Your $1500 in donations got me here and let me do amazing things volunteering at this NGO...now 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!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Long Time No Update!

Hello everyone! I know it's been forever since I've updated and you all have no clue what I'm up to down here in the southern hemisphere. My New Years resolution is to blog weekly so hopefully you'll all be more informed. I only have 15 weeks left in Arequipa!

I am now volunteering at TNT´s other project, the Magical School of English in Flora Tristan, a neighborhood at the base of the mountains. It's about 40 minutes by bus from our house, and the neighborhood is very low-income. They have dirt roads, tin roofs, and just put in a sewer system in the last month. The school serves about 75-100 students per day, from 4 to 17 years old. There are four classes for children and one adult class, Monday through Friday. Currently we teach English for an hour and then have an hour of playtime on the sportcourt that's down the hill. At the end of the month, the classtime will be extended to an hour and fifteen minutes, and we're also thinking about keeping the school open for more hours and functioning like a community center, where children could come work on their homework.

Inside the school, our bathroom is on the right
Saw this woman on my way home after school
The view from outside my old classroom
Starting in December, I became the School Coordinator for Traveller Not Tourist. I share this role with Li, who just left for a month of vacation after being here for a year (but will be coming back for another year), and Enrique, a guy who just arrived this week and will be here almost as long as I will be. I am working as a school administrator, making sure all the teachers are doing their jobs, and working on developing the school. At the end of the month, we are launching a new curriculum that was developed with professional teachers who volunteered, complete with textbooks. It's keeping me quite busy! I was teaching for the last three weeks but now that Li is gone I float around to classes and manage the school during class time, and during the morning I work in the office on curriculum documents and school administration.

I'm also working on getting a psychologist to come talk to the parents about child development, parenting, and other things that they expressed interest in learning about at a school meeting. Monthly workshops for parents on things like health, mental health, parenting, job skills, handicrafts, and rights, will hopefully make the school more of a community center. This is the project I'm most excited about, because I think the school has a lot of potential to do so much more for this community, and I know I have the background to help make that happen.

In other news: I had an excellent Christmas, including parties for the school and the orphanage, and for New Years we went to the beach. I am not speaking as much Spanish as I would like to be, but I have a friend I do translating work for in my spare time (don't have much!) in exchange for cups of coffee and we speak Spanish together. I am working on getting a job in Colombia in May so I can pay for myself staying there for the six months and volunteering, although hopefully I could get a job in social services so I'm doing what I'm passionate about. I miss all the comforts and delicous foods of home but I am still so grateful to be here and I smile so much everyday. I miss you all!

Thank you so much to anyone who made a contribution to me, it means the world to me and I am much closer to having enough money to stay down here until the end of April. Only $500 to go!

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