Wednesday, February 18, 2009

to slum it: part deux

(Tuesday, February 17th, 2009)
I volunteered again. I volunteered with the same organization and at the same villa (slum). this time i arrived at the volunteer office at 9am, no earlier. the van / taxi picked us up at 9:30am. it was me, two other volunteers and a family of four that had two young girls. We piled into a van; 3 in the front seat, 3 in the back seat and 3 on plastic chairs in the back (there was a driver and a guide too). I don't know which was more unsafe...sitting on a plastic chair in the back of a moving van or sitting on a seat with a broken seat belt?

Speaking of safety in automobiles, it's a common site to see children sitting on the laps of their mothers in cars or taxis. Sometimes the children stick their heads out the window like dogs in the U.S. At first, this sight horrified me, but now it seems normal. If you live in the city and needed to take a taxi with your small child, would you have a car seat on you at all times? Should all taxis have a car seats in the trunk just in case they pick up a passenger with a small child? I don't know? How do people from the U.S. who live in big cities do it? Nevertheless, child safety in automobiles isn't the only 'safety violation' that my American eyes have seen. That is a whole other blog post of it's own.

Back to volunteering.... Some of the same children came as last week. Two of them are small boys that I adore. One is 12, the other is 8. They're brothers. They are quiet and both a little shy. You can tell the older boy looks out for and takes care of his younger brother (in a brotherly loving way). The older one always helps me out with my Spanish. I frequently ask him in Spanish "how do you say.....". He is also very talented. He enjoys reading books to us, being quizzed on his knowledge of English words and he draws really well for his age. It makes me sad to think that he may not have as many opportunities provided to him as other children.

Before visiting a villa I assumed the the children would be dirty and smell since I assumed many didn't have running water. However, yesterday one of the volunteers smelled badly of B.O., where as children were freshly showered, smelled really good and wore nice clothes. Just thought it was funny how the volunteer smelled badly and the poor villa children smelled good.

After volunteering, at 5pm, I met with a new Spanish tutor. My regular tutor is on vacation for two weeks. I also want to try a new tutor. I know how I learn best (structure structure structure). I'm sure I like structure so much due to years in college.

My new tutor is older. She brought many helpful worksheets and learning aids with her. She gave me a ton of homework too (which I like.... (I know 'nerd alert')) and most importantly she didn't put words in my mouth. I get so frustrated when someone fills in my sentences for me...I have the words in my brain, it just takes me a while to spit them out. The only bad thing about her is that she is a 'low talker'; it was difficult to hear her. Well, I guess that means that I'll have to learn the Spanish phrase for "speak up".

Even though it was just one class, I think I really like her. I meet with her again on Friday.

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