Friday, April 15, 2011

A Week in Review

Friday, April 15, 2011 Journal Entry

Thought for the day: “Life is like a bowl of cherries – with all the pits!”

Barb did a week in review to see if we reached our goals. I believe the answer was yes from all. Charlie was recognized for his excellent work with a marzipan llama.

Last day – Bob and Charlie went to Center #2 while Mary and Barb stayed at Center #1. Charlie worked with the kids getting ready for our last day festival. Bob worked with the 2 year-olds learning words and drawing circles.

Barb created another work of art with the numbers 1 to 5. Mary sang with the kids and had a great day. At 10:30 a.m., they headed to Center #2 for our goodbye party with a stop at the store for some treats for the kids.

The party started with some nice words from Lily and a speech by our leader Barb. The little kids danced to music or should I say the teachers danced and the little ones moved some. The next group of older kids did a very nice dance for us. We really enjoyed it. The teachers performed an Ecuadorian folk dance next. At the end, they dragged all of us onto the floor (including Charlie) to dance with them.

Mary and Charlie asked the kids to sing Happy Birthday to Gary – Mary’s husband and Charlie’s dad. The kids sang in both Spanish and English. Charlie recorded it and emailed it to Gary.

Each of the volunteers received a figurine and a beautiful thank you card all decorated and framed. They also received an even larger thank- you card for the team decorated with flowers and handprints. Hugs and kisses and then back to Center #1 for final goodbyes there.

Last lunch and meal together – hamburgers, fries and ice cream. Charlie was a happy camper.

Final goodbyes for the teammates... It’s been a great week!

Signed: Volunteer Bob

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Life is like a mirror...

Thursday, April 14, 2011 Journal Entry

Thought for the Day: “Life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you.” – Charlie

We are the only ones at the hotel now so we had breakfast served to us. Our morning “jugo” had us all stumped and we were surprised to discover it was tomato juice.

Bob and Charlie went to Center 2 this morning in hopes of more work projects. In their efficiency, they put themselves out of work. They got to play with the children instead. Bob, aka, Richard Simmons, got his exercise dancing with the little ones. Charlie put his germ fetish aside and helped feed the babies.

Barb and I worked in Center #1 in our usual places. I was able to do a few extra activities with the children, like lacing yarn through holes in paper and reading, in an effort to keep them busy. The children behave quite well when they are engaged.

Barb got to exercise her inner artist today by making a poster of the vowels. She was the pawn in an art competition between the teachers! At least she didn’t have to draw any more dead chickens.

Lunch was soup (4 for 4, Chomp), rice, potatoes and meat. I think we’ve got the gist of the Ecuadorian food now. All that’s left is the guinea pig.

Barb and I joined the boys to see their handiwork. We may be some of the select few to ever view this sight. Barb and I were duly impressed. Charlie and Bob stayed at Center 2 and played with the kids and filed papers. Barb and I finished the day at Center 1. I taught the remaining children how to make paper airplanes and Barb engaged the ninos in a photo session.

The sky didn’t cooperate, yet again, so we weren’t able to go up the gondola to Pichincha. I guess we’ll have to come back to Quito on a clear day. Instead, we went back to the hotel for a rest before our celebratory dinner.

Martin picked us up at 6 p.m. He took us to a hoppin’ part of town called Mariscal and a restaurant called Mama Clorinda. I happily had a salad while Charlie got so involved in his dinner of ribs that he needed a bib. We were entertained by musicians while we ate and celebrated a week of work well done.

Written by: Volunteer Mary

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Full Day of New Sights, Tastes, Smells & Smiles!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 Journal Entry

Thought for the day: “All who wander are not lost.”

We started the day with a quick breakfast meeting and a taxi ride to Center 1 where Charlie and I stayed to work. Barb and Bob headed to Center 2 to prepare and purchase supplies for the tile project. Barb returned to Center 1 to work and Bob accomplished a great deal of trimming and weeding in the garden at Center 2.

I requested that we take the children out to the deck to play with balls. The tia in my group let us and the kids loved it! The boys particularly benefited from some running around. Sadly a few girls didn’t want to try playing and opted on sitting under a table. When the star on my soccer team kicked the ball over the fence, never to be seen again, we returned to our room.

The children are broken into groups by age. They start as young as five months and go until 5 years. Some of the tia’s own children come to work with them so I have a 6-year-old daughter in our group of fours and five.

They are learning about the cycle of life. Since there aren’t photocopiers available, we have been tracing pictures of the life cycle of plants & chickens for the children to work with. Today, they glued quinoa on the egg portion of the picture of a hatching chick.

The children follow lunch with a siesta. Since there is only so much space, they are lined up across the bed in a row. Siesta is our lunch time. We will eat at La Quinta every day and Charlie is laying odds that every meal will start with soup. So far, he’s two for two.

