A FAO Greenhouse

A FAO Greenhouse
One of the members in my training group taking a look at a plot of lettuce

Another Visit With QBL

Another Visit With QBL
We visited the innaguration for a series of new chicken coops QBL financed in a small village in the low-lying andes mountains, 7 hours north of La Paz

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Teaching English

My class has grown! I now have 7 students (7.5 if you include Max’s 3 year old little sister who much enjoys our classes and has already mastered “hello” and “later.” Although some of the more in depth themes give her trouble her class participation is unrivaled). So I began my connection with Education Resource Center ( CRP) through Gregoria Apaza although that affiliation is no longer in tact- Gregoria decided they didn’t want me to be teaching in a setting beyond their control in a many-times anti-American/impoverished city. So I decided to teach any way. One because I really enjoy it and had already made the commitment to the director and two, because we had already had two classes. Although I was informed that these students had a decent base in English and I would be focusing on conversation, that was entirely incorrect.

All my preparation was conversation games and vocabulary building- now its numbers, introductions, present-tense conjugation, and basic grammar. Turns out they had had “a year or more of English” but only once a week for less than an hour and apparently with little to no use of mnemonics; or anything they would or could ever use in a classroom or real-life setting.Additionally I’m making all my own materials- the CRP has no money for texts and I haven’t found any English textbooks in the scattered corner librerias which are more like supply stores with a few books here or there. I’m still looking around and have a couple good leads but until then I’m the writer and editor. Which I suppose sounds alright but last I checked Wake Forest didn’t teach me how to write educational texts. On the other hand, I really enjoy it- I like the creativity and freedom of it. Next week we're going to teach eachother how to cook a dish and on Thursday we're going to have a poprock festival when we translate their favorite English songs. Any suggestions and/or resources are gladly welcomed!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

El Día Del Niño

Last weekend I accompanied Rotary Club Miraflores to a small community about an hour south of La Paz on the Dia del niño to distribute toys and others items such as baseball caps. The community is situated near the river that flows north-south from La Paz in zona sur. In January the river diverted its course and innundated a number of houses, fields crops, and had a grave impact on the region.
We worked through a contact who was the leader of a recently formed children’s activity center (although I call it a “center” it was simply someone who cared enough to plan activities for the kids around their dusty small soccer field- from all accounts it had been a great success). All told we distributed items to more than 50 children from ages 4ish to 15ish. They greeted us with a covered tent area adorned with local flowers, two liters of pepsi and plenty of energy. Each child came up to us and shook our hand before getting a toy and a hat ( a display of manners the director was proud of). We then shared pepsi and some candy with everyone. All the kids were lined up according to age groups in single file lines. Once we finished up the formalities however, I, along with others, suggested we begin the real job at hand- challenging the locals to a little game of soccer.
The president of Rotary Club Miraflores, the Secretary of the club, myself, and a couple other kids formed one team- the other team consisted of entirely too talented 9-10 year olds equipped with high altitude lungs, discipline and the burning desire of champions.
After a 30 minute battle between the two forces, random searches for lost soccer balls in the brush, and a continuous stirring of dust, the match ended. Indeed I can’t remember who won, but it matters not. We’ve arranged to schedule a rematch in the coming weeks.
After we finished the game, a number of the families overwhelmed us with plates of delicious food! It was far too much for us to handle and made me feel even less worthy than I did already- a great morning!

From there I went on to class where I did a presentation on the Spanish Colonial destruction of Andean territorial planning, culture, and daily life. Got to read some really cool laws from the 1500's. I'll try to write another blog about it!