lower than national banks and local financial cooperatives. Our program has already raised $1000 through a generous donation to get our initiative off the ground. We have set a goal of matching that through public fundraising so please click the link below to learn more about the program and to donate.


New Program Description Series

With the start of our English, nutrition, cooking, and computer classes, our schedules have finally been finalized and we have finally gotten into the swing of things. All our workloads just got heavier and our time more constricted, but everyone is thriving so far. Since we've finally started all our programs, it's a great time to begin a weekly blog write up describing each of our programs written by the director of that program. The series will include a description of the program, what is currently happening within the it, and what the director envisions for the it over their next year of shaping the program.  I'll be starting the series describing our Teen Center, which is run by Peter, Jenny, and myself. 

The Teen Center is a separate part from our library that only children 12 years old and above are able use. This provides their own unique, mature space that they can hang out in when they want to escape the potentially wild atmosphere that is the library. The space has a crafts, board games, a ping pong table, and the biggest draw, the video game corner. While it doesn't seem like much, it means so much for the kids that can enter, and even more to the kids that can't. I witnessed for my first time yesterday the pure elation that a kid gets when he can finally enter. Bryan had turned 12 the day before yesterday and couldn't wait to get in. I think I played ping pong with him for a solid two hours before he got tired of it, and God was he awful. We also hold events specifically for the teens. This mostly comes in the form of a movie night every month where we bring our projector and create a mini theater for the kids on a Friday night. Our first one is September 21st and the kids are already excited. While movie nights are great, we are going to expand upon the idea of a monthly event this year. 
For October, we are planning on a hosting a salsa class for the kids, free of charge, led by our friend Danny who happens to be a member for the Ecuadorian Salsa team that competes globally. Yeah, we know. However, what we are most excited for is that our Thanksgiving volunteer group from UGA has chosen the Teen Center as it's focus project. We've decided to wait till then to do a huge remodeling of the space. We are planning on painting the area, building new furniture, tearing down useless parts, and generally doing a massive sprucing up of the space. Besides more events and a remodeling, my fellow directors and I have set the goal of turning the Teen Center into a more educational area. This will include setting up small library specifically for the teens, which will hopefully include subscriptions to a few magazines to keep the area updated and interesting. The big task will be getting the kids away from the video games. While extremely helpful in drawing them in, we also want them to take advantage of the space we provide and get something out of it besides how to beat Super Mario in an hour.
View of the Teen Center 

Jenny Prepping for the Kids


The Game Corner

If you would like to contribute to the Teen Center to help us achieve these goals, you can make a donation on the right side of the blog and simply specify the Teen Center. If you would like to contribute in a more direct way, you can send us anything in the list on the right side to our office in Nashville where it will find a way to us and be less of a dent in your pocket. Thank you for your continued interest and support.

Next week: Children's Art by Polly Colgan

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Festival and The (sorta) Bullfight

     The usually sleepy town we live in, Sangolqui, was thriving over the weekend for the annual maize and tourism festival. Those two themes don't really appear to go hand in hand but they're the two biggest means of revenue in the region so it's only right to celebrate them together. A group of us woke up early on Saturday morning to hand out flyers advertising our classes that start next Tuesday. We handed out 300 flyers in about thirty minutes so we felt pretty good about ourselves before we settled in to enjoy the parade. While the theme of the parade was the choclo (maize) it was really a show of horse clubs and the bulls that would soon be terrorizing the young, bold, and idiotic men that would be stepping into the arena with the toro. We knew the bullfight would be pretty terrifying to watch, however, none of us were expecting the parade to provide us with a number of scares as well. For every ten calm horses that strode past us, there would be one that was obviously not happy to be there and would rear and generally be impossible to control. We saw on two occasions a horse and rider turn into the crowd, sending the crowds scrambling for safety and on one occasion sending a woman and child flying to the ground. Luckily there were no serious injuries. Those were to come later in the afternoon.

The first horse club

 Showing off of the bull. Animal rights dont really exist here

A reason for the wild horses might of been that four 
year olds were riding them

Either a great cowboy or a terrible horse

     After a light siesta, the entire group minus animal rights activist in the making Joey, headed to the bullfight. Slowly making our way through crowds that numbered in the thousands, the arena suddenly loomed in front of us and the general feeling of excitement was immediately replaced by adrenaline fueled terror. Peter accurately compared the bullring to the first arena Russell Crowe fights at in the movie Gladiator while Sarah went for the Quidditch world cup comparison. The ring had been built specifically for the event and looked as it had been thrown together over night. It's three stories soared about thirty feet into the air with the ground floor reserved for stores selling beer and street food and beer. The second and third tiers were the viewing boxes. In order to reach the seemingly empty box we chose, we had to climb a shaky ladder to the third floor where we crammed in with around twenty other fans. The initial view was breathtaking. The ring was crammed with anywhere between 50 to 100 people, mostly made up of twenty to thirty something year old men. Only a handful had capes while the rest ran pellmell around the ring daring each other to get closer than they themselves had to the rampaging bull. Some, mostly those with the capes, showed real prowess and finesse that even would have impressed Hemingway. However, the majority were drunken thrill seekers who terrorized the bull by running circles around it and provoked it by throwing rocks and trash at the bewildered beast. After a few docile and confused bulls, the crowd began to get what the had been whistling for. A series of ferociously fast bulls took out a couple of the slower boys in the ring. We saw a few men get tossed in the air, some catching a horn from behind, but the bull didnt pursue them so there were no injuries that were too bad. The worst part of the evening had to be when a horse got caught and the bull was relentless in taking it down. You really have to respect how powerful the animal was when it could toss a full grown horse into the air. It was obvious that it was beyond healing but we were spared seeing the ending of its life by the large group of people that encircled the fallen animal. All in all it was a spectacular event to be a part of and made for a fun and culture packed weekend in Sangolqui.

The back entrance to the "boxes"

General pandemonium  

 Cowering men, charging bull

 Pawing the ground