for three and a half months. I’ll be studying microfinance at the West African Research Center in Dakar for eight weeks, and will then have an internship in microfinance for the last six weeks. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to update, but this blog is in case I do! Check back with me here!
Posts Tagged ‘internship’
Mambo vipi wote!
So once again I slacked big time in updating my blog over the past month. But here’s to giving you a snap shot of the last month:
My time living on the Kenyan coast wrapped up really well. My internship at the Wema Centre slowed down in the final week—since my students went home for holiday break. Saturday, November 26 was a highlight because this was the day that dozens of students, parents and teachers gathered for Wema’s graduation ceremony on the front lawn. My Kindergarten 3 (KG3) class was graduating, as well as a number of older students on the vocational training classes. Now imagine your typical boring graduation ceremony—and now think of the complete opposite, and that was Wema’s graduation. Instead of boring speeches, there were student performances, an acrobat performance, dance groups and skits. It was quite the event.
American ‘cooked’ dinner for my host fam
My time with my host family on the coast also came to a nice close. Some of the great highlights were cooking an ‘American’ meal for my family with my friend Amber (which consisted of chicken parm out of a box, apples with peanut butter, Caesar salad, and ice cream with candy—as American as you can get since the grocery store didn’t have mac n cheese), and then also taking my host mom and my two sisters out to eat at a restaurant in Mombasa. I really clicked with this family and it was pretty hard to say good-bye; but, nevertheless, on Sunday morning December 4, I hopped on the back of a pikipiki (motorbike) with my two bags, and set off for the bus station. From there it was another 8 hour bus ride back to Nairobi.
The following few days were kinda a blur. All 26 students from my program came back from their respective internships at NGO’s, hospitals, and schools in towns and cities all over Kenya. During this time we stayed at a guesthouse outside Nairobi. It was the same exact one that I had stayed in upon my initial arrival in Kenya; but this time it was like culture shock: running water? Toilets and showers? Consistent electricity? And WIFI?? It was a strange feeling to feel too comfortable after my 6 weeks on the brutally hot coast. We had our final exams (no one really studied for these too much) and had final wrap up discussions.
But the most unforgettable one was when all of us were required to present in groups on our respective internships at development NGO’s, and particularly what was shocking and surprising. What started as initially a slightly boring forum, turned very emotional quite quickly as the brutal realities and injustices we had experienced became clear: a street boy who returned to the streets only to fall back into glue-sniffing addiction, under-stocked and under-staffed hospitals which couldn’t properly do surgeries because they didn’t have rubber gloves, a teenager at a school reading at a kindergarten level, women treated like crap and abused by men, or forced to go into prostitution to feed their kids—the list goes on and on. But as we moved past the tears and the gravity of the situation, it suddenly became clear that each of us had changed since we first came to Kenya. Our eyes had been opened, even in the slightest way, to some of the cruelest effects that poverty has on the lives of individuals—individuals not unlike you and me—who are simply trying to live their lives. People talked about fears over transitioning back to the US and how to even begin to explain these experiences to friends and family back at home.
6 days after our program ended I boarded a 14 hour bus ride for one final trip in East Africa with some friends before going home. The trip was supposed to be just Sunday through Friday, with one night in Dar es Salaam and several on the island of Zanzibar just off the Tanzanian coast. Our bus, complete with cardboard pasted over the missing back windows, barreled down the highway bound for Dar at disconcerting speeds, the engine sounding like it was about to burst at any moment. But, alas, we made it safely to Dar. I even was able to find a street called Ohio Street in downtown Dar! Dar is so unbelievably different than Nairobi—so much less overpopulation, pollution and traffic; not to mention it’s directly on the Indian Ocean.
We then spent 2 nights on the east coast at a $15/night hostel called Teddy’s—one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life. And then it was up to the north coast for a night.
All in all the trip to Zanzibar was absolutely amazing. From the crystal white beaches to swimming in bright blue oceans, combined with its old history and culture, this island was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been—and I’ve got a pretty bad sunburn on my back to show for it.
