Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Projects for the year

WHO: Essa (aka Vanessa)
WHAT: Peace Corps, Environmental Education
WHERE: Nicaragua
WHEN: Sept '05 - Nov '07
WHY: La vida es un carnaval


Through the eyes of an 11-year-old

Joel, a neighbor kid of mine, knew I liked to go to the hot springs outside of town...so he and I planned an afternoon to go. However, he didn't know I liked to lounge around the water for a few hours like a cooked spaghetti noodle. He thought this was too boring (especially since the water was too hot for him to enjoy). So after 15 minutes of putting up with him whining, "Vamanos YA!" (Let's go already!), I finally gave him my camera, two sets of batteries and told him to take all the pictures he wanted. Here are some of his shots...

Man on the street

One of many carpinters in my neighborhood, Julio, poses with a rifle he's putting toghether for a client. It was the first one I've seen him work on, as mostly he displays bedframes, chests of drawers, and tables in his front year. But he says he sells a number of these every year.

What am I doing these days??
Back to school
School's back in session, so I've started back to the rural school as well. Here are some of the afterschool youth group kids all decked out in monster masks they made after we read, Donde Viven Los Monstros (Where the Wild Things Are).

New neighborhood reading group
I've started a reading group for some kids in a barrio near mine. Reading is not a Nicaraguan pastime (in large part because a fun book to read is hard to find around here), and any and all activities that promote reading among the youth are encouraged. They love story time...
Louis eats up story hour...he's quiet and shy and doesn't go to school since he lives on farm far away from a school. But he plans on coming to group while he's in the city spending a few months with his grandparents.

Esmaralda is the daughter of one of my friends from the neighborhood. I vist with her mother, Mina, on my way back from walks with Gueguense in the campo. Mina has a quick wit scarce around these parts, which, when I can keep up, leaves my face hurting from laughing so much.

This is 5-year-old Insolent Israel - his older sister gave him the nickname when we were playing a name-remember game (more for me than for them). I can't really understand what he says when he talks to me, but luckily all the other kids interpret for me.

Story hour at the library
I've also been working with the local library on trying to get a story hour going for primary age school kids in the city. So, the librarian and I visited about five different schools last week, and I read Clifford the Big Red Dog about 28 times to packed classrooms of 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders. We are hoping for a lot of participation and have set up a little reading room (apart from the study area) in the library.

The thesis
Finally, my evenings are filled with data processing as I've now got 3-months worth of well data from my thesis project. I'm trying to put together a presentation on my work so far for the local Dutch NGO that is supporting the work, the water utility (which has been drastically downsized since Ortega took power), the town hall, and the agricultural extension agency. Many thanks to my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers who are helping with the field work!
While doing all these activities, I'm finally really enjoying my time in Nicaragua. The first year was pretty tough adjusting to the culture, finding friends, and a place to belong. But, I think I've finally found contentment with it all (well, most of it). And now as I look at the calendar, I can only hope these last eight and a half months move m-o-l-a-s-s-e-s s-l-o-w. . .


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