Vacation, Work and Friends

Trip Start Feb 08, 2006
Trip End Apr 2008

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Thursday, August 10, 2006

Buenas Tardes!

Saludos a todos. Perdónenme por no escribir por tanto tiempo, hay mucho para contar! Regresé de las vacaciones en San Diego donde los días me pasaron demasiado rapido. Pero, ya estoy aquí en el Ecuador, lista para comenzar de nuevo con mi trabajo...

The past few weeks since my return from the states have been busy. The initial days were occupied with activities involving the Fifth Anniversary Celebration of San Juan de Cerro Azul. This included practicing the gymnastics routine that I had been working on with the niñas before I left, decorating for a barriada (neighborhood) competition, and preparation for the desfile civico (parade). Overall, I would say the party was a success. Lots of people, my barriada won the competition and the dance was a blast (I stayed til the madrugada (dawn!). Unfortunately, the girls performed with little success. Due to lack of practice, their presentation was confused and clumsy. However, if anyone learned a lesson it was me...don´t ever assume that 3 days of practice before a show, a group of girls ages 10-12 will be dedicated enough to pull it off!
Since then I have been doing my best to get back to work at the school and begin thinking seriously about other projects. This has involved a great deal of wandering around Cerro Azul, gathering info and generally chatting with anyone that is interested. So far I have discovered that the most imminently desired project is an English class (of course!). So I am now spending my evenings reading up on ESL and trying to organize the first few classes. This weekend I will hold a meeting to discuss the details (time, duration, materials, etc). As far as the class itself goes, I have found that the majority of my students will be high school age, and so the class will be structured accordingly. Vamos a ver!
Other projects in the works...improving on an already existing tree nursery owned by a very motivated gentleman in the community, as well as a NEW school garden. Yes, the original garden that was planted before I left (8 beds, 9 different vegetables) was torn up by a bulldozer in my absence...aaah, well, I don´t think I need to explicitly express my frustration on that subject. Instead, I will suggest that it is a blessing in disguise. The parents are ready to build a more durable fence, as well as organize schedules for watering and weeding. That meeting will be next Tuesday.
As for ongoing projects, I will be starting a unit on nutrition with the kids at the elementary school on Monday. Eventually, once the garden is growing again, I hope to combine the gardening tasks with the nutrition lessons. I´ve got some great resources here from Peace Corps on how to do it, including some fun activities, so I am looking forward to implementing them. As for the environmental ed, it is on hold now at the school, but I hope to continue the same line of teaching with the Environmental Club.
We will have our first book club meeting since my return tomorrow (a little late on that one) and we are a little more that halfway through the book. This is wonderful of course, but it puts pressure on me to find more. We shall see. At the very least, I am glad to have gotten the girls started with this book and if an interest is sparked in any of them, hopefully the reading will continue without the existence of a structured group (for the time being anyway).
¿Qué más? Have been making new friends left and right, both in and out of Cerro Azul. I have met several people working in development from NGOs, the Ecuadorian government and private organizations as well. Back in the states I believe it is called networking! Oh yes, and there are four new volunteers (in the programs of Health and Youth and Families) that will be joining our group down here in Machala. I can´t believe I´ve already been here for almost six months! Incredible. They will certainly be great resources.
That´s about it for now. I will be back soon to upload some photos (including lots from the fiesta!) Cuídense.

PS I added my PC address here in case any of you are interested in regular mail. Note: Packages must be under 4.4 pounds!
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