Monday, September 29, 2008

Welcome Back ONW Spanish Students

I just returned from a long week of teaching trainings, and so my brain is mush. But I just wanted to drop a quick post saying that I am doing wonderfully. Both of the trainings (one for WID/GAD and the other an IST about starting a Teen Social Theatre Group) went off without a hitch. I learned a lot and even taught people in Spanish. Teaching in Spanish is both a comfort, as I realized that I can speak a lot more than I think, and a challenge, as I realized I have barely a grasp on the more complex grammatical concepts.

I'll post more on this in my next post when I have pictures and can explain all that we were doing.

But I also wanted to send a big shout out once again to the Olathe Northwest Students from Olathe, Kansas. I'll be responding to your email within the next week. Keep up the hard work, learning Spanish is so worth it, as is travelling to other countries and seeing the world! I highly recommend it. More news to come!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Quien Soy Yo? - Who Am I?

"Quien Soy Yo?" is a program curriculum for children between the ages of 8 and 14 to learn more and develop their own self-esteems. It was created by a Peru-5 volunteer who only recently returned to the States after taking a third year and being a tech trainer for Peru-11. The curriculum uses activities such as personal flag, discussions about the things that make us special, as well as tools that help the children think about their favorite things and what they like about themselves. This has become an important tool for Youth Development volunteers here in Peru. It's a great curriculum that you can just jump into as soon as you get to site whether your Spanish is great or poor. Plus, any teacher, public official, health worker, social service worker, or educated person in Peru will tell you that everyone in Peru needs to have their self-esteem built up.

In the United States we don't really ever think about this. My generation has been practically raised on self-esteem and self-discovery, but it's easy to see the effects that a low self-esteem can have on children or their country. I know that might sound dramatic, but really believe that working with young people and their parents to raise self-esteem would help drop the statistics on alcoholism, familial violence, and poverty. Having a healthy self-esteem not only makes you more confident in yourself but in your ideas and your ability to carry them out. Their is a lot of idea stealing in Peru. If one business sprouts up that is successful, in a matter of weeks you will see five more just like it and right next door. Yet, Peru is country rich in resources and the people I have met have the most untapped potential.

When I arrived in Jangas, I immediately started teaching "Quien Soy Yo?" in two classes of fourth graders. They seem to enjoy the class, and every where I walk I get greeted with a "Buenos Dias, Profesora" and a kiss in the cheek. I already see some of the quieter kids coming out of their shells. And the kids now state with a little more conviction their likes and dislikes. But they're still learning to appreciate themselves and those things that make them special. I'm hoping to rap up this class and move on to something else. I also am looking forward to doing similar curriculums (but slightly different in the older classes).

These are the two teachers that I work with. The top picture is of Prof. Blanca and the bottom is Prof. Rosa. They're great teachers. I'm very impressed with their professionalism and desire to work with me. Plus, their students are pretty well-behaved.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Elections, elections, and more elections

Many people ask if we PC Volunteers keep up with what's going on with the U.S. elections, and the truth is we can be as involved and aware or uninvolved and ignorant as we want to be. I actually watched much of the Democratic National Convention from my hostel room in Lima. And I get email updates about the elections where I could watch the speeches at the Republican National Convention. So I know what's going on. It's not as in my face here, and I do have to do some research, but I appreciate those people or organizations in which I am a member that keep me posted on all the important political and entertainment issues happening around the world.

In this new time of massive globalization I can't really walk down any street in Peru without being asked about the United States elections, and even more specifically I'm often asked about Barak Obama which I think demonstrates that the world is watching us during this election, and people from other parts of the world find Obama intriguing and his nomination as ground breaking and interesting. People rarely ask me about McCain. Sometimes I'm asked about Bush, but more and more people want to know about Obama and if I'll be voting for him. We're not supposed to take a political side being PCVs, and I'm pretty private about that kind of thing anyway. But it has helped me develop some more political vocabulary. And it's a topic that opens up doors to hear their opinions on their own President (Alan Garcia for those of you not paying attention), the Free Trade Agreement between the US and Peru, and their ideas and thoughts about the US. Sometimes where I live, people are a little closed off from stating their opinions and critical thinking isn't really taught in schools here. So I enjoy when my friends or students or co-workers (non-PCVs - because they have no problem stating their opinions) in Jangas talk about their thoughts.

In other news, I have been doing exceptionally well lately. I have been working on my Work Plan for the next four months and the truth is, I'm overwhelmed. I have so many potential projects, all of them are something I'm looking forward to working on, but it's a question of time and whether or not my community partners are excited on working on them. One of my newest frustrations is that I'll set a meeting, show up to meet, and then have to set another meeting because either everyone forgot or are busy or in another activity. So with a few organizations I have had multiple meetings to try to create new projects and activities. It's kind of crazy, but asi es la vida. In the grand scheme, it's such a minor frustration.

More to come...with pictures. I couldn't upload them today.