My time here in Kenya is finally coming to a close, and I shall soon do one final Kenya post. Over and out my friends.
So these are my last days in Quito and Ecuador. I moved back from Otavalo last Saturday and had the opportunity to meet my dad’s boss (the one from the U. S.) and he gave me a bunch of goodies from my parents which was awesome!
But, here in Quito I have finished my paper, turned out to be a total of 40 pages and I get to present everything I have learned from my internship on Friday, which should just be super fun. Then I fly out of Quito at 8pm on Saturday, I will be spending the night in the Peru airport for a 10-hour layover and then off to Bolivia on Sunday morning. Once in Bolivia I will have to get a visa and another plane ticket to Cochabamba where my volunteering will take place.
I can’t believe this has all gone by so fast, but yet I have one more part of my journey to complete! I hope everything is going well back at home and I miss everyone tons, also I attached a few pictures of my last days here just for fun!
Yes, 7 days left of my 6 months abroad! I am currently back in Quito taking a break from writing my final term project. Last week was a whirlwind of feelings, celebrations, and fun. There was a big celebration at school on Friday to send me off. I was showered in flowers, dancing, and many thanks. I had a great experience teaching at Nazacota Puento and learned a lot about teaching in rural areas. I know that my experience has helped me identify a lot of my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher, and shown me that i have a critical but hopeful view of education.
On Thursday I held a meeting with all of the teachers in the school to talk about my experience at the school as a student teacher, and to share my point of view. We talked about working as a team, using and reusing resources, sharing their successes and challenges as teachers, working better with the families of the students, and how to better the quality of education with the tools that they have.
I am writing my term thesis on the quality of education in rural ecuador and how pedagogy affects quality of education. I am also commenting on how in general there is inequality in education as far as quality and how this inequality reflects the inequality seen in society as far as living circumstances and the valorization of life.
Tonight, will go down in history as one of my favorite memories of London. But before I get to why it was so memorable, I’ll start from the beginning…
I got to sleep in today since I didn’t have to go to my internship, which was lovely. Last night my flatmates and I had talked about trying to get tickets to Chicago for today, and I wasn’t really sure if I would be up for it because I’m still sick, and thought I would be worn down and not “enthusiastic” enough. Katie woke up early to go to the theatre to try and grab us tickets, and was successful! Once she got back to the flat, the three of us ventured out to Harrods, because they had just received a litter of bulldog puppies, and Allie is OBSESSED with bulldogs. We walked around Harrods for a bit, saw the puppies, and then walked to Hyde Park where the winter festival is taking place. There were rides, food stall after food stall, and lots, and lots of mulled wine. While Allie and Katie grabbed mulled wine, I had a Hot Toddy (because they’re known for helping colds), and Katie and I stumbled upon a currywurst stand and started to geek out. Currywurst was the one food item we fell in love with while in Berlin, so of course we got some currywurst and pomme frittes to snack on! Once we were done with the winter festival, we headed to the V&A museum near our school to kill time before Chicago.
The show was absolutely amazing. America Ferrera, best known for starring in Ugly Betty on ABC and starring in the Sisterhood and the Traveling Pants movies played Roxy Hart. She held her own on that stage, and really did quite well. The woman who played Wilma was super old, and threw us all off guard but man, could she dance and sing! The cast was fantastic, and afterwards we waited by the door where they all exit, hoping America would come out to sign autographs. The guy that played her lawyer in the show is named Darius Campbell was the first to come out, and he was super nice and was willing to sign everyone’s souvenirs. It was about a 15, 20 minute wait before America shows up at the door, and there is her publicist, and a gate to block her off from everyone. We waited patiently and were probably 5th in line, and when we got to her it was incredible. She signed our tickets for us, and we asked her how she was liking London, and how long she has been here for. She was so sweet, but you could tell she was exhausted from doing two back to back shows. She was also kind enough to let us get a photo with her (which my roomie Allie has), and after we got our photo with her we squealed like little school girls. I’ve watched her in television and in movies for years now, so it was just awesome to meet someone who you have seen in film and television before. Allie and Katie met up with some of our Newman Crew friends, but I was tired and just wanted to get home. Plus, I knew it wouldn’t be smart of me to go out when I’m still sick. I’m definitely looking to sleeping in tomorrow!
