What’s Next

I’ve been a little distracted lately. Big things have been happening and I haven’t had the energy to turn those experiences into blog posts, so I will save time by simply bullet-pointing some highlights.

  • I helped plan a vocational retreat for Voices of Youth.
  • I was a judge for Colegio Peruano Japones’s school-wide singing competition. (Because I am clearly appropriate for such a position.)
  • I got into college.
  • I decided where to go to college.
  • Then proceeded to make goal map of where I want to go in life.

Essentially all of the things on that list were inspired by events that occurred during the vocational retreat. (Being a judge at CPJ’s singing competition was not on my newly procured goal map and I am fairly certain it shouldn’t be on anyone’s.) Earlier this month, the Building Dignity team organized a weekend retreat focused on vocational activities as well as first aid training, which was organized and led two medical students from UCLA.

The retreat was exclusively for the older group of participants (ages 15-18+). This weekend long event was a way of re-energizing the older group and to help them definite themselves from the younger kids who up until a few months ago, were the grand majority of consistent participants. It was a really fun weekend, filled with activities that creatively expressed personal interests via life roadmaps, we discussed identifying stereotypes that influence how we perceive our professional abilities, and everyone (even BD volunteers) participated in workshops that taught important emergency medical skills. Moreover, within the 48 hour retreat, new friendships were formed, old ones were strengthened and I believe that the group found a new and strong identity.

I think that the retreat was a great way of introducing how personal interests can be developed into potential career ideas. Obviously, all of the activities and workshops were designed to support the participants, but I can safely say that I came away with much more clarity about my own career and general life goals. I’ve been thinking very thoroughly about where my life is going after my time of working in Peru, especially while I was receiving responses from colleges. Although I know there is only so much one can do regarding long-term planning, I now feel like I have a very clear understanding of just how to get to the places I want to go, while also being aware that life can throw a myriad of changes my way in between any given event.

But while I can say I have a better handle on my long-term goals, the same cannot be said about what will happen in the interim. Here’s one sentence that pretty much sums up everything that sends my short-term goals into a tailspin: I have less than two months left of being in Peru.

To emphasize how affecting that sentence is, I’d like to share this screenshot of a handy-dandy spreadsheet that lets my Omprakash Grant Mentor know what’s up while I’m working with Building Dignity.

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Can we just take a moment to look at how many months that is???? (And not the way that my blogging frequency has also declined on my Omprakash blog…)

Just one more time. With arrows.

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Thinking about how long I’ve been here in my head is something entirely different to seeing a visual representation of just how my experience has played out.

With that being said, the train of thought related to my impending departure quickly raises some pedagogically complex questions about what it (meaning my time here) all means. For example: What am I doing here? What entitled me to think I had/have anything to offer? How does one foster programming with good intentions, without inflicting harmful unintended consequences? How sustainable is the work I personally contribute to the organization I work with? The list goes on. They are questions that I was cognizant of before coming here, but I didn’t have the context or experience to fully understand their weight and importance.

Although all of those weighty questions are somewhat overwhelming, I’m glad they are being asked of me at this time in my life. Instead of feeling weighed down by the complexities of these questions, I feel excited about them. The sheer element of intellectual engagement that is being asked of those questions is fueling a yearning to go back to school, to learn, find connections and build an foundation that will support my academic and professional pursuits for years to come.

I do know that in this moment, President Jed Bartlet, or otherwise known as the world’s best fictional US President, saying “What’s next?” comes to mind. Although the context may be somewhat off because when he says it, he’s really saying “[he’s] ready to move on the the next thing,” and I know that in a few days or a few weeks, I may not feel like I’m ready to move on. But I’ve realized that’s ok. I’ll be sad to say goodbye to the people I’ve come to love so much and it’ll be scary to start a new, unfamiliar part of my life. But in this moment, while writing this long, long blog post in an attempt to make up for earlier times, I can say that I’m ready for what’s next.


Los Martincitos

Even though I kept it on the DL (most of the time), I had been really excited about this field trip for a while. Not too long ago, I heard about the plan of having Voices of Youth refocus on the community service aspect of the program. Community service hasn’t been emphasized as much due to the goal of fortifying the social and individual dynamics of the group i.e. self esteem, confidence, etc. When I heard that we would be going to Los Martincitos (a center for the elderly) and serving breakfast/lunch and putting on a little performance, I was immediately on board.

Los Martincitos is a senior citizen center in Villa el Salvador where more than one hundred elderly can receive breakfast and lunch, as well as participate in the center’s various programs. Participants have families that live too far away to care for them, live alone or have very little to no support. With that said, the atmosphere at Martincitos is welcoming, incredibly friendly and genuinely supportive, so that participants can feel like their quality of life may be little bit better. With that in mind, the kids prepared a program with performances and activities for their special day of service.

Waking up especially early on Wednesday morning was reminiscent of the early mornings I spent getting ready for past community service events like beach clean ups, door knocking for canned food and preparing for benefit races. We met the kids at the location where our workshops in Oasis take place and soon enough we were on our way to Martincitos!

