Thursday, March 28, 2013

PD Interview: Joey

With the departure of the vol groups, we are all back on our regular schedules and now can continue with our PD interviews. This week the one and only Joey Teevens is up:

Full Name: Joseph Shaun Teevens
Home Town:
Westborough, MA
College and Major: Year 1: University of New Hampshire, Year 2: Springfield College, Year 3: Worcester State College, Year 4: Center of Modern Languages in Granada, Spain, Year 5: Worcester State College

> 1. What programs do you run?
Children’s Basic English, Adult’s Advanced English, Library, Children’s Art, and English classes at Técnico del Valle (a local technical school).

> 2. If you had to pick one, which is your favorite and why?
Probably Adult’s English.  It’s nothing against the kids, but all of my adult students are in class of their own accord.  They are very motivated, inquisitive, and we often fall into some interesting class conversations about such things as religion, politics, education, and about which Ecuadorian beer is better: Pilsener or Club.

> 3. How did you hear about Manna and what made you want to join?
I heard about MPI through Worcester State University.  As part of WSU’s alternative Spring Break program I was a one-week volunteer for MPI Nicaragua.  My experience there was extremely enjoyable and I decided to apply to be a 13-month PD upon returning to the States.  The things about MPI that I drew me in the most were the extended cultural and linguistic experiences, the potential to form life-long friendships, and the personal autonomy of the Program Directors, who are free to reshape already established programs to fit their own styles/personalities and even to create new programs given the opportunity and resources.

> 4. Is there something from your experience so far that has caught you off guard?
A couple of things that rub me the wrong way are when people stare (unashamedly and for uncomfortable periods of time) at any of us gringos like we’ve got two heads, and the oftentimes sickening chauvinism of machismo, i.e. when men (most of whom use extremely questionable amounts of gel in their hair) catcall at women, whistle/hiss at them, and make snide remarks, all while feeling entitled to act so disgustingly.

> 5. Who's your favorite child in the Library….they'll never know?
There isn’t one kid that immediately jumps into my head as a clear favorite.  Gaining the trust of a bunch of different kids and becoming friends with them has been really rewarding.  There are certainly some kids who I will miss more than others when it comes time to leave, but as I said, I don’t have one specific favorite.

> 6. What is your favorite meal to cook?
As is known quite well throughout the house, I’m not exactly Top Chef… but I do my best.  So while my cooking skills leave much to be desired, I guess my favorite meal to cook is my favorite one to eat: chicken, mashed potatoes, boiled broccoli, green beans, and corn bread.

> 7. Who's your favorite band?
Currently it’s Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit.

> 8. What's cooler: The Choclo or the Monument de Ruminahui? Why?
I prefer the Choclo.  It’s much more colorful and inviting.  The unfortunate fact that the Monument of Rumiãhui has been fenced off from public use due to (from what I’ve been told by our neighbors) an excess of drug trafficking and violence in the past makes it much less of a draw… If they took down the fence and made the Monument a nice place to sit down, read a book, and relax, I might change my mind.

> 9. Where's your favorite spot to cuddle with Gandalf?
Gandalf and I do not hang out, let alone cuddle.  We simply co-exist.  Neither he nor I expect any kind of thawing in our relationship before August 7th when my contract ends. 

> 10. What do you think is the best thing you will take away from your experience with Manna?
Friendship!  It’s been a year full of good times, cool challenges, and fantastic people. 

> 11. What impact do you hope to leave on Manna?
I haven’t thought much about this one.  The hard part about spending 13 months living and working in a new place is that it’s long enough of a time to develop lasting bonds and memories, but it’s still quite a short period in the grand scheme of things.  Our contract ends, we are replaced by new PDs, and we ourselves become nothing more than a memory here in the Valley.  If I’ve managed to bring positive energy and laughter to MPI then I’m satisfied.

> 12. How will the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez affect Latin America? Will his pronounced successor Nicolas Maduro win or will Venezuelans choose a different way forward?
I assume that Maduro will win if only because he’s got Hugo’s political machine behind him, and Chavez himself told his supporters to back him… that should be enough for him to win the special election.  It’s been interesting to see the reaction to Chavez’s death here in Ecuador.  Most of the sentiment towards him (from what I’ve seen) is positive.  He’d done some really good things for his country (nearly eradicating illiteracy, upping social spending, decreasing the country’s overall poverty percentage, etc.) and he’d also done some not-so-good things, too (censoring the media, limiting opposition input, and while he has lowered the poverty rate, it still remains very high).  As a nationalistic, charismatic leader, I think spiritually he has provided a boost for Latin America.  As a strong-handed politician, I think he has only perpetuated a long tradition in the region of too-powerful administrations with dictatorial tendencies.

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