Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Players

My niece is currently in Ecuador as a volunteer teacher for a few weeks. Great to see at least one of the family doing something worthwhile so, if I may, I'll just quote her e-mail almost verbatim ....

"I´ve now been teaching at my school it the mountains for 2 weeks. In some ways it´s gone really fast and in others the school days (8am -1pm) can seem quite long. The school (Larcarcunga) is built in a fantastic location, surrounded by snow covered volcanoes, a 20 minute bus ride and 30 minute (steep) hike up in the mountains outside Otavalo.

Armed with my 3 weeks of Spanish lessons I´m now teaching solo a class of 14 primary school age kids! It´s currently summer holidays (for nearly 3 months) in Otavalo but the project I´m with runs summer schools during this time. In reality, this means that the local teachers who we would normally help out as classroom assistants have a nice long break, and that for the next 10 weeks as volunteers we just run the classes ourselves!

It´s a steep learning curve in terms of speaking Spanish, although it´s also a dual language for most of the kids who speak Quichua at home with their parents (not even attempting to learn that one), plus most of the little kids are fairly forgiving of us volunteers who are just getting to grips with the language. My school vocabulary for the first few weeks has consisted of all the useful teaching basics i.e. SILENCE, sit down, STOP doing that/stealing the pens/playing football in the class and please don´t punch/kick/bite your friend.

Most of the teaching is reinforcing basic skills such as maths, language and a bit of English as well as lots of drawing, singing and hiking round the mountains (less speaking needed for these); sometimes feels like I´m in the set for the Sound of Music."

As you can see, some of the local kids are also pretty handy on the football field. All that high-altitude training will doubtless serve them well as they go on to beat England in some future world cup clash! Great work, Lorraine, but if you could nobble that kid on the left before he grows up and beats us all then we'd much appreciate it!

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