First two weeks with PTFprint story
May 28, 2012
I've been living in Arequipa for a little over two weeks now, and I've already grown and learn so much. It hasn't been limited to learning Spanish or the city, but just about how to be independent in a new country and appreciate the culture.
Working with the chiquitos at the PTF library has been amazing! I head to a school 6 days a week to work at an after- school library program in a poor area of Arequipa called Villa Santa Rosa. The curriculum focuses on literacy and reading comprehension, creativity, and we’re starting English next week. PTF previously provided volunteers during school hours, but just recently they’ve moved volunteers to working solely in the library (although they still financially support the kids’ food and supplies at the school). I’ve been working with the chiquitos (the little ones, 5-7), and I’m loving it so far! It’s so encouraging to see how appreciative and enthusiastic they are to be at school. Many of the kids don’t get a lot of attention at home, so it seems like the library is a haven for them to learn, play, and be given praise. Leading arts and crafts activities for the classes has definitely been a highlight so far— I get to work those creative muscles that are so bleeeehhhh during the school year. So far we’ve made recycled toilet paper roll binoculars, parachute men, puppets, and this week is paint blowing (painting in groups using straws)!
The community is called Villa Santa Rosa or Chiguata; the houses don’t have running water and most are just four brick walls and a rickety tin roof— but, they’re slowly working and digging to getting running water into the homes, woohoo! Here are pictures of Adali, Groberth, and Liz playing on the swing set bars; one of my chiquitas, Melissa, playing at recess, and an awesome view of the Misti Volcano behind the school! Groberth, the little one on the left on the bars has been special to me since I’ve started working at the library. He was the first kid that I saw reading alone on my first day, so I sat down and started talking with him. I immediately noticed that he had difficulty reading and was possibly behind for his age, but it wasn’t until later that I discovered that he was considered a high- need student who needs to work one-on-one. It’s taken a couple weeks, but I think I’m starting to earn Groberth’s trust and he’s opening up me a little more, which makes reading time much more successful. I can’t wait to see how much he grows in the months until I have to say goodbye. Also, I must say that it’s been awesome getting to know the volunteers of PTF; all awesomely passionate and generous people that have sacrificed much of their time and energy to working towards a noble cause, all unpaid!!
Otherwise, life here in Arequipa has been pretty awesome. It’s refreshing to get away from the structure and uniformness and homogeneity of where I was living in the States. There’s so much history to Arequipa and you can see it so clearly everywhere. Although a good part of the city isn’t fabulous and outwardly beautiful, every pocket of the city has a unique charm to it. From what I’ve collected from the people who live here, it’s the kind of city that brings people back again and again.
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