Your $1500 in donations got me here and let me do amazing things volunteering at this I'm trying to raise $575 to come home after 15 months! Make a donation (every dollar helps!) and read all about this unexpected adventure I've had. Thank you for your endless support!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New plans, as usual

Alright, it's August and I am unsurprisingly with new plans. Before an update on HOOP and what I've been up to in Arequipa, here's my new life plan for those interested:

  • Work with HOOP until I find a replacement for myself. We all want professionals to be running HOOP and although we founded it (or perhaps because of it) we know we are not the best people for the jobs we are in. The person could start as early as September, but I'm thinking late Fall (Spring, here) most likely.
  • Go from Peru to Washington D.C. on January 20th to see my sister Valerie's Navy School graduation on the 25th, hang out with Val for a week on the East Coast on her off time.
  • Spend a month or 6 weeks in the Pacific Northwest seeing all my loved ones.
  • Return to Lima in March 2013 to get a job in tourism while I apply to be a flight attendant with LAN or Taca. Not sure how long that would keep me in/based out of Lima, a couple years I'm thinking at the moment.

Anticipated flight attendant job acceptance victory dance
Pretty different plan than I had a year ago, that's for sure. I absolutely love and am committed to the success of HOOP, which is why I know I need to find someone else with the proper experience to do my job while I stay involved as a board member. I also want to work in a non-development related field for a while and I figured achieving my childhood dream of being a flight attendant would be a pretty cool way to do that! Plus I think living in Lima would be amazing and I do still have a way to go in my Spanish learning. I'm not excited that I won't be able to see everyone back home very much but that just means I'll have to cram in a bunch of quality time in that window and skype a lot more :)

At HOOP, we have been developing our aims as an organization and figuring out what direction we want to take Flora Tristan English School in. This obviously seems like something you do when you start up, not so many months (years, with FTES) after, but the entire process of starting an NGO is something we have done sort of upside down.Once they are solidified, I will give you an update!

Flora Tristan Community had an anniversary celebration, which FTES attended and participated in This photo at right tells you basically nothing about it, so go to this video and see the kids do their dance to the wildly popular Balada Boa song. It's Brazilian and you cannot escape it in South America. We're not a dance keeping that in mind I think we all did a pretty good job :) If you want to watch the original choreography, here's the dance we learned

TT and me, on our visa trip to Chile

We are still low on volunteers, but that should pick up mid-September. Currently, Priya and I are staying until January/February, Li is staying indefinitely, Eddy is staying 5 more months, and in September we will get 3 volunteers who want to stay 6-12 months--including the return of Teresa!! Teresa (aka TT) was our school coordinator but went home to Austria for the summer, and will be returning in September to be our Marketing Director for a year.

FIA is seriously lacking Fisher Fair Scones
For the last 11 days I worked as an anfitriona at FIA, the International Fair of Arequipa which was like a disappointing Puyallup Fair. No animals, not enough shows, and seriously lacking on the food front. Anyway, being an anfitriona (literally: hostess, essentially a promotion girl) requires the following: smiling, wearing ridiculous polyester promotional outfits, and standing. Very challenging. BUT it pays really well and who doesn't want to get paid for standing around and smiling? I was going to include a photo but I can't find one...I'll just throw one into the next blog randomly and if we're friends on facebook I'm sure you'll see it.

I had a great birthday, thank you all for your birthday wishes. I treated myself to a weekend in Lima and had some really great seafood. I must say I am pretty glad to be where I am in life at 22, and I think this year is going to be even better than the last!

Mil abrazos,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's Finally Here!!

HOOP HOOP Hooray!! The website is finally live. Please visit our website at! We will be adding more content over the next few months, including a version in Spanish, but for now, it will give you a good idea of what we are up to and how to contact us.

We have been very busy, but having to wait to do a lot until the website was launched. Now that it is launched, we are hoping to get a lot more volunteers. We are extremely low on volunteers at the moment, but the school is still up and running. HOOP is thriving and the school is very much open, and we welcome any volunteers that want to come work with us. I have been loving my job as Volunteer Coordinator/Human Resources director, communicating with volunteers and designing things like risk assessments, interviews, and contracts. It's actually really interesting (not kidding). I'm hoping that when I go home I can continue working in Human Resources.

Over the weekend, we went to the leadership workshop, led by Carmen and Marielena (the social worker who has been doing the diagnostic for us). It was very cool!! The girls that attended were part of the Flora Tristan community and want to change things for their community. Some will be helping us out at school, and some are free to help us if we ever have things on Saturdays, and all want to work on community projects to improve Flora Tristan. Carmen and Mari are so great at leading these workshops, they really shine! Mari is in the green sweater and Carmen is in the black jacket. In this video, Carmen is explaining leadership styles (and for some reason I am making a very sad face, if you see me in it).

