Thursday, August 30, 2007
First of all, it takes place in an all-inclusive resort. As you all know, nothing about my service thus far has been all-inclusive. Nothing. No part is soft and cushiony, cool and relaxed, nor tastey and indulging. Nor is it very comfortable at times, but it feels right none-the-less in a very strange sort of way (probably because I`ve been doing it for the past 2 years). Now, take a group of people living like myself and place them in the pinnacle of luxury and what do you get? Initial smiles followed quickly by comments like, ¨Well, the food isn`t all THAT great.¨ ¨The pool is awfully chlorinated.¨ ¨I feel like I´m gonna puke, I ate so much ice cream.¨ ¨The ocean looks like this place´s sewage tank.¨ ¨I think the air conditioning is giving me a cold.¨ ¨The down comfortors make me sweat at night.¨
Do these sound like happy people to you? There we were living the ¨American Dream¨ if I may use the cliché despite being in Nicaragua, and nobody was any happier than they were living in their 2-room houses, some with dirt floor, pigs living in the back yard, no privacy, hot tin roofs, sleeping on hard beds under mosquito nets, and eating a less-than-ideal diets. So while many people would disagree, I say give me a tent and a backpack any day and I´ll have a great vacation. I´ll pass on the all-inclusive-resort (be it on land or a boat).
Making the ¨vacation¨ even more disappointing was the fact that we were in meetings from 8am-5pm. The meetings didn´t do much more than stress me out about going home. How am I going to say goodbye to people I´ve been living with for the past 2 years who I may never see again other than during 2-week vacations every few years? How am I going to get rid of all my stuff, and what of it do I give away or sell, and to who? What job will I get when I go home? Where will I live after the initial stay with my parents? How will I explain to loved ones what these past 2 years have meant to me? And when they ask ¨How was the Peace Corps?¨ and expect a four-word answer? Then what do I say?
With all these questions going through my head, I`m having a hard time focusing on the reports I still have to write, the classes I still have to give, and the visits I still have to make to other volunteers. Wish me luck as I try to live as much in the moment without suffocating in the stress that seems to want to over-take me! Hopefully I can keep this updated with pictures, but if not, look for me on US soil, and ask to see my pictures. You´ll become my instant best friend!
Monday, July 9, 2007
We had such a great time, and it was hard not to want to crawl into her suitcase while she was packing. But for now I´m trying to prepare for the beginning of the second semester. I plan on teaching as much as possible during these last few months here since I really don´t have any other projects going on. I´ll try to keep this updated as much as possible!
Hope all are well!
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I´ve disappeared off the face of this earth as far as my blog is concerned. I guess I was waiting for some good pictures to put up, but I should write even when there´s not much to show. Things have been busy. I only come into Boaco to use the computer about once a week. But the nice thing is that I´ve been staying with Raina (another volunteer) almost every Sunday night and then returning to my site on Monday which gives me a much-needed break from my own house!
I´ve been enjoying work a lot. Work has been almost exclusively restricted to within the schools. I decided to do something about the horrible excuse they have for literacy here, and teamed up with the Spanish teacher at the local high school. Even though my time is supposed to be restricted to working with 3rd-6th grades, I´m helping out with the 1st years (which translates into 7th grade in the States). I only just started, but the goal is to increase their reading comprehension and their writing skills (their spelling is atrocious). The first class was pretty much a bomb, but in all the right ways. I now know that their reading comprehension was WAY worse than I ever imagined, and that they´re far below a 4th grade reading level. So at least I know where to start with them. Hopefully the next class will go a little more smoothly.
Wish me luck!
As for my work with the 3rd-6th grades, it´s pretty sporadic. I´ve been putting more of an emphasis on reading comprehension while trying to stay on the topic of ¨Saving the Environment.¨ It´s been a success mostly- the kids love being read to- but it´s not exactly following my job description. But hey, what are they gonna do, fire me?
The most regular class I give at the primary schools is with a multi-grade class in a school about a half hour away from me by bus. We do arts and crafts projects once a week using ¨garbage¨ or materials that are cheap/free. For example, they made boats out of the shell of a seed pod that they call the Devil´s Penis. Despite the fact that I have a hard time hearing the kids using these words freely during school hours, I have to admit that the name makes sense. The outside of the seed pod is full of really sharp spines. So the boats have a spiny bottom and a little stick with a hand-drawn Nicaraguan flag sticking out the top. Then we used seeds and hand-made beads made out of magazine paper to make some pretty cool-lookin´ necklaces, if I do say so myself! Here´s a picture of us all showing off some of our work:
I´m not sure if I´ve mentioned this yet, but the water situation here has been horrible. It didn´t rain much last rainy season, and this dry season has been disastrous. The wells are drying up, springs that once gushed water now give none, and most rivers are bone dry. We do have potable water (is potable a word in English?), but so little has been coming that we only use it for drinking. In order to ¨shower¨ (aka: bucket bathe) and wash clothes, we have to find outside sources. About a quarter mile from where we live, there´s a river called Río Grande (Big River), that still has water, but is more of a creek than anything now. Anyway, it´s enough to wash clothes in. So here´s a wonderfully ironic picture of the Environmental Education Volunteer polluting one of the only rivers left in the area (along with my host mom, neighbor, and neighbor´s son):
As Semana Santa (Holy Week) approaches, I look forward to a break from work. There´s no school all week nor the following Monday after Easter (people really know how to celebrate here), and so I plan on leaving town. I don´t yet know where I´ll be going, but I plan on taking lots of pictures so here´s to hoping I post a new blog sooner rather than later!
Monday, February 12, 2007
One more happy note is that one of my neighbors, Yasser, turned 1 last week! He has a special place in my heart since he´s actually newer to my town than I am!! So I bought him a birthday outfit and we had a photo session. My favorite photo was this one:
Well, that´s all I have for now! I´m really hoping to update this site more often, but work has kept me all-too busy! Have a great week everyone!
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Me at the beginning of the last workshop:
That´s all I have time for today! I´ll add more once my schedule calms down a bit. School just started a couple of weeks ago, and I´m trying to get my projects up and off the ground. Wish me luck and check back in in a week or so!
Monday, January 15, 2007
Thursday, January 4, 2007
Kindly ignore the fact that I look drugged in this picture.
Yay! Look how happy and not-drugged I am!
So in a couple of days I'll be heading back, and though I'm nervous, I'm pretty excited to get back to my host family, my friends, and of course, my dog. I have a number of projects lined up- the first of which will be a collaborative effort with all the volunteers in my department (we're a small group at 8). We'll be giving one teacher workshop in each of our sites to 50 teachers in the area on a variety of topics ranging all the way from First Aid in the classroom (done by a Health volunteer) to creative fundraising and budgeting (done by a Small Business volunteer). By the end of January, we hope to have finished all 8 workshops so that when school starts in February, we're free to start our own projects within our sites.
So enjoy the new website! I hope to have a lot more pictures and maybe even videos to make the words just that more interesting.