Arriving at the school we waited for the students to arrive in the back of their "school truck"
. They came shortly after us. Monday mornings the school begins with the singing of the national anthem in a circle outside the school. The students are supposed to wear their traditional clothing, but some do not. The school director, Juan, introduced us to the students and they all told us their names and ages. There are only about twenty-five or so students in the whole school. I asked to be in the kindergarten classroom, so I followed them to their separate building. Once there, the teacher, Senorita Diana checked the student's homework and they began working in a workbook tracing and copying letters and shapes. She was then informed that the cook for the school didn't show up and she had to go make colada for the snack time students get at 9:30. They begin school at 8am. Colada is a drink that people have here. It's warm and I think it's made with oatmeal or rice and soy, maybe quinoa...and sweetened. They cook it over a fire stove at the school. It reminded me a bit of baby pablum that has been watered down. I thought it actually tasted quite good, but the boys only had it for a couple days. Lunch is served at 12:15pm and then the students return to classes around 1pm until 3pm. Some days I left after lunch to volunteer in the library, about 20 minutes away from the school. Here, local people can pay a small fee to use the internet or have volunteers help them with learning English. I met a few wonderful people of the community this way!
Anyway, to make a long story short, the cook had quit and the kindergarten teacher became the cook for colada and lunch. Caleb and Aiden took turns helping me with the kindergarten students and there was usually another volunteer with us that could speak Spanish. It was difficult to get the students to listen to us and there is no electricity here. I had wanted to video conference with some students from my school back home, but no internet here either! Some days there were five students in kindergarten, but other days ten. Most of the time students worked in their books until colada time and then we made art or played outside until lunch. Caleb and Aiden also worked in the older student's classrooms during math periods, English and art. There are four official teachers: Juan the director, Roberto, a teacher who teaches the traditional Kichwa language and Diana the kindergarten teacher turned cook. The first two days Jim was helping with manual labour, collecting pine needles from the surrounding forest and covering the path ways to help keep down the dust. Salasaka is a very dusty place! The women use their traditional woolen shawl or a bandana to cover their faces. Jim was sick the last three days in Salasaka and rested in bed.
The boys made lots of friends at the school! They greeted them each day with lots of hugs and when we shared our Canadian culture with the school on our last day, they were given lots of cards made by students. We will never forget the students and volunteers we met in Salasaka!
If anyone out there wants to make a small donation to some great kids, you can do it here
. Believe me, even $10 goes a loooonnng way in Salaska where a truck/bus ride costs 15 cents!
We currently are sitting in a little airport in Shell, Ecuador waiting for the okay to fly into the Amazon. Apparently the field landing spot is wet, so we wait. I will use this opportunity to blog about our amazing volunteer experience in Salasaka. We awoke on Monday morning at 6:15am in order to eat Robert's delicious oatmeal before walking the 35 minutes to the school. Aiden would tell you it was 45 minutes though. The sightseeing along the way was interesting! We greeted the donkeys, pigs, dogs, sheep and pigs along the way with "Buenos Dias". An American volunteer, Jamie was our leader to show us the way to school. Salasaka sits in a volcano basin. We just missed some volcanic activity that happened three weeks ago. One of the active cones erupted with smoke and ash, along with ground rumbling!