The kids were incredible. Understandably, they were a little shy when introducing themselves to everyone, table by table in small groups, but no more than five minutes later, I looked around the room and saw many kids leaning into those who they were talking with and engaging in conversation. One of my favorite moments was after we all met in an area after introducing ourselves and one girl told me that she thought the abuelos were really cool – they are!

After helping clean dishes from breakfast, the kids presented plays and jokes, all of which went very well – they really quite hilarious. After the presentation of the plays and jokes, the kids had various activities to do with the abuelos and abuelas. There were the choices of drawing, playing board games and or getting their fingernails painted. My group helped facilitate the drawing activity and while it took a minute for the kids to get engaged, the end result was priceless. Some helped draw, others simply engaged in jovial conversation. I spent a lot of my time talking to a man who had been participating with Martincitos for the past four years. He showed me a small photo album that was filled with pictures of him with past and current volunteers who work at the center as well as pictures of his family. When we finished looking through the pictures, he asked me if I had a picture of myself. Because I didn’t, I suggested that we take a picture together and that if he liked, I could bring it to him during the next time we visited. And we did just that.


The couple of hours we spent at Martincitos were really fun and what made it even better was how enthusiastic the kids were. We weren’t even half way through our time there when many started asking when we were going to come back! I don’t know if/when Voices of Youth from Oasis will be going back, but in March, Voices of Youth from La Encantada will be doing a similar visit. Until then, I’ll be waiting to give José our picture and looking forward to what I’m sure will be another great experience.

To see photos from the visit, check out Building Dignity on Facebook and don’t forget to “Like” us!

Wrapping up 2013

After 9pm tonight, CEDED will say goodbye to the schedule we’ve been running for the past few months and be on vacation until early January. It’s hard to believe that we’re already at that time of the year, but here we are.

The past week has been a flurry of end-of-the-year activities and our plans for the last Voices of Youth meeting was no exception. With kids finishing their final exams, getting out of school for summer and all the holiday excitement in the air, it was fitting to have this Thursday’s meeting be a fun and relaxing. (For the volunteers, it was almost like an all-day Christmas party; preparing the food in the morning, listening to Radio Magica’s oldies Christmas music and drawing an ear-less Santa. Almost.) We played games, listened to Christmas music and ate food – all things that make for a good Christmas party.

We played two games: holiday themed pictionary and pin the beard on Papa Noel, aka Santa Claus. I was very enthusiastic about the whole idea because the one those games involved making a poster and I am all about the posters. All in all, it was extremely successful. The kids were really into pin the beard on Papa Noel. Voices were projected quite well to say the least. The most notable part was when a girl just simply screamed out of excitement/energy, I’m still unsure. It was good time.


Everyone knows that a good party has to involve some good food and we made sure of that. Hannah made chocolate fudge (which we have learned is not so much of a thing here), I made snickerdoodles and we prepared hot chocolate. Despite it’s lesser popularity with the volunteers, we also bought a panetón. Panetón is a festive holiday desert bread that is really, really, really popular here. Oh the lengths we go to for the kids… All joking aside, it really doesn’t taste that bad. It’s like a less dense and taller fruit cake. Unsurprisingly, once we distributed the food, the panetón was the first to go. (But the cookies and fudge were a close second.)



All in all, it’s been a very busy few weeks. It hasn’t left much time to really grasp how next Tuesday is Christmas Eve and that that weekend I’ll be leaving for Ecuador. With the time that I’ve had in between various other things (mainly the numerous trips on the Metropolitano to and from Centro de Lima), I’ve gotten to reflect a bit on my time in Peru so far and on the year as a whole.

I can remember quite clearly my thoughts about what the newly inaugurated 2013 would be like from last winter break. I said, “2013 is going to be so weird. I’m not superstitious, but maybe it’s the thirteen. I just think it’s going to be weird.” Hand me a crystal ball and call me Mystic Michelle. That was some pretty profound stuff. Essentially, my main idea was that all of the transitional changes that were to come i.e. high school graduation, starting college, etc. would just be different. Substitute “weird” for “different” and I think I called it pretty well. In any case, I think that this year I’ll keep my commentary on the more open-ended side of things.

Even though life is completely different than how I envisioned it would be one year ago (which totally fulfills my prediction if you do the substitution of “different” for “weird”), some things haven’t changed (or not). Like I was a year ago, I’m still churning out college applications with an anxiety familiar to someone who procrastinates as frequently as I do with things of such importance. I am hopeful that this doesn’t become some sort of pattern, even if it does put me in another country this same time next year. Applications really aren’t something to look forward to. But I digress. The fact of the matter is that despite the occasional feelings of ungrounded-ness from being abroad, at the moment I’m thinking very much about the months to come. It’s hard not to when the time has been flying as fast as it has been – it makes me think about how fast the next four will come and go. More than anything I feel grateful to have found this opportunