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!