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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bienvenido a Larcacunga

While we are based in Otavalo, I will be working as a GVI intern in the small community of Larcacunga. Some of the volunteers also assigned to Larcacunga will be consistent throughout my placement while others will come and go. My role as intern is to support the volunteers in any way necessary, helping them with lesson plans, coordinating and communicating between the teachers, the volunteers, and the GVI program director, inducting new volunteers into the program, and generally providing support for the Larcacunga volunteers.

There are currently myself and five volunteers assigned to Larcacunga. The Larcacunga school is a national school with a school director and one teacher. There are apparently 44 or so kids on the roster, though this week we maxed out at about 34. Chicken pox is apparently a factor. The kids are aged 4 to 12 in grades one through seven. There are about 3 first graders, 8 second graders, 8 third graders, 8 fourth graders, 6 fifth graders, 2 sixth graders, and 8 seventh graders. There are two classrooms located in separate buildings. Grades 1 thru 3 share a classroom, and grades 4 thru 7 share a classroom. Our volunteers plan and deliver lessons each day to the first, second, and third graders while the teacher, Senorita Nancy, teaches the older grades. The director, Senorita Lucilla, floats between them all.

We (GVI) have only just recently re-entered this school and the teacher was also only recently hired so until about a month ago, the director was teaching all of the grades herself. This boggles my mind and as I was helping the seventh graders with long division on Tuesday, I tried to wrap my head around the fact that they had actually learned something like long division with only a seventh of the teachers attention on a daily basis.

A typical day puts me on a local bus at about 7am. The ride is about 20 minutes and takes me just outside the City to 4 Esquinas (the 4 corners). This is literally the end of the line where the bus turns around to head back into town and is located at the intersection of four dirt roads. From here, we walk for about a half an hour up one of the dirt roads (and I do mean up!) to get to school. Along the way, we pass lots of locals on their way down to either attend school in town or go to work or to the market or wherever. In this rural area, the folks are very friendly and we are always greeted with a Buenas Dias, as was the case in Guatemala, however here they say it one time for every person they meet! It is adorable. Some of the kids also want to shake all of our hands, and on one occasion a group of little boys gave us flowers. Too cute. This week, we had torrential rains for three of the five days and the climb was basically slugging through mud. I am enjoying the daily forced exercise routine though! On the one clear day we did have, the views were amazing and actually getting to see the lush green surroundings and the volcanoes and the valleys that surround the school was beautiful!

We, and the children from the surrounding ’acreages’ as I call them, arrive to school at about 8am. They are then served a drink of colada which kind of looks like warm milk only with a lot of sugar and sometimes some oatmeal in it. Classes get going at about 8:30 and run until 10:30, at which point lunch is served. The local moms take turns coming to school to prepare the lunch meal. The government supplies (usually, and especially now as it is election time) some staples such as rice and sugar and on occasion other interesting things like canned meatballs (??) and sardines (mmm mmm). GVI supplements the government food program, through the donations of the volunteers, with meat twice a week, lentils and fresh fruit and veg daily. On Monday afternoons we do a big shop for the week’s food at the outdoor market in Otavalo and on Tuesday mornings we ride up to school in the back of a pickup truck with all the groceries. Unfortunately it was raining this Tuesday morning…

Recreo after lunch lasts for about a half hour during which chasing the kids around is usually a big hit, not to mention nature walks which usually culminate with bouquets of flowers to be displayed proudly. Classes wrap up for the day at 1pm and we send the kids home with full bellies and a piece of fruit for the road.

The walk back down to Otavalo is again filled with greetings from the few people we pass. But this time it is “Buenas Tardes”.

No bodily functions stories, just thought I´d share a day in the life. Buenas Tardes :)

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