Giggling girls at school in Colombia - 2013
Giggling girls at school in Colombia - 2013
“Mentors build leadership skills, confidence, and gain volunteer experience. The young students are able to ask questions of peers and build positive relationships.”
Peace Corps Volunteers are working in Mongolia to promote a partnership between two local non-governmental organizations focused on volunteerism and mentorship among Mongolian youth. They’ve teamed up with an organization that prepares young Mongolian students to study abroad, and collaborated with a community youth center. By bringing their individual projects together, they implemented a volunteering program that gives young adults the opportunity to mentor children and lead activities at the youth center.
Today our Youth in Development team took advantage of a special opportunity to work with PC Guate’s Food Security Coordinator. With her guidance, we helped students from Segundo and Tercero Básico classes (7th & 8th grade) to make tire gardens in the afternoon.
As you can see above, we used a seriously sharp knife to cut handles into the tire and then flipped it inside-out to fill it with sticks, a piece of tarp, and a mix of soil, sand, and compost. Students chose organic seeds from a variety of native vegetables (i.e. guicoy, amaranth, onion, chipilín, chia, spinach). One example garden was made with a tire while the rest were prepared in containers the students already had at school. We were able to cut and flip eight tires for future use.
The activity was truly fun for everyone! Our group had lots of laughs while trying to flip the tire and I believe the message was powerful for the students. By up-cycling old tires and repurposing compressed dirt from containers behind the school, they could engage in more environmentally conscious behaviors and practices. As Trainees, we are now excited to see how an activity like this - that only takes a couple hours to do - can be a great way to facilitate a segue into other topics such as teamwork, responsibility, and sustainability.
I don’t know what it is about kids and the Peace Corps, in general, but I have the personal, but not always shared opinion that children are a volunteer’s best friend. As you’ve seen already, I have had the opportunity to befriend several kids so far. They help you adjust to volunteer life in so many ways. So far this guy, Erbol which means “be a man” in Kyrgyz, has been a source of laughs as of late. He has many different faces and is passionate about everything. His favorite word/noise is “da-dong!!” which is a sound effect for pretty much everything he does. The best is when he runs to go kiss his baby brother on the cheek, and then takes his tiny baby hand to punch everyone within punching distance.
A Girls’ Empowerment Conference in Tanzania where participants learned about life skills, gender issues, sex positivity, and women’s health.
I taught my Form One’s their first geography lesson today. I’m not sure if they learned geography in primary school, so maybe it was their first geography lesson ever.
To start, I had them draw a map of the world in their exercise books. The results were… interesting. Haha. I mean, they don’t see images constantly like kids growing up in America do… they don’t watch TV, they have limited textbooks, etc. So most of them didn’t really know what it was supposed to look like. Some of them just drew a map of Malawi, which I thought was interesting.
Anyway, one popular Peace Corps activity undertaken by volunteers is the World Map Project. I am definitely going to try and do this at my school with my new geography students. By the end of this term these kids will KNOW that America is not in Europe.
As a librarian, I was particularly tickled to hear about Peace Corps Volunteer Karri Stout’s endeavor to establish a library at a school in a small African village in Tanzania. Education and access to information are important developmental tools everywhere in the world.
Of course, this young lady wasn’t just thinking of a standard library, but a bilingual library that would serve students as well as adults living in the village of Utelewe. For the 2013 school year, the school has 342 students enrolled; a library serving this many children will improve literacy rates, and can have a far-reaching impact on their lives.
If you know me in the slightest bit you know I love working with kids. I’ve been a nanny and a summer camp counselor for most of my life and absolutely love the feeling of getting to act like a child again and be ridiculously silly. For the past month, I’ve been working at an elementary school teaching 3rd and 4th graders English, and will be doing so throughout the rest of my service here in China.
The thing I’m loving the most about teaching these kids, besides getting to do the hokey pokey, sing songs, and do arts and crafts, is that they bring me a sense of familiarity. Here in China it’s hard to find many similarities between home (America) and my now, home away from home (Nan’Shan). But these little kids are the one thing that is similar and it’s refreshing. They love to ask questions, they love to help me with my Chinese, they love to dance and giggle and run around, they’re still so innocent and without a care in the world. Being around them brings me so much joy and I can’t wait to continue working with them, to play with them, and watch them grow.