lunes, 23 de enero de 2012

You say goodbye, and I say hello

This week was another week full of transition, not as much for the new volunteers but for the old.  The group of 12-ish volunteers starting last January spent their last week training us, saying their goodbyes, and packing up to go home.  It’s been an emotional time for everyone and even the Friday night assembly for all the kids to say goodbye, the despedida, made a few of us new volunteers tear up.

The new volunteers are now trained and moving into their new rooms.  Today, Monday, is the first day for many on their own in their position.  It’s exciting and has that feeling of, “ok, let’s get started.”

This has been a really good week.  When I think back to the last time I blogged on Saturday, it seems like forever ago.  The rest of the weekend was really nice.  I’m really thankful for how well all of us seem to get along.  Saturday night a few of us went to a coffee shop and talked for hours on issues ranging from poverty to sex education to our relationships with family and friends.  After this conversation I think we all felt refreshed and pensive.  I knew (like I think all of us) that I will have people I can talk to and connect with throughout this whole year.  It’s so good.

Here are some pictures of me and the other volunteers in Chimaltenango and Antigua.
Janelle, me, creepy Shawn, and Charlotte
At the Artesan market in Antigua

Out to lunch

Monday and Tuesday I spent with my kids.  Now that I’ve been spending more time with them, I’ve felt more freedom to do some different things with them rather than just observing.  Monday I was able to go to some Special Education classes/therapy with an amazing woman who’s been volunteering here for 6 months.  She is a calm peaceful middle-aged woman from Germany.  She reminds me a lot of my mom and has been more or less my mentor in my position.  She previously served as the Special Ed Coordinator, but now her position has changed so that she’ll be doing small group classes in the Montessori school.  She’s been so great with checking up on me and asking how I’m doing at the home.  I’m so glad I get to work with her and it’s so easy to ask her questions.  Anyway, so this week I worked with her and some of the kids making music with different instruments, reading books, and visiting the goats (another benefit of having animals here).  Then one afternoon I took a couple ladies for a walk to the library and we read Aladdin together.  We really enjoyed this and I started to hope my position would include lots of trips to the library.  Another thing I think we’ll do a lot is go for runs.  Several of the younger kids just love to run around the soccer field laughing and racing each other.  It seems like every time I’m at the house they ask “vamos a correr?” Reading and running, some of my favorite things J

Wednesday through Friday we learned more about NPH rules and policies and the roles of NPH International.  It was nice to have a change of pace and its good that the volunteer coordinator has been here for awhile and has everything so organized.  During this time, every volunteer chose a section to be a part of.  A part from a volunteer’s job, each of us also has a section that they spend time with every week.  Sections are just the groups like older girls, younger girls, older boys, younger boys, babies, kids with special needs etc.  There’re some 12-14 sections I think.  Because I am a tía I don’t really have a section apart from where I’m working which is with the kids with special needs.  However, if I end up changing my position in a month or two for the recreation therapy, I might get a section as well.  I would definitely choose the boys between 8-10 years old.  I love how mischievous and playful they can be.  After everyone chose their sections, everyone spent the afternoon with their kids.  Shawn chose the special needs section which I’m really glad about, for both selfish and unselfish reasons.  It’ll be great to have another person to spend time with the kids and give them more attention and all that jazz.  For me it’ll be great to have a volunteer to work with.  Because Shawn’s from my culture and is accustomed to working with people with disabilities in the states, I feel like we can talk about our impressions, thoughts, and struggles and be understood.  He will join us for dinner twice a week and maybe visit on the weekends sometimes.

After talking with Vilma, my supervisor, and Erika, the volunteer coordinator, I’ve got my schedule figured out at least for the first month.  There are two groups of tíos that trade off shifts.  I with be working with the shift that starts this Tuesday (hence why I am writing this blog today instead of working).  I will start at 6am and finish around 6:30/7pm when they go to bed.  They sleep A LOT.  So, I will have this schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday, then get Thursday-Friday free, then work Saturday/Sunday etc.  It’ll be kind of hard not having free time when the other volunteers have free time, but its good thing I’m an introvert and cherish my alone time.  As of now I won’t be doing night duty at least until I get more used to things and the behaviors and needs for the kids.  I’m secretly hoping my doing night duty won’t be necessary…

Because some tíos are on vacation, I’m going to be responsible for two boys with their personal care, chores, etc.  I like both of them a lot and they are very different. 

Here’s a picture of Leo

He’s really sweet and loves to joke around.  He goes to school in the mornings so I won’t see too much of him, but the time I’ve spent with him he seems awesome.

                                                               And this is Juan Carlos

I love his strong and energetic personality.  He loves to talk and get into things and he can be really sweet.  He can also be a big hand full because he likes to pinch, bite, and pull hair.  He’s usually not angry when he does these things, and redirecting him to a different topic or activity usually helps a lot.  I hope it goes well with him.

I took a couple more pictures of my kids. 
Emerson is the sweetest and very affectionate. 

Francisca loves to run around and give hugs. 


Paty and Delmi love reading books and are really easy going.  It’s such a good group.

Another major event this week was finding out what houses we are going to live in and with which roommates.  I’m very excited for how this turned out as well.  I’m going to live in the house with Bianca, who is the mentor-ish type lady I mentioned earlier.  Then another older volunteer is there who is very sweet and easy to talk to.  Even if she’s on her way somewhere, she’s always stopped to chat with me and is always very encouraging.  My roommate is another middle aged German woman who is a doctor at the clinic.  She seems like a very calm and clean person.  I know that going home will be relaxing and this is so important after a day running around with kids.  I like all the other volunteers there too.  There are a few more Europeans, three Americans, and altogether 9 of us.  We also have a volunteer from Guatemala who is really nice and is a social worker.  I’m really excited because my house seems pretty serious about speaking in Spanish especially since the Guatemalan volunteer doesn’t know English or German.  Although it can get really frustrating, I know that sticking with Spanish as much as possible is the best way to soak up this experience.  The room I’m moving into still has the old volunteers so I’m planning on moving in next week.  I’m really looking forward to putting all my stuff away and not be digging through my luggage all the time to find things.

This past weekend was very chill.  Saturday a group of us went to Antigua to shop, stroll, and read in a coffee shop.  There’s one café I really like that I think will become my usual place.  It’s got that college town/European/American feel to it.  When I need a break from how everything is different than what I’m used to, I know I can go there.  Also, lucky for me, the NPH library has all the harry potter books in Spanish.  It’s been my goal (New Year’s resolution?) to both read in Spanish and read Harry Potter.  Since I’ve never read through the series, I think it will be fun.  I’m starting on the second book J  I can’t express how much I love libraries.

Until next week!

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