Developments in English at CPJ and Other Happenings

Insert obligatory I’m-sorry-for-never-updating-this-blog-often-I-will-reform-my-ways apology.

Not to make excuses (I’m doing it anyway) but I’ve been a bit busy this week. My days began early and ended late. From my first Tuesday day-trip in a month that happened earlier this week, to attending my first birthday party in La Encantada (it’s a big thing), planning this month’s volunteer meeting and holding down the fort solo at CEDED for the first time since my first week here, it’s been eventful to say the least. Also fun fact: I’m going on a trip to Trujillo (a city north of Lima) next week with other volunteers. But before I get to that, I’d like to acknowledge some very positive things that occurred this week.

When I first started going to Colegio Peruano Japones, I didn’t have much confidence in the value of my work there. But even though the preparation for their presentation isn’t the most ideal learning experience at first glance, making the most of the situation has turned out to be somewhat enjoyable. For the past two weeks I’ve been going on Wednesdays and Thursdays to help prepare for the English program presentation that will be on the first of December. I worked with the older kids on Wednesday and for the first time since I started working with them, we got to listen to the music of the songs that each different grade will sing. You’d think we would be doing that sort of thing a bit earlier than three weeks before the big day, but no. Nonetheless, it was actually really fun to work with them.

Because “Black or White” was a tad bit too difficult for the fourth grade group, we switched their song to “Hello, Goodbye” by the Beatles and now the fifth graders will be jamming to some MJ. I gave the fifth graders “Black or White” last Thursday and by this week, one of the boys had essentially all of the pronunciation down and even spent time practicing and listening to the song. Until that point, I hadn’t witnessed any sort of genuine interest in participating in this show and just this one boy’s enthusiasm basically validated all of the time and effort that had been put into working with the other groups. We sat down next to each other and sang along  to a karaoke track for “Black or White” about a half a dozen times. It ended up being me singing most of the time and him chiming in for the “black or white” part as well as some air guitar solos in between the verses and chorus, but I think it was time very well spent.

In the Voices of Youth world, things are getting pretty artsy. Literally. For the next few weeks, a local artist is helping the kids create a mural to paint in the CEDED! This Thursday as well as the following three (or four, I think) meetings will be art workshops that will give the kids an opportunity to create their vision for the mural. I think I might be a little more excited about it than the kids – I participated in the drawing workshop that was held this Thursday and here’s a picture of me during the meeting:

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Pretty in the zone. There may or may not be two other pictures that are of a very similar nature. I still feel guilty for being a bit too absorbed in the project but I hope that it translated in a positive way. I hope.

I think it really goes without saying at this point, but I am trying my best to keep up with this blog. I know for certain that I won’t be writing next Monday to Wednesday because I’ll be traveling. Nevertheless, everyone should expect a very thorough post-travels blog post later next week!

To quote something Hannah said in passing earlier this week: “Things are happening.”

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CEDED Taco Night

Once again, Peruvian Food Monday will not actually be about Peruvian food. Next week, friends. Next week. Although, this post does involve food! Surprise, surprise.

About a month ago, we planned to have a communal dinner with the Voices of Youth kids. Cooking is a great way to bond and the atmosphere is ideal for having a time for everyone to just get to know one another. (No one has to tell me about the powers of food, that’s for sure.) We originally planned to make arroz con pollo and papa a la huancaina. But on the day we planned to make it all, the plans fell through due to the kids arriving a little too late and not enough kids coming. It was disappointing but we made the most of our time by having them brainstorm plans for their postcard project. The communal dinner plan was put on the back burner. But about a week and a half ago, the dinner plans were tossed back into the mix (I can keep going)  and it all came together yesterday afternoon.

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We reintroduced the communal meal idea and the kids voted on more exotic foods to cook. The consensus was Mexican food and after another round of voting, it was decided that we were going to make enchiladas. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make enchiladas because of complications with sauce preparation, so we changed it to tacos. Roxana brought a couple of kids to the market earlier this week to go buy the ingredients and everyone came yesterday to prepare the meal. Earlier on Sunday, Hannah and Roxana even made homemade tortillas to supplement our package of Old El Paso tortillas from the supermercado.

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There were three groups: a group to cut and cook onions and peppers, lettuce and tomato group and guacamole group. (My group was the lettuce and tomato group, but because the kitchen is only so big and it’s kind of awkward to help out with hand, I declared myself the photographer for the afternoon.) The groups worked really well together and anyone could tell they were having a genuinely good time. Although, the tear ducts of the onions and peppers group succumbed to the tear-inducing task of cutting the onions, to the point where they had to rotate between people cutting the onions and people going to the bathroom to washout their eyes.  I was quite impressed with their onion cutting skills – those onions were very neatly minced, let me tell you. Nevertheless, their hard work definitely paid off in the end.

Once all of the ingredients were prepared, we put them all out on the table and got to business. When some of the kids started to eat the tortillas by itself, we were reminded that a lot of them hadn’t had tacos before and that they might have forgotten what they looked like since the voting process of what we would make. It was really quite endearing. After clarifying how to build their own taco, everyone went to town. The most popular ingredient was the guacamole, which lets be honest was no surprise. Whose favorite part isn’t the guacamole?

It was a laid-back afternoon with good food and fun conversation. CEDED taco night: success.