After lunch, we had a little time so we purchased a sweatshirt for Charlie and a new ball to replace the one that went missing in the morning soccer match. For a change of pace, we went to Center 2 and worked in the garden. The sun even made an appearance today so our walk over and back and the gardening was quite pleasant. Charlie had a bit of trouble because he tried coffee for the first, and possibly the last, time.

Walking to Center 2 is about a 10 to 15 minute walk through town. Center 2 feels more rural as it has outdoor space and abuts cornfields. Entering Center 1, however, one feels rather stealthy. It is hidden behind a barred gate in the outdoor food market, between two vegetable stalls. One must watch their step and head to safely arrive.

We finished our workday in Lily’s office with a game of ball with her 2-year-old daughter and met her 14-year-old son. .

Martin gathered us in his gray van in hopes of clear skies to ride the gondola up Pichincha. We were optimistic but the closer we got the darker the sky, until it finally opened up. As a consolation, we stopped at our favorite mall for lattes. With mixed feelings from the group, Martin decided to take us to the Old Town in Quito. Traffic was painfully slow, but we were able to see the beautiful streets lit at night.

As we visited a baroque church, the opulence of the interior, grand architecture, and the clear soprano left little impression for Charlie next to the excitement of detecting a potential pick-pocketer eyeing Bob. The streets were empty and the restaurants packed since Quito’s futbol team was playing on TV. We heard rhythmic banging as we awaited our dinner. I thought it might be Barb locked in the bano, but upon further discovery, there was a folk dance performance outside. We were able to watch a few dances with traditional dress, moves and music. We should have had another diploma for Bob as he tried (and enjoyed) goat!

On the way home, we had a quick stop at the main square for a photo shoot and view of the palace. We were able to see the basilica on our return, as well.

It was a full day – full of new sights, tastes, smells and smiles. I believe we are all enriched as a result and will sleep soundly. In face, everyone else already is so now it’s my turn. Good night!

Written by: Volunteer Mary

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day One in Quito

Journal Entry for Sunday, April 10

Team 140 to Ecuador gathered for breakfast at 9-ish in the charming dining room of Hotel Sol de Quito. Fresh fruit, croissants, eggs, blackberry juice – delicious.

Orientation commenced with hellos and a “getting to know you” session. We are a team that’s small in number – 4 – but big in energy, dedication and talent.

* Bob the engineer (my hubby) whose worst-ever job was picking strawberries and whose best job is his current consulting work.

* Charlie, age 13, a sports enthusiast who is discovering a new interest in math and who enjoys phy ed and his involvement in a community service club in his hometown (Woodside) near San Francisco.

* Mary (Charlie’s mom) is a dedicated teacher and homemaker who shared her journey from college to family with four kids with stops along the way in Australia and Switzerland. We later enjoyed hearing about her “horseback” journeys in South Africa and India. Wow! She’s also done the GV Peru program with one of her daughters. It’s a family tradition to take each child on a volunteer experience when he/she turns 13!

* I shared my background with newspaper work, GV, our terrific kid and more!

This was followed by reviews of Global Volunteers' policy – health and safety issues and a pleasant visit with Elvita, Pilar and Marujita, representatives of FUNDAC, our host organization, who described the work projects, the community of Calderon and more.

Then we commenced to team goals and team-building exercises. Our goals include: learning about the culture, land and people; serving the people and making a difference; and improving our Spanish.

We decided on the following Characteristics of a Good Team:

1. Not giving up and always trying hard in what we do.
2. Not complaining - having a positive attitude.
3. Respecting teammates’ needs and wants.
4. Communication.
5. Tolerance and respecting the local culture.
6. Diligence.
7. Working together well with the team and the local people.
8. Sense of humor.
9. Perserverance.
10. Having fun and enjoying ourselves.
11. Engagement – “being present” in the moment.
12. Flexibility.
13. Sharing a common vision and goals.

Martin Miranda visited us after lunch (chicken, rice, salad, soup- good!). He described possible free-time activities for our short week and he also assisted with a basic language session.

We wound up orientation around 3:30 p.m. or so and Martin kindly agreed to take us to Parque Carolina and the Reptile House. There we saw awesome snakes, turtles, frogs and iguanas. Charlie stuck his neck out and wore a “cobra scarf.” Brave guy!

Then we went to the park’s Botanic Garden. Lovely! I was so impressed with the lush foliage, the meandering stream with paddleboats and the gardens and more in this wonderful park!

Later we walked to Jardin Mall, a very sophisticated mall filled to the brim with families. Then back in the hotel, our dinner was delicious – flank steak, chicken cilantro soup and rice and veggies – all finished off with custard for dessert. Good company, good conversation, good night!

Signed – Team Leader Barb