Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Joy of Teaching

Guest post by summer intern Caitrin Rhoads

Hi!  My name is Caitrin, and I am one of the 8-week summer interns here at Manna Ecuador.  Our new 4-week interns just arrived this weekend.  Welcome, Charlotte, Naafeh, and Jose!
                One of the main reasons I chose to spend this summer with Manna was to teach English classes.  The day before I came to Ecuador, I graduated with my MAT (Master’s in the Art of Teaching), so I was excited to get experience in a new kind of classroom setting here in Ecuador.  Teaching English is difficult in many ways, but also very rewarding!
                Twice a week, many of us interns help out with one of the Program Directors’ English classes.  The class I help with is the most basic level of children’s English.  This means that the children have very limited vocabulary, and 95% of the class is in Spanish.  Greg and I teach using lots of games and songs to keep the kids interested and awake- an hour and a half of English is tough after a full day of school!  One game we’ve been playing more recently that the kids love is a variation on Duck, Duck, Goose.  Instead of saying “duck” and “goose,” we have the kids say things that often sound the same when they pronounce them: “hat” and “cat,” “pink” and “pig,” or “back” and “black,” for example.  I try to get the kids speaking in complete sentences as frequently as possible even with their limited vocabulary.  This often entails passing a ball around the circle saying things like “Hello, Juan.  How are you?”  “I’m fine.  Hello, Anahi.  How are you?” “I’m fine.  Hello…”  Well, you get the idea.

                I also teach a basic children’s English class on Saturday afternoons with Adriana, another 8-week intern.  This has been a neat experience because it is all us- no Program Directors involved!  This means we have had to step up to plan and teach the lessons on our own.  Adriana’s Spanish and my training as a teacher make us a pretty good team!  This past Saturday, we taught our class the months in English and had them think of holidays that are in each month.  She and I ended up learning as much as the kids did, since we had never heard of Ecuadorean holidays like Día del Escudo (Day of the Ecuadorean seal/ crest) or Día de la Batalla de Pichincha (Day of the Battle of Pichincha, a nearby mountain).   

                Other interns help with more advanced children’s English classes, or even with near-fluent adult English classes on Saturday mornings.  This past Saturday, I got to sub for PD Tori’s class because she was in Otavalo.  This was a big change of pace from my two classes!  I might have said about 5 words in Spanish the entire time, and we were able to read an advanced article and debate whether or not voting should be mandatory in Ecuador (as of now, it is- nonparticipants pay a fine that increases each time they do not vote). 
                Getting to help Ecuadoreans of all ages (I help at the preschool and a local college, as well!) learn English has given me lots of experience that will make me a better teacher back in the States in the fall.  It has also shown me how complicated the English language can be!  Most of all, though, it has given me the opportunity to form some meaningful relationships as I let my students teach me a thing or two about Spanish, Ecuadorean culture, and the beauty of lifelong learning.​

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ecua Summer Interns Start "Science Tuesdays"

Guest Post by Summer Intern Adriana 

So the interns have officially been in Ecuador for one month, so crazy! The interns recently spent about two hours in a coffee shop in Baños reflecting on our time with Manna. One of the things that we realized we all enjoyed immensely was the party we threw for "Dia Del Niño." The party was a really neat experience to interact with the kids in a way that is very different than an ordinary day at the library. As we reflected on the party, we realized that we wanted to have more opportunities to engage with the kids more. We soon started brainstorming  ideas of things we could do at the library with the kids that could be our little "intern project."

We decided that we were going to have a different theme for every week that was left. We are going to tailor activities, books, and science experiments depending on the theme. For example, this past week we decided that our theme would be Plants. I am in charge of the science experiments (we know have "Science Tuesdays"). The first experiment we did was with a plastic bottle, baking soda, lemon and a balloon. The kids learned that the balloon was inflated because of the CO2 that was produced. We were then able to relate that to how plants use CO2 and produce oxygen. 

Some possible themes for the future are animals, careers, and countries. We are still trying to figure things out and we are seeing what the kids enjoy the most. Eventually we want to have a designated wall where we can show what the kids are learning that week and showcase their artwork. It's been interesting to see how this project developed from some small talk in a café! We will keep you guys updated on our weekly themes and projects with the kids! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Connections and Reflections

A guest post by summer intern Rachel Sellstone

"It's so hard to believe that I am almost halfway through me summer here at Manna. Intern Sam has already left us for home in Texas and Jake is leaving in just a few days! Trying to put myself in their shoes makes me realize how far we have come in our time volunteering here. Part of my feels like I JUST learned what busses to take where, but another past of me feels like I have made incredible bonds despite only having experienced a fraction of what goes on here in the day-to-day life of a Manna PD. These past two weeks have taught me so much about the kind of work I value and the difference we can make here if we really reflect on where we can be most useful. Coming into this summer, I though I would have wanted to spend all of my time with children - assisting in a Children's English class, spending time in the library, essentially any way to hang out with the (adorable) kids that spend time in our programs. Most of my work experience at home is with young children and I have always gravitated towards kids. I have done these things (and loved them) but I was surprised to find that where I have realized the most important relationships in here is in my conversations with the adults that take advantage of all of Manna's resources here.

From assisting in the English classes at a local university, ESPE, and having meaningful cultural
conversations with the students there, to sitting in on PD Virginia’s adult English class in which the
students debated such topics as “When we lose language, we lose culture,” “It is important to learn
English to get a job here” and “Tourists should make an effort to speak my language,” it has been
incredible to learn why so many Ecuadorians really want to learn English and to realize how influential
our work here really can be. It’s even more rewarding when this passion for learning translates from
the adults to their children. I love it when there are entire families that participate in multiple facets of
Manna’s work here. I’ve experienced that first hand with the family of one of the students in PD Carryn’s Children’s English class, which I have been assisting in. Our student Martin is incredibly intelligent and well-mannered, but struggles to keep up with some of the information in class. His mom, Carmen, stays after class with Carryn and I every week to ask about Martin’s progress, and to ask us to help him with the English work he has from school. She is so grateful to us for our help with Martin, and has shown that gratitude by supporting Manna in other settings. The other day, the interns organized our own library party to celebrate Dia del Nino, and she came early with both Martin and his younger brother, helped us with crowd control (the party was a HUGE success, to say the least), and even ran to the store and brought me cups and spoons to serve fruit salad in when she saw that kids were simply eating off napkins. She also takes our adult English class herself. My relationship with Carmen grows every time I see her and I can’t wait to see the progress Martin makes over the next few weeks.

Facing painting at Dia del Nino 
There was no better way for us interns to reflect on the bonds we are making here than to spend last
weekend in the Amazon. The six of us traveled alone to Tena, where we enjoyed a weekend of exploring the jungle, fooling around with monkeys, and best of all, whitewater rafting. The guide company we chose is owned and run entirely by indigenous people, something unique in an expat-dominated tourism market. I was so glad that we were maintaining our commitment to working in partnership with community members even on our weekend off. We were able to learn so much about the Amazon from our guide, Eduardo, who had us trying cacao beans, getting temporary “tattoos” from the plants of the jungle, and looking for vulture eggs. I feel so fortunate to be forging this incredible bond with Ecuador, both during my work at Manna and in my time exploring all this country has to offer."
The summer interns with their two rafting guides 

Summer interns loving the Amazon white water