Posts Tagged With: Kids’ Club

Why Curious George is My Hero and Other Short Stories

“The simple life is one in which there is always time to remember the divine purpose behind each of our tasks, time to listen for a possible divine amendment to the day’s schedule, and time to be thankful for the divine presence at each moment of the day.” – Lloyd Lee Wilson

 April 12, 2014

Because this blog is as much a diary for me as it is entertainment and cultural exchange for you, I’m including some short, random, unrelated stories here that I don’t want to forget.

 

Curious George book from my local Paraguayan elementary school  ("Jorge el Curioso" in Spanish)

Curious George book from my local Paraguayan elementary school (“Jorge el Curioso” in Spanish)

Curious George is my hero. Especially today. Known in Spanish as Jorge el Curioso, I have fond memories of my brother devouring every Curious George book available. He even had a stuffed monkey with a plastic mouth to whom I used to try to feed bananas and Cheerios. Last year while living with my host family I was delighted to find Jorge el Curioso in the local school library and brought it home to practice my Spanish. While preparing for today’s Kids’ Club I thought it would be fun to read this book to them. Reading is not popular in PY and I have never seen or heard children being read to by their parents in the 19 months I’ve been here. When I suggested the idea to the kids, they eagerly agreed as if I’d just offered them an entire cookie jar. As we sat on the floor together I was aware of them inching closer, even the teenagers, completely enveloped in the story like a group of kindergarteners. Some of them quietly read along with me and helped when I stumbled over a complicated Spanish word. Occasionally, I would pause and ask if they were enjoying it. “Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!” they replied, brimming with enthusiasm and smiles. We kept going. As a mother who read to her child every night for years, it made me sad to think this might be the very first time an adult has ever read a book to these children (ages 7-15), but I hope it sparked a desire to do it on their own in their homes as well, just for fun. Either way, it was a huge hit and we’ll definitely be doing it again!!!! Plus, check out the animal crafts we made from toilet paper rolls. Tigers, owls, cats and a pirhana, oh my!

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What’s with Ws? Because the Spanish language generally doesn’t use the letter ‘w’ except in names (like Wendy) and rarely do words end with the letter ‘d’ (like ‘ward’), Paraguayans have a difficult time saying and spelling my name. Here are some actual examples I’ve seen or heard during my service: Buendi, Guendi, Wendía, Wendy Wart. The kids love to call me Wendía and it’s always accompanied by giggles because it sounds like ‘Buen dia’ which is an abbreviated version of ‘Buenos Dias’ or ‘good morning.’

 

Still laughing as I write this. Back in March during our vacation in Argentina my friends and I returned to the hostel from grocery shopping (where we almost got robbed) and they asked me for a lesson in cooking meat because some had been vegetarians or never had much experience cooking meat before now. In the hostel’s spacious kitchen, I donned my best Julia Child’s accent and proceeded to flail and instruct with an overdose of enthusiasm. They responded in kind, including some occasional, accidental words in a Spanish or Guarani, until we laughed so hard it felt like we’d just finished a Jillian Michael’s workout, and our accents somehow morphed from French to Irish to Southern to unidentifiable. Later we took our wine poolside (we did our own fun ‘wine tastings’ at the hostel with two new wines every night) and shared our answers to my infamous “100 questions”, designed to get to know others at a deeper level. The 100 questions accompany us on every vacation or extended outing. Since it takes time for four people to answer each question thoughtfully, sometimes with curious or loving inquiry from supportive girlfriends, there’s a question of whether or not we’ll actually finish them all before our service ends in December! Super fun night bonding and making good memories with friends.

 

My morning runs usually take me east directly into the sunrise, a great incentive to start the day early. This morning the sky was 360 degrees beautiful so I ran west for a different perspective. Down the sole road onto the prairie I witnessed a breathtaking sky kissed with pastels of pink, blue and mint green, a thin fog floating over the vast grassland and hugging the base of the forested hills, and the golden spray of the day’s new sun yawning its warming light up and over the treeline. The goal was a morning run for my health. The outcome was sheer bliss for the soul.

 

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Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

Categories: Peace Corps Paraguay | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Rainy Days

“Being guided isn’t like making a cake, where you mix it up and sit back until it’s baked. It’s more like dancing with a partner. If you’re not following continual subtle motions, you aren’t being led…” – Julie Shaul

 

April 11, 2014

 

A real humdinger of a rain/thunderstorm that lasted all night and through the morning resulted in dozens of caterpillary-worms (gusanos) crawling under my door searching for dry land. Outside this morning I watched as they crept over the edge of the tiled patio then swam through puddles on the floor toward the house. After smooshing a few dozen, I went back inside to make coffee and upon hearing footsteps, I turned around to find my neighbor’s bull already head and shoulders through the door looking for shelter too. I got a dirty, disgruntled look after telling him there was no vacancy and shooing him out with a broom (expletives might have been involved). The door will stay closed until further notice. (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.) The upside was that the frogs are exquisitely happy with all the rain and have been singing a beautiful chorus of song since midnight. Plus it makes for good storytelling. And while I do love the occasional ‘indoors day’ which provides downtime for planning, reading, studying or alone time, I am disappointed that the rain will cancel today’s Women’s club and likely tomorrow’s Kids’ Club (rain here in the campo is like a big snow day in Maine where everything closes). The kids have asked me every day for the past five days if we are having Kids’ Club and English class this weekend because they really look forward to it. How can I say no to kids who are so open and eager to learn? That kind of excitement and engagement is what makes my service so fulfilling! When you listen and let life guide you, you can’t go wrong.

