Monday, November 28, 2011

Math Programs, Swimming, Suspensions, and Thanksgiving

November 8 to 24, 2011

First, a quick Indiegogo update. Our sponsor has agreed to raise the matching funds to $5000!! So this means even though we reached our original goal of $3500, any donation given up to $5000 will still be matched. Thanks for your support and continuing to click on the link to the right.

The Monday after I returned from the Chile trip Alicia and I began a new math program to help the girls using the six laptop computers her non-profit donated to the girls (Computers for Communities). It is a web-based program called ALEXS. Wow, it is incredible. In fact, I would recommend it for schools and individuals who need to teach/learn math skills. Basically, all the girls began by taking a diagnostic test. Then, a circle graph appears with the topics that they need to improve on or learn. They click whatever topic they want and answer questions. If they don’t understand, there are tutorials that walk them through it. As they learn topics the circle becomes more and more darkened in. They love it and it makes my job easier because all the girls are at different levels. They are doing such a good job and ask to continue the program well after the hour and a half that I normally have official class. Kids asking permission to do more math? That’s a new one. There is also a flashcard option that they can work on for 20 minutes a day. Right now we have a free trial, but we are going to strongly recommend purchasing licenses for the girls for next year. We get a discount for being a non-profit.

Computer class doing math with ALEXS

There is still homework to be done as well...

Later that first week back I finally made it to the Incan pool hidden in the trees above town across the river. It is about 30 feet by 15 feet and has a stream flowing into it. The water is pretty chilly but very refreshing. It is nice to be able to hike up in the morning and go for a swim in the early afternoon sun. I still can’t believe it is almost December and I am enjoying 70 degree weather and sun. I guess it’s payback for that snow on July 1st.


The following Saturday almost every single foreigner from town (about 15 of us) all headed to Cusco to say goodbye to Tomas. We are reaching the point where practically everyone in town is leaving to go home for the holidays. It is pretty much going to be non-stop goodbye parties for a month. But it is the same old thing, get to know cool volunteers from around the world and then never see anyone ever again. I’m used to that already. We hit the karaoke pub first and I threw down some Kriss Kross with Annie, gotta love 90’s pop. After that it was dancing until dawn. Once again I get the feeling Cusco is the city that never sleeps.

Kriss Kross will make you jump... (Yes, we turned our clothes backwards)

That Sunday we taught the girls how to play Twister at the dorm. Sundays are definitely my favorite days, they just seem to be more relaxed and the girls don’t have homework. It is the best time to just hang out and chat.

The following week I got sick again. Wednesday and Thursday I had a fever and stayed in bed with four blankets, the chills, and sweating like crazy. I went back to the good old clinic. It turned out to be giardia still. I just can’t shake it. Awesome.

But that week there were much bigger issues going on. We found out that a group of five girls left during the night of the big fiesta in town while I was on the Chile trip. This is a huge issue. The girl who instigated it was already on final notice for behavior. We decided to expel her and suspend the other four girls for a week. The four girls were really ashamed and there were definitely tears. I am sure they learned from this and it won’t happen again. I could tell how much staying at the dorm meant to them. But once again, I thought of teenage girls staying at a boarding school in the States. I am sure they would be tempted to sneak out as well. Young people all over the world are different, yet so much the same.

Mano izquierda amarillo

This is literally the testing lab, a chair, microscope, and a poster on the wall to identify parasites.

And of course last week was Thanksgiving. I was REALLY looking forward to it. Alicia had been planning for a week on how to cook a semi-American Thanksgiving meal. I myself was planning on finding a way to watch my first Lions game of the year. I had been trying all fall with no success. I had bought some hot sauce from the States in a store in Cusco. I found a restaurant willing to make something that resembled boneless wings. The local bar was the only place in town with Direct TV and I made sure they were going to be open. So at 12:30 exactly I sat down by myself in the empty bar, cracked open a beer, dumped the hot sauce on the wings and turned on the TV. But it was blank. The owner called the company and apparently service was out until that afternoon. Really? I was pretty disappointed. But Ana came over, and we ended up having fun cooking apple pies and preparing for the big dinner.

The dinner was me, Alicia, Ana, and Max from the States, Laura and Lulu from Britain, and Mario and his wife from town. It was pretty cool to have a meal with people from all over the world, and saying what we were thankful for in Spanish. The food was great although it did not really taste like food from the States.

All ready for the Lions game, except no game, DirectTV is out. Pretty typical for Peru...

Ana making some pretty American apple pie.

Thanksgiving dinner in Peru: chicken, peas, stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and lasagna

Max, Lulu, and Mario (3 continents represented)