We have been very busy the past two weeks planning our first ever Valley Benefit and our third annual Quito Benefit. Here is a post from Joey, our poet extraordinaire, about last Saturday's event:
Last Saturday witnessed the first annual Valley Benefit in Sangolquí. It was epic. Friendships were strengthened. Character was revealed. Prizes were won. Memories were made.
A brief haiku:
Smile with me.
We all benefit.
After an ink-spilling thrill ride of a Saturday morning (our students skillfully navigated their way through their final exams, nary a word nor idea was lost in translation), we all lightly gallivanted our way back to Sangolquí for lunch at Tiamata, a local restaurant that agreed to collaborate with us for the occasion.
Everyone settled down for lunch soon after arriving. Having everyone come together in a non-classroom setting is always a good time; there’s no talk of prepositions, adverbs, or any other parts of speech, there is only good old fashioned conversation amongst friends. I think it’s safe to say that we all view our students as friends rather than just students. Especially with our adult classes, many of the people we come to know are our age or older. It’s only natural that once we start to get to know one another that we all become quite close. For me it’s still odd when anyone calls me “profe” or “teacher” because I oftentimes feel like I’m learning far more from my students than they are from me. But to me that’s the whole idea… MPI is a cultural exchange where everyone involved is a student.
Anyway, after lunch Heather got up on the mic to thank everyone for coming, express our gratitude towards all of the people who frequent our community center, and begin our bingo-bailable bonanza. Lucy and I proceeded to take the stage to announce the bingo prizes (including restaurant gift certificates, a free semester of English classes at the library—which has already been redeemed!—a free haircut and manicure at a beauty salon run by one of our close friends in Sangolquí and a giant blanket donated by the local professional soccer teamIndependiente) and start the game. Everything went off without a hitch… in between games I even tried my hand at a little stand-up for our pals. The jokes were bad (What did Buddha say to the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything!), but the audience humored me quite gracefully. With a brief salsa-interlude included, we commenced the benefit’s final event: a cakewalk. Three lucky attendees went home with apple-cinnamon cookies, banana bread, and chocolate cake (which was made by Jenni… sure to be absolutely delicious).
Things gradually came to a close at that point. We once again thanked everyone for coming and reiterated how lucky we feel to be living and working here in Ecuador. Sometimes when we get caught up in our routines we forget just how unique this experience is. As our time in the Valley begins to wind down (it’s hard to believe we only have four months left), I find myself thinking more and more about just how lucky we really are.
But alas, my wistful ruminations were cut short when I was reminded that we had some afternoon karaoke to attend to. Only in Adele’s wildest dreams could she hope to nail “Someone Like You” as well as we did.
Take care everyone,-Joey
Patiently waiting for lunch
Our lovely event planners, Joey and Lucy
Janine with some of our favorite students
Lunch has arrived
Joey with one of our bingo prizes, an Independiente blanket generously donated by the soccer stadium
Hopefully awaiting their chance to yell BINGO
And of course no Bingo is complete without a salsa interlude