Hello to all and a Happy Thanksgiving!
For the past few weeks I have been living in Latacunga and doing an internship at a cooperative that works in microfinance. Unfortunately, there isn’t internet in my house there and I haven’t had very many chances to use the internet! It’s a nice break from technology, but at the same time is driving me nuts being so disconnected from the world!!
For the last few weeks, I’ve been observing my co-workers in the office and learning about micro finances as well as visiting some clients in surrounding communities that are applying for loans. It’s been a great experience thus far and I can’t believe I only have one more week of work left! I’ve really enjoyed leaving the office and being able to visit a few local communities. Without fail, we always receive some type of food from clients – everything from cheese to guinea pig to milk straight from the cow to a coconut with two straws….oh, el campo.
Other than that, I’ve been spending time with my family in Latacunga and was able to meet my mom & sister that return on the weekends from Quito. Mostly, we eat. I’ve had the chance to try any and every type of food available…empanadas, giant meat kabobs, cow intestines…ya know, the usual.
Currently, I’m back in Quito for the rest of the week! We had a few lectures today and tomorrow have a Thanksgiving celebration for all of the students here! It definitely won’t be the same, but I’m looking forward to it none-the-less. I can’t say how good it feels to be back in Quito. It definitely felt strange walking to class today for the first time in nearly a month…but honestly, it felt like coming home.
On Sunday I’ll go back to Latacunga to finish up my internship, and then it’s back to Quito next Friday for my last week here! There are huge celebrations that week in Quito, so I’m looking forward to a fun week….and of course finishing my 25-page final paper. Yikes. Wish me luck.
Many weeks have passed here in Cotacachi. I have spent a lot of time with family, friends and students. I have exactly three weeks left in Ecuador, one full week here in Cotacachi and two more in Quito. My English classes have been getting better with every class and with every name I remember of my students. I have enjoyed classes with sixth, eighth and ninth grades the most, but have also had fun moments with the three year olds and the younger grades as well. I have been trying to keep track of my monographia that I need to write as my final project in Ecuador but as usual have easily filled my time with good people and great experiences. I am in the middle of an interview process with students, parents and teacher about the value of education and about the English language in schools in Ecuador, specifically in San Pedro. Along with my research project I am hoping to leave the school my materials, summary of what I have done, and had hoped to do as well as suggestions for the future.
Ok, so what have I actually been doing? I helped our students prepare the national anthem to sing for the inauguration of an ambassador of Ecuador who is from Cotacachi; I’ve been spending a lot of time with my mom going to the gym, going to dance sessions after the gym; making cookies with my host-sister; traveling to Otavalo with co-teachers for beers; spending time with friends in Ibarra, going on dancing on the weekends with my host-brother Santi; planning classes; avoiding young men; missing my friends and family at home; getting sick from bad water; and learning Kichwa.
Yesterday I climbed Imbabura (volcano) with my host-dad, host-sister Jhose, and younger host-brother Gabriel. I was expecting it to be a bit tough since I am pretty out of climbing shape, but it turned out a lot harder than expected. It took us a full six and a half hours to ascend and descend! Gabriel basically ran all of the way up, my host-dad was completely fine at whatever pace, I was hanging in there, but Jhose, who is 13, had never hiked like this before and therefore took frequent brakes and drank a lot of water. I put sunblock on my face once every two hours and still got sun-burned, the sun is so strong here!
So I have an obsession with mangos, but it’s finally Mango season here in Ecuador and I couldn’t be happier because the mangos couldn’t be sweeter! Also, I love eating watermelon in November, especially when it is refreshing, sweet and not snowing outside!