Last week, Jose (the psychology student who volunteers with us) led a workshop for students about manners and behavior. We are excited to use his behavior chart system to reward students for good behavior and determine who will go on excursions. For our teenage students, we are going to start some sort of leadership class or club (similar to the student government idea I wrote about months ago) so that they can have a stake in the school, gain some responsibility and skills, and hopefully help out the older leaders that we have in our Saturday leadership workshops with the execution of community projects.
These videos are in Spanish.....but hopefully if you can't speak Spanish you can still grasp how attentive the students are. Behavior is an issue that we continuously need to come up with new strategies to tackle, and Jose is really helping us. The students went over polite phrases and later on in the workshop practiced them. He also ran through some quiet techniques, like having the students hold their breath for part of a song and then exhale, in order to calm the class down and get silence. Magda and Yajayda were the two social workers who ran our workshops before, but they are not able to run them any more since they are back in school. The students loved Magda and Yajayda, and are also really respecting Jose, and they enjoy his workshops.

That's a little update from HOOP, please check out the website! Also thank you for your donations, I am now only $550 away from buying my ticket home. My plan is to be home the last week of September, so if you can, please donate $15 today to help get me to my goal so I can buy a ticket ASAP. Just click on the donate button on the side and make a donation through paypal (you don't even need a paypal account to do it). Helping me come home would be a great early birthday present!! And please share my blog with anyone who would be interested in helping me or HOOP. 


Friday, June 1, 2012

It's already June?!

Hey everybody!

Another update on HOOP, English teaching, and the happenings in Arequipa.

The founders of TNT, Jay and Luis, are currently in Arequipa and we are sorting out the transfer of information and processes from TNT to HOOP. After a very difficult meeting, we have ended up with the school, as we had planned and as is legally ours to run. Hooray! Now things can get rolling. The Flora Tristan English School continues to run smoothly, and my job as Volunteer Coordinator/Human Resources Director is just starting. The HOOP website will be launched around June 11 so you can check everything out. The logo looks great and it will be a really clean and easy to navigate site. If you haven't checked out our facebook page, it's
Here Priya and I are in the TNT office, where we will never work in again.

I am continuing to teach English at El Cultural, where I think I'm growing on my students since they bought me cake and said they wanted to take me around Arequipa. A really nice feeling, as they usually awkwardly laugh at my jokes and I can never tell if they like me or not!

Speaking of showing people around Arequipa, here's a short youtube video of Arequipa which shows some sights I see everyday (the cathedral), and some I have never seen (the inside of the monastery).

I have yet to buy my plane ticket home, and do not have enough money to buy a ticket since my only income is 600 soles/month ($225). I am asking you all a huge favor--donate or loan me money so I can buy my ticket home! To those who have donated already, thank you so so much. I need $825 more to buy a ticket home for the first week of September. My goal is to raise this money by the end of June so I can buy my ticket far enough in advance that the price won't go up. If you would like to loan me money, I can promise to pay you back by the first week of December, just write a note in the paypal box. Anything you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

In Arequipa news, the weather is sunny and warm and the mountains are majestic. Same old, same old :)

Big southern hemisphere hugs,

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

HOOPing It Up, and Back to Fundraising

Oh. My. Goodness. I keep thinking things are going to calm down so I have time to write a proper blog, but I just don't know when that's going to happen!!

I am now the first official volunteer for HOOP! I am the volunteer coordinator, although while we don't have volunteers to coordinate, while we are still connected to TNT for the next few weeks, I am doing all kinds of things. Right now I am working with the rest of the HOOP staff (Priya, Carmen, Teresa, and Li) and an organizational psychologist to design exactly how we want our organization to be structured. He asks us questions we would never think to ask ourselves, about what exactly we want, what problems we may encounter, how to be sustainable, etc. It is quite a brain work out, and all in my ever-worse Spanish. (I moved out of the volunteer house and live in a room below a family's apartment in an attempt to improve my Spanish, but I am never there so I have yet to practice and continue speaking English most of the day.) He is only here for a week so we have been doing a lot of work on it.

I also have been doing a lot of diagnostic research. A diagnostic is the first step in creating an NGO, as you have to get a complete profile of the area you want to work in and their needs. I am doing international and national research on statistics about things  like domestic violence, literacy, drug addiction, alcoholism, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, child trafficking, prostitution, and racism. I love doing research and it has been a fascinating process, although at times very depressing to read some of the statistics. One I just read is that in Peru, 51% of all urban women and 69% of all rural women will experience physical or sexual violence during their lives. Really depressing, but unfortunately not that surprising. The social worker that is working with us on the diagnostic is doing regional reasearch down, from Southern Peru, Arequipa state, Arequipa city, Cono Norte, Flora Tristan, and then administering surveys to the community based on what information we find out.

Depending on what information the diagnostic uncovers, we may be doing a completely different project by the end of the year. We do know that the areas we want to work in are Education, Families/Communities, and Health.

The website is so close to being launched, and when we do I will post it all over everywhere and make a facebook page! You will be able to check it all out, including our snappy new logo.

I am still teaching English for pay at El Cultural and enjoying it. I am making enough money to live and eat real food--not just bread! I have yet to buy a plane ticket back home and I'm going to start raising money for that. I am asking for $900 so I can come home in September! If you would like to donate but you can't really afford it, I would gladly accept a loan that I could pay you back when I get back to Seattle and start working. Just write in the paypal note that this is a loan, or shoot me an email.

Also if you would like to donate to HOOP, while we do not have a bank account set up yet, you can donate using my paypal and I will give the money to HOOP.

I'll keep keeping you updated with everything and I miss you all,