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A Pair of Clubs

March 3, 2014

“I want you to protect and covet the gifts of love you have to share and to trust your soul enough to let it lead you.” – Meggan Watterson, REVEAL – A Sacred Manual for Getting Spiritually Naked

I was super psyched and especially proud of the ladies this week. Up until this point, I normally drive the Women’s Club meeting, asking for activity ideas for next time, reminding them to set the next date, preparing a snack, etc. But now they are starting to do more of these things themselves, which is exactly what we want to ultimately make this activity sustainable and ensure they continue learning and having fun after my service finishes in December. It feels good to know they’re enjoying it enough to make sure it doesn’t end!

Our ice breakers tend to be loads of laughs. Perhaps you’ve done some of these yourself? One consisted of taping the name of a famous person to each lady’s back and having her guess the name by asking questions of the other ladies in the room  (Is my person male? Female? In Paraguay? Europe? Religious figure? Celebrity? Singer? Futbolista? Etc). Another was called “Sorts” where I call out 2 words, one for each side of the room, and the ladies sort themselves based on their preferences. For example, stand on the right side of the room if you like Team Cerro, or the left if you like Team Olimpia. Other contrasts included radio vs TV, salt vs sugar, asado (BBQ) vs mandio chyryry but the one that was sure to bring down the house I saved for last. With dramatic pause I announced dessert vs sex. The room erupted into giggles and slaps on each others’ backsides. Game over. Mission accomplished. Let the meeting begin.

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Ladies of the Club de Mujeres trying to guess the name of the famous person taped to their backs.

I’m also excited that the local nurse is really interested in joining us and doing a health-related talk each time. This is much needed in my community and of great interest to me personally. She talks about nutrition, diabetes, exercise and preparing great snacks, and I back her up on the importance for exercise by doing a short dance or yoga class. Because the ladies have been specifically asking how to whittle their midriffs I taught them how to do planks this week and, as encouragement to practice at home, I announced The Great 60-day Plank Challenge. On May 2 the ladies will compete to see who can hold a plank the longest (the original proposal was that they had to hold it longer than me but they shot me down and wanted to compete against themselves. Ok, that’s probably more fair.) Winner gets a liter of my highly-coveted jasmine honey. If you think that’s not much of a prize you don’t know how much Paraguayans love their honey. There might be bloodshed (just kidding on that last part.) They practiced getting horizontal right then and there. Here’s a plank highlighting the muscles it works, perfect for core strengthening:

Proper plank pose highlighting the muscles it strengthens throughout the core. This will whittle your middle.

Proper plank pose highlighting the muscles it strengthens throughout the core. This will whittle your middle.

The Club de Niños (Kids’ Club) and the English class are essentially the same group of kids so every Saturday for about three hours we study English then have fun with Kids’ Club activities. We wrapped up this week’s English class learning to pronounce the alphabet. Then we went outside and, with me calling out letters, they raced each other to make letter shapes in the grass using their bodies. It was a scream. Literally. Every Club meeting (and sometimes if we need a break during English) we practice yoga. This week to boost concentration and attention I told them each child would need to teach one posture to the group next week. I had them create fun, positive SuperHero names like Inteligente Hilda, Genial Gerardo, Linda Luz Maria (linda is Spanish for ‘pretty’), Super Sophia, etc, we drew names and they chose their posture. They seemed pretty excited about this and I’m looking forward to next week.

And since The Great 60-Day Plank Challenge was so well-received with the ladies I offered it to the kids as well. In early May the kids will compete against each other to see who can hold plank position the longest. However, this group decided they wanted to start competing TODAY and a tiny, scrawny scrappy gal won with a time of nearly 1 1/2 minutes! I was super impressed but the defeated boys were not! This, of course, motivated them into action for home practice, not to be outdone next week. This was followed by a game of Duck, Duck, Goose (aka in Spanish as Pato, Pato, Ganso), coloring, and futbol. Send in your suggestions for other fun, kid-friendly exercise games. We’re open to ideas!

Kids' Club made teams to race each other in forming letters of the alphabet using their bodies. Squeals of laughter. This is letter H. H is for hilarity.

Kids’ Club made teams to race each other in forming letters of the alphabet using their bodies. Squeals of laughter. This is letter H. H is for hilarity.

At the beginning of my service I did not foresee myself working with kids; my interest was more in agricultural work with adults in their fields and gardens. But I’ve got to admit that my recent involvement with the new Kids’ and Women’s Clubs has been some of the most fulfilling experiences of my service. I love how life can surprise us with a course correction that turns our expectations upside down and uncovers a whole new facet of ourselves, revealing interests or gifts we never knew we had. The lesson: be open. Always be open.

**Check out the Eye Candy page for new photos!!**

Categories: Peace Corps Paraguay | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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