We all just got back from a trip to the neighboring island of Lombok. Around 60 kids, volunteers, and staff members left on Friday and returned Sunday evening. It was an interesting adventure, to say the least. When we left, the staff had us load up into two big haul trucks (standing room only!) for the 40 minute commute. We took a ferry from Padang Bai, Bali, to Lombok. The ferry left at 9 pm and arrived around 3 am. There weren’t any beds on the boat, as was originally anticipated, but most kids and volunteers managed to fall asleep in the seats and on the benches. Those who didn’t feel like sleeping sang songs (John Legend – “All of Me” seemed to be the only one Tomi the Slukat volunteer wanted to sing. For five hours). After we got to Lombok, we went to the government building (? We still aren’t totally sure what that was about – but it was a nice building!) that was arranged for us to stay at and slept for a few hours. We then left the hotel for a day of sightseeing. We stopped at a Hindu temple to pray for a safe journey and then started our two hour drive to Sendang Gile, Lombok’s famous waterfall. We were lucky enough to have buses for transportation so we didn’t have to stand during the entire trip. When we got on the buses to leave for the day, the staff passed out plastic bags for people to throw up in. At that point, we probably should have known that the trip was going to be a bit tumultuous. About an hour after our stop at the temple, we stopped on the cliffs overlooking Senggigi Beach to have a (*spicy spicy*) traditional Indonesian brown bag lunch of rice, cassava, and a boiled egg with rice noodles. The rest of the drive to the waterfall went pretty much as planned, and we hiked down the 200-or-so steps to reach the waterfall. It was a cool sight, and the cooler temperatures were much appreciated by all. All the kids broke out their selfie-sticks and had a great time.
We were unaware that air conditioning on a charter bus in such a hot place could be optional, and learned about it the hard way… One of the buses did not have any air flow, let alone air conditioning, which became problematic after the climb up the stairs from the waterfall. The other bus (which originally had air flow) broke down twice. After the first time, the air conditioning stopped working and then the air flow stopped completely. Both buses were a bit sweaty, to say the least!
Most of the kids had little to no experience on a bus, so their stomachs did not handle the long, windy drive very well. We figured this much out: Curvy roads + extreme heat = busses full of kids passing out and/or vomiting. Our stomachs are all a bit stronger from the experience.
The trip to the waterfall was originally supposed to take 5 hours. With the bus breaking down so many times, it ended up taking around 10. The plan had been for us to arrive at Jagat Nata temple to share in a traditional full moon prayer ceremony. One of the buses arrived only 2 hours late, and the other arrived about 2.5 hours late. The students showed the Nourish team how Hindus pray (be on the lookout for our next blog post, featuring an entry from one of our students in the advanced English class explaining how Hindu prayer is completed!). We all loaded back on the buses to head back to the government building where we were staying. By the end of the day, everyone was exhausted. We had dinner at one of Lombok’s night markets around 10 pm (so cheap! About $2USD for a bowl of Mie Goreng and a fresh banana juice), and everyone crashed afterwards.
On Sunday, we went shopping with the kids. They were able to get an abundance of clothing and food souvenirs, which they were very excited about. Afterwards, we got back onto the ferry. We were originally all on the top level, which does not have a roof, but extreme rain showers forced us back indoors. When we got back on Bali, the rain had stopped and we loaded up into the haul trucks again. We got a nice surprise halfway back to Slukat: MORE RAIN! It was not a normal amount of rain that we are used to back in Idaho, however. It rained so hard that the streets flooded and everyone was soaked to the bone by the time we got to Slukat. Annie, Hailey, Dineka, and Tim were very excited to get inside and put dry clothes on. Courtney, Lydia, and Lauren decided a rain dance was in order and proceeded to play in it for awhile once we got back.
Overall, it was quite the trip. The kids told us that they had a lot of fun. It was most everyone’s first time leaving the island of Bali, so it was great to see them travel and achieve things that they normally wouldn’t. We got to bond with them a lot, so relations at the learning center are better than ever. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check back for our next blog post!
Dineka, Hailey, Annie, Tim, Courtney, Lauren, and Lydia.
Here is IU Nourish checking in for the week of May 26 through June 1! The third week in Panajachel, Guatemala was a success. We are finally getting in the groove of our work schedule, and our community garden has made a large transition in just one week!
Because we only worked in the garden in San Antonio on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Monday was filled with office work. We have each been given assignments that allow us to contribute to the project in a “behind the scenes” way. As we are all learning, the behind the scenes work is some of the most important types of work. Nothing happens without the research, funding, paperwork, and loads of excel spreadsheets!
Sam has been working on finding the variety of seeds that we want to plant and where we could find donations of seeds. She is now a qualified seed expert, according to the rest of us who lack that knowledge entirely.
Jenn’s research has been focused on finding tips and tricks for organic farming, specifically in Guatemala. Now that she has mastered that, she (along with Sam and Marija) is working on creating education materials that could be given to the women of San Antonio. One of the things that we have learned about working on a pilot project is that we want to create a project that, if successful, can be replicated. So their focus is to make simple pamphlets that contain educational information regarding organic gardening, nutrition, or health that can be given to anyone, if was used again.
Danielle and Annie worked all week to create ways to monitor and evaluate the project. They geeked out on Excel spreadsheets and finally created a simple, yet effective way, way to keep track of the project in qualitative and quantitative ways.
Unfortunately, the soil that was supposed to be delivered to the garden on Tuesday, was not. As Wednesday rolled around, no soil again. We are learning to use patience, something we were told we’d be tested on. We are also learning the concept of “Guatemalan time” — time efficiency is not a strong suit.
Thursday we were not able to spend in garden because of torrential downpours in the morning. The raining season has just begun and it is hitting hard. We spent Thursday continuing our research, utilizing the wifi in the Mayan Families building, and various internet cafés around town.
On Friday, some of our group went to Mayan Families home and watched a documentary called Living On One. It was about a few guys who decided to live in Guatemala, and could only use $1 dollar/day (hence the title…kinda self-explanatory). The documentary portrayed the mental, physical, and spiritual effects that group thought was very eye-opening and interesting.
Then of course it was the weekend!!! Our group, plus the Virginia Tech Nourish group (our roommates) headed to Antigua for the weekend. It was one of the most beautiful towns we had seen thus far and we loved every minute of it. Whether we were sightseeing, eating crepes, or watching live music in the square; we wish it could have lasted forever.
Unfortunately this week, one of our members returned back home to the states for school. As sad as we were to see Ciara go back home, we gained another member. Keira is now officially with us, straight off the plane from Israel! She met us in Antigua, ready to work and see this beautiful country.
Week 3, even with the bumps in the road regarding the garden and weather, was another amazing week in Guatemala. We are drinking lots of cafe and are still learning so much. Can’t wait to see what the next few weeks have in store for us!
The IU Nourish team has successfully made our way to Panajachel and made it through our first week! For three out of the seven days we were here, we made our way to San Antonio, where we will be building a community garden for the pre-school and its mothers. Although the plot seems small, we believe that we will be able to maximize the space in order to provide the community a beautiful, productive garden.
Becky, one of the project organizers with Mayan Families, has described the way in which she plans to arrange the garden. We want to terrace the three beds to protect the gardens from erosion from the heavy rainfall that occurs during this season. We will create one narrow bed closer to the trees, another larger bed lower on the mountainside, and on the side of those two beds, is a square bed in which we might plant herbs. We would want to incorporate the banana trees and coffee plants in the back into the garden. They would help stop the soil erosion and create the Circle of Bananas, which is a good way to compost the area. The building in the very back would be used as a shed; its top would be used as another bed.
On the second day, we began to clean up the space and found a little help. Two boys, who live in San Antonio, were curious about our work and aided with the weeding and cleaning. With their help, we finished early .
Our last day in San Antonio, we met the mothers, who will aid in the creation of the garden and keep it going once our Nourish team leaves. It surprised us that so many mothers were interested in participating in the garden; furthermore, we are excited to work with them and maybe learn a little bit of Kaqchikel, their native language, along the way.
When we were not working in San Antonio, we were making friends in the Mayan Families base in Pana. The kids at the pre-school are learning Spanish so that they can advance quickly in school when they reach first grade in public school.
Adios, IU Nourish Team!
Hi from the IU Nourish Team!
We are so excited to get on the plane for Guatemala and get started on our project! For some of us it is going to be our first time out of the country and we are a little nervous, but excited. We feel prepared and confident in our abilities to make a lasting change on the community in Pana. We look forward to meeting our Virginia Tech partners and the Mayan Families volunteers we will be working with.
Will we get any sleep tonight??? Updates to come.
Here’s to safe travels, adventure, and the rainy season.
The IU Team
Final blog post! We’ve been back from Guatemala for quite some time now, but the memories and experiences still seem so fresh! We set out to provide supplemental education to country who desperately needs a way out of their unfortunately rough economical situation. Obviously we didn’t single handedly accomplish this but I definitely think we had a positive impact on it.
The IU chapter along with UTK integrated ourselves into the UPAVIM school alongside the other volunteers down there and really got an educational movement stirring. Even at the end of six weeks these kids were transformed tremendously and we have confidence that even though we’re no longer down there they will continue to grow and hopefully be able to shed some light on what seemed to be a pretty dark community.
The poverty definitely shows through their tough exteriors. Crime and violence was definitely eye-opening and we envision a place where these children grow up and bring money back to their community and this abomination of injustice will no longer prevail.
Aside from teaching we really got close with the team of volunteers, Guatemalan teachers, as well as people from the community. It was definitely hard leaving them all behind. We’ve stayed in contact pretty well and always look forward to any news they can give us about the school or the kids.
Well that’s all for this project! We are all looking forward to what Nourish has in store for us next year.
Well the two chapters (Indiana University and University of Tennessee) have finally merged as one supporting unit for these Guatemalan children. Our first week together was spent acclimating and getting into the groove of things. We have decided to divide and conquer this project by placing ourselves in different environments and areas based off of the skill sets we have as individuals. We are thrilled to get the opportunity to enhance the education of these children, but at the same time create these relationships simultaneously to build better connection and trust so they can understand our purpose for being there as well as grasp what we are trying to achieve together. The challenge we’ve come to face is understanding that the Guatemalan lifestyle isn’t exactly that which we live. More specifically we’ve noticed that their perception on education and other things differ from what we originally thought. However we’ve overcome this cultural barrier and believe we can better understand their mindset which allows us to provide a more enjoyable experience. We’ll keep posted on the progress.
IU and UTK
It is the night before our flight to Guatemala, and we could not be more excited! After weeks of planning and discussing our goals for this trip, the time has finally come! Although it might be difficult to leave our home, family, and friends behind, we cannot wait to experience the amazing moments we will spend there. We will have the opportunity to immerse ourselves within the culture and grow throughout the process, so hopefully we can bring back some valuable knowledge when we return. We are so grateful for this wonderful opportunity!
Time to make a positive impact in some people’s lives!
-The UTK Family
We survived our first week of classes! This week was not a normal week. They spent majority of the week getting ready for their Mother’s Day celebration! Mother’s day here is like Christmas. Actually every holiday is like Christmas here, including birthdays. They go all out for every single event. Both the English and Guatemalan teachers taught their kids songs and dances for them to perform for their mothers today. The kids dressed to the nines and gave their moms gifts that they had made by hand. Because of the holiday the kids do not have school tomorrow and will get to hang out with their moms all day!
We decided that the best way for you to understand what we are doing is for each of us to share a personal experience that we had this week.
Carli- I have already learned a ton in these first three days! The classrooms here, in Guat, are nothing like the classrooms in the US. The structure is different entirely and the kids are at different levels. Here it is not rude to interrupt and it is just loud in general. I went in expecting the kids to listen to me and do the worksheets we gave them, but this is not what happened. I realized the kids need one-on-one attention and when I would give it to them they actually were learning how to write in English. I try to speak to them only in English so that they become familiar with the language. I also have a new respect for all teachers! I am completely wore out by the end of the day! After this week I know how the classroom is structured and how the kids respond to certain styles of teaching. I am hoping to brain storms some new ways of teaching for next week and see how the kids respond!
Colt- Well..to get started I’m working with children not in the UPAVIM school kindergarten to 6th grade. These children only speak Spanish which has definitely enhanced my Spanish speaking abilities. I am currently teaching topics ranging from language to mathematics at every grade level. This was a lot easier said than done, because I had to learn the topics myself in Spanish from my co-instructor Raquel the morning of each lesson and all of the corresponding vocabulary. Examples being like finding area and perimeter of shapes like parallelograms, rhombus, and trapezoids , exponents and factorization, or even easy concepts such as subject and predicates! I could obviously teach these in English, but Spanish was a whole new experience; a positive one though. The kids are really responsive to our teaching and definitely benefit from it, so it makes it all worth it. I cannot wait to actually be apart of helping Raquel build the curriculum for the upcoming weeks. I’ll keep you guys posted on future successes and challenges.
Me (Mykala)- I have the absolute best job ever! I work with the Preschoolers and the Kindergartners teaching them English. In the morning we go to the two Preschool classrooms for a half hour each and sing songs that teach kids words that have to do with family and emotions. The kids absolutely adore us! Then in the afternoon we are in the Kindergarten class for three hours straight. We do a variety of English things that include stations, like math, library and house, singing songs and coloring. These kids are sooo smart!! I speak English the whole time and they understand majority of what I am saying, it is amazing!! They love the attention that they get when they get it right too. These kids seriously make my day everyday! They are so sweet! Also a thing with these kids is that they are sooo affectionate. When they leave they give you kisses on the cheek and hugs! Sweetest things in the world! Next week I know what to expect so I can go in more prepared and ready to teach!!
To all our mothers back in the states, we want to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day and we miss you!!
Hola todos! (Hello all!)
We arrived in Guatemala City around 11:30 am their time. Which is on Mountain time for those of you that don’t know. This is two hours behind our normal Indiana time. We survived customs without being searched and all our bags arrived with us! This is a great way to start off our trip. Laura, our contact here at UPAVIM, picked us up form the airport in a taxi. With all our luggage we had two seats left and 4 people….it was very cozy. We had to sit on laps and squeeze in tight. As we were driving through the city to our destination, it was felt like we were watching a movie, but we were the actors. This is totally new ground for all of us so it was very surreal. We got to the school about a half hour drive later and met all the volunteers that we will be working with while we are here. We were introduced to our room which has three beds, some dressers and some plants. Our rooms are on the roof and we have a little garden outside our room next to the clothes lines.
After we got ourselves acquainted with our surroundings, we traveled by bus to the local supermarket. The buses are free here so everyone has access to them and they can pack them pretty tight. Luckily for us, ours was not that packed. First things first, we had to exchange our money for their local currency, Quetzales. Then we headed to the supermarket, which much to our surprise was not much different than our local ones at home. With a little guidance and translation from one of our UPAVIM volunteers, Mariah, we were able to successfully purchase some basic necessities. Upon our arrival back to UPAVIM, we had black bean chili that was prepared by one of the other volunteers. During dinner we discussed what our roles will be while we are here.
As of now, Colt will be working in the “Raforest”, where he will be helping tutor and provide supplemental learning to kids ages K-6th grade. Most of these students are from other local schools and attend this free program after they get out of their school. Carli will be helping the English program for kids in grade 1st-6th. In the mornings, they work on reading and in the afternoon they focus on conversational English. I, Mykala, will be working with the Preschool and Kindergarten kids. We will be working on jump starting their English language skills.
Tomorrow morning we will be starting our first real day here and so excited to be immersed in the school and their daily routine. We look forward to sharing our first day experiences with you sometime soon!
Buenos Noche! (Good Night!)