Monday, I awoke at the Loayza’s and moved my stuff back to the volunteer house. I figured that would be a good spot to stay until I could find a permanent place. The morning consisted of an important meeting between me and Elena. She outlined the list of things that I would be able to contribute to the dorm. It was long, and I felt good about the fact that I would have a lot to do. I am used to such long days teaching and being involved in many activities at GHHS, so I was afraid that I would not have much to do down here besides tutoring.
After the meeting I had to search for my first lunch. A former volunteer Max suggested a place outside the plaza. They have what is called a menú. This means there is one cheap option everyday that changes. This daily option there costs $1.40. It was a huge bowl of soup, a drink, and a big plate of rice, fries, and fried trout. I was so full afterwards. I think I will be able to stay under budget if I can continue to eat like that.
Essentially, every day the girls return to the dorm about 2 pm. They relax and eat lunch. The volunteers arrive around 3:30 to help the girls with their homework and lead extra classes. Also, some days during the week paid tutors (teachers) arrive and help them with reading and writing.
I will obviously be helping the girls with their homework on a daily basis. Besides that, one of my first tasks is to create a diagnostic test to see where the girls are at. After administering that, I will teach a remedial math class several times a week to help the girls with their basic skills. I also am going to work on a business plan to possibly build and maintain a galpone at the dorm. There is an organization that will pay for it, but they need a well put together document outlining exactly what that looks like. Haha, this is exactly what I have done with Rustic over that past two summers, I know a little about building and maintaining one of those. The goal is to get the dorm to start generating some money on its own and not have to rely completely on donations. In addition to those tasks, I am going to support students from the summer (and Interact as well) who expressed interest in creating clubs at their own school to raise money for and spread the word about the dorm. Hopefully there will be Skype conversations and pen pals in the future.
So, that afternoon was my first day there. Right away I helped Noami work through a few questions on her second trimester exam. It is a very important exam that covers all the classes that the students take. One problem we did was how to turn a repeating decimal into a fraction. It had been awhile since I had done that because my students have a magical little button on their calculators that does it for them. So right away I learned that the students down here do EVERYTHING without a calculator. Interesting. Mr. Quick would love that. I then helped Katy with her English homework. She had to translate a bunch of words and write them over and over. Some of the words in English were spelled wrong, I am not sure if she copied them down wrong from the board or if the teacher made the mistakes. All in all, it was a productive first day. I left around 7:30 and fell asleep soon after. I was still tired from the crazy weekend.
Tuesday I got up and headed into the plaza for breakfast. I want to get a daily routine started, so I needed to find a cheap breakfast place. The upper floor of the market is going to be a great place for me. I can get a freshly blended fruit and vegetable smoothie for $1. And that buys four glasses of it!! It is a meal in itself. After that I really needed to lock down where I was going to stay for the next four months. It turns out I heard back from the owner of the volunteer house and it is a reasonable price for the time I will be here. So that’s it, I have a new home. The plusses are many, hot shower, washing machine, kitchen, couches, DVD player/TV, comfortable bed, a balcony overlooking the ruins, and Elena has a mobile USB stick with medium internet that I can use most of the time. The cons are that I have a room with four beds, so as other volunteers come in I have to share the room. That isn’t too bad.
View of the ruins from my balcony
View of the street from my balcony
My new room
I also started my Spanish lessons with Maria. She is the house sitter who lives at the dorm during the week and takes care of the girls. She lives in Cusco but comes Sunday night through Friday morning to work. When the girls are at school she has free time to chat. So it looks like every morning around 11 am I will be improving my Spanish.
Tuesday is when the language tutors come for the first year girls. I sat in on the class to see what they were learning and to see how the well the tutor worked with the girls. There was a problem though, only two girls were there!! It turns out the anniversary of the school is next week, and all this week and next the students only have half of their classes and the rest of the time is spent learning dances for the festival. Hmmm, not cool. The girls are never supposed to miss Tuesday tutoring, but someone from the school wrote a note that if the girls missed dance practice they would be given zeros in their classes. Whatever. Following tutoring I helped Elizabeth find all the prime numbers from 2 to 100. I actually learned a few new tricks about how to discover what numbers can divide into things from the textbook. After that, we read a few books in Spanish aloud to work on reading comprehension. We actually read through a bit of The Alchemist (in Spanish of course) as well, since it was a higher reading level. She did a great job.
As the other first year girls eventually showed up, I asked why none of them were asking me for help in math, but the second year girls were. I assumed it was because they don’t know me yet and were shy. It turns out their math teacher stopped showing up last week and might have quit. There isn’t a replacement available. Really?
Tuesday night I plugged in my portable DVD player and watched a movie for the first time since like February. They sell any movie you want down here for $1. I started with Transformers 3 which I bought earlier in the summer the day it came out in theaters. It obviously is bootlegged and illegal to bring home, but I figured it was a cheap rental to say the least.
So far my first impressions are that I will be very busy and be doing very fulfilling work. Life is good.