About jas12m

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6/18/14

So last weekend I went to the hospital for my mango allergy. The hospitals here are much different than in the United States. You don’t usually go straight into a general emergency room, you go with a specialist. Thankfully they had someone who spoke English there, because my Spanish wouldn’t have been good enough to communicate what was wrong.  It was actually much easier health care than what’s provided in the US, though, which I was somewhat surprised (but also relieved about).  However, now I’m fine, and my face is all cleared up! 🙂  I also traveled to Nindiri and did some more sightseeing because I went to the hospital during my weekend.  My evening lessons that I teach to the woman have become a bit more lackluster. I find that she doesn’t always come when she says she will, but I don’t think it’s actually like people consider that to be very rude here like we do in the States.  So I just help her when she does come, and try to make sure I’m available during the time slot that she’s signed up for, because I’d absolutely hate if she did show and no one was here for her.  I also know she’s very busy- I asked her what her typical daily schedule during a conversation lesson and I found that she works 11 hours a day as a maid, goes to university on the weekends, and also has a husband and young son to take care of at home.  Classes with the younger kids are getting progressively better. I’ve continued with my taekwondo lessons, and it seems like the girls actually take it better than the boys do, which was also surprising. The boys don’t ever want to participate and would prefer to play baseball because they don’t think taekwondo is a sport, but the girls really like it. I think it might be because this is a slower, more concentrated sport, where you have to focus and actually use a lot of muscle memory.  However, I’ve figured out that I can continue giving taekwondo lessons to the girls on Wednesdays because the boys are all gone to play baseball on those days anyways, so it works out. I’d rather continue giving lessons to the kids that actually want to learn rather than kids who don’t. 

We also got two new volunteers this week, Marlies from Holland and Dawn from Scotland.  They don’t know any Spanish at all, so I guess I’m the second-best Spanish speaker here of the volunteers. Atelier Favela is going through an awkward transition right now in regards to administration.  The person who used to teach capoeira to the older group left a few months ago because he was Sabine’s partner (Sabine is the head of Atelier Favela).  However, since they’ve separated, the older group has four former students who have become instructors.  Sabine is also leaving to go to Holland for two months.  She said her goodbyes last night. John (the former capoeira instructor) asked the students if they would like him to come in every other week to teach, but they were relatively hostile because he’d made a similar promise before and hadn’t followed through.  So currently, there is one student/person in charge (Silvana) who only speaks Spanish, and the four volunteers, where two of us have an intermediate level of Spanish (me and Cheney). The younger kids are easier to work with in this setup, however the older ones who practice capoeira are less optimistic, and I don’t really blame them.  They feel kind of abandoned because they’re practicing for no reason almost, and have no one to further their education in the art. I don’t really know if there’s anything I can specifically do to make it better either, and honestly there’s probably not.

I also taught my first child today, which I was extremely nervous about since I’m not fluent in Spanish.  But it went very well! I made a fantastic decision in bringing my Spanish textbook and it’s been really helpful. I’m thinking it’s a very real possibility that I will learn Spanish, at least on a more conversational level, by the end of the summer.

I’m also going with Cheney to talk about Atelier Favela to recruit more volunteers at a local university today. It will be a presentation in Spanish with like, 3 other organizations in Nicaragua where we will be speaking almost all Spanish.  

This weekend I also went traveling to Leon and stayed in a hostel. I got heat stroke though and fainted on the bus, which was tons of fun. I guess at least next time I’m in the sun I’ll hopefully build a tolerance to it and get used to it. I guess ’til next time~

Abrazos! 

   

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My first week in Nicaragua!

Hello all! So I didn’t write a pre-departure post- I was dealing with some stuff with my family, (which I would rather not talk about) but I will cover both my pre-departure anxieties and my first week here in this post. Once the spring semester ended, I was just working, finishing up saving to go on this trip. I managed to fund myself through vigorous fundraising and several jobs at a time. I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to do this, and as I was waiting to go, it really never fully felt real until I first started saying my goodbyes.  Leaving Tallahassee is always really hard for me.  I love school, and I love Florida State. I have never felt more at home than when I started attending classes and living there full-time. But I have promised myself that I would also take advantage of all the opportunities FSU had to offer, including those of travel (well, especially travel).  So I said farewell to the comforts of knowing exactly what I was doing in my favorite city, Tallahassee, my boyfriend, and took a Greyhound bus down to Tampa a month after the semester ended and went straight for the airport.
I arrived in Managua, Nicaragua on Sunday at 12:50pm, which is a two hour difference.  I was immediately tested with my Spanish (which is so-so) when I arrived as I was going through customs and got my passport stamped. My host organization, Atelier Favela, had sent one of their cab drivers to come and get me, and I met Alfonso outside. From there, my confidence grew in using the language. I was able to have a conversation in full Spanish! Granted, my grammar was very weak, but we were understanding each other. Soon I was in Ticuantepe, which is where I’m staying. The house that the volunteers stay in is also where we teach.  There are 7 bunk beds in one room for the volunteers, a kitchen, a studio-styled room for the athletics classes, an outside class, and a living area.  There is no AC, so all the windows are open throughout the house.  There are 4 desktops in the living room for the students to use, and one of them is hooked up to the Internet.  The second day I went exploring in Grenada, one of the more touristy areas nearby.  I had several experiences with little boys begging, not only for money, but for the food or drink I had in my hand. It was nothing like I was used to. I ended up saying no, which was relatively difficult (this was a decision I had made before leaving if I was going to face this type of thing).  The next day classes started.  There were lots of children, and I was struggling a lot with Spanish.  I offered to teach taekwondo classes (I’m a blue belt), but my lack in Spanish hindered their progress. I’m really glad I brought my Spanish textbook so I can continue studying it.  However, I think that my struggle (and hopefully my progress later on) is worth noting. I may center my capstone in a comparison photovoice recording their progress with taekwondo, along with capollera (Brazilian martial arts form common here).  I also teach a woman going to a local university who’s working to learn English.  She wants to work at a call center as a translator. As I’ve explored more in Managua this weekend, a lot of people who are of higher social economic status know English, but the majority of people only know Spanish. We also had a party for the children’s day on Thursday, where we played duck, duck, goose (or pato, pato, ganso) and musical chairs. I am also working to learn capollera everyday. I have also found out I’m highly allergic to mangoes, which is really awkward because they’re an extremely common fruit here. More volunteers will be coming throughout this month.  I’ve been too busy this past week to really be sad or miss anything from home, but today’s my day off and I have to say I miss my boyfriend and my sisters a lot.  I’m assuming as time goes on and I continue being busy it won’t be a problem, but if I’m sad about anything, it’s that. Otherwise, I’m having the time of my life out here, despite the mosquito bites, allergic reaction on my face, and struggle to learn Spanish. I appreciate a lot of things in the US, but I also appreciate the way of life here.