This past week all of the teachers in the area of Cotacachi in rural school such as San Pedro were obligated to take a course to enhance their teaching and knowledge about social issues. The issue of the week was sex, gender and sensitivity to how we as teachers express gender preference in the classroom. Well none of the information was new to me, but the answers, comments and questions asked during the past week were culturally shocking to me. Some of my “favorites” were: menstruation is a sickness, when girls are pregnant or menstruating they are dirty and will cause many problems, women automatically love their homes, the Spanish language isn’t sexist, our wives aren’t able to think in terms of money, I don’t let my wife go out with her friends because other men look at her, well the bible says women are supposed to be obedient and always obey the owner… and so on. Well I did my best to add in my point of view and upbringing calmly and with patience, but there were definitely times when I either couldn’t say anything at all or I would almost jump out of my chair with frustration. Anyway, by the end of the week some new ideas were considered about gender and sex and some minds were opened to the possibilities of equality and respect.
I’m sure there is more, but once again, I need to go write a paper!
I figured I would update everyone on whats going on in life right now, it seems like its been awhile! I am still at my internship in Otavalo in the Hospital, I have been observing doctors and nurses in Emergency, Surgery, Gynecology, and the Birthing Center and I will be going to Internal Medicine and Pediatrics in the next 2 weeks then I head back to Quito for a week then off to Bolivia! Time is sure flying by!
This week was crazy, a friend and I did tons of things! On Tuesday we went to an indigenous healing center where we got “cleaned with an egg.” The egg is used in indigenous medicine to diagnose illnesses, my cleaning said that I have a little pain, but other than that I was a very healthy person. We also hiked up to an exposition building that is shaped like a hummingbird (the national bird), but we got to see a lot of original artwork by an artist from Otavalo.
This weekend though a friend and I stayed in Otavalo instead of traveling to see all that we could here. On Friday we went out to dinner and then to my host dad’s birthday party where we sat and talked forever with my host family and friends. Then we woke up at the crack of dawn (6a) to go the animal market. Here all the people come from all around the city and country to sell their animals, there were tons of pigs, bunnies, puppies, chickens, roosters, cows, calfs, bulls, guinea pigs, cats, ducks, llamas, alpacas, goats… everything! I have a few pictures attached. Then after that we went to the food market and the artisan market where we got some more souvenirs and did a little people watching. It was a great time!
On Sunday Shelby and I went to a laguna, which a lake formed by a volcanic crater. We even took a boat ride around the lake and learned all about it. It was really beautiful to see, we hiked to the top of one of the nearby hills to get a great view of the lake. To get there we took a camioneta, which is a pick-up truck taxi where we sat in the bed of the truck. It was fun! After that we went to this little house on the outskirts of Otavalo where we got full body massages, it was amazing.
This coming week I am only in Otavalo for 2 days, I head back to Quito on Tuesday night for a workshop at my school and then I am heading to Cuenca, a little artisan city in Ecuador for Thanksgiving. I am super excited, it is the last place I wanted to travel to while I am here!
I really did not want to go to my internship this morning. All I wanted to do was crawl back into bed after my alarm went off, and call in “sick.” But, I love my internship too much, and it was only a half day, so I sucked it up and went to the showroom. I got an e-mail from my supervisor which made me sad, because it was about how she doesn’t want me to start up any new tasks since I only have two full weeks left at the showroom, and it’s making my time left in London more and more of a reality. Before I knew it, I was done for the day, and next week I get to go around to some of the retail stores which I am super excited about.
I got home around 2, and had the flat to myself. It was nice to come home to an empty flat, because rarely do I get any alone time, because I am always out and about, or if I’m at the flat, at least one flatmate is also home. I can’t wait to go back to the states and have my own room, so I can get some peace and quiet whenever the hell I want it. My one flatmate Katie got home about an hour after I did, and when she popped her head into the living room, what I saw was a SHOCK. She had gotten her hair coloured and cut, and it looks lovely! She told the hairdresser to basically do whatever she wanted to do with her hair. After tea and biscuits, we ventured out of our flat and explored more of our neighborhood for a few hours. We also scheduled our spa day in December, as a treat to ourselves for finishing up our program.
The plan for tonight is really quite cheesy, but I have no shame. We’re going to see the fourth Twilight movie next week, so we are ordering takeaway and watching the first three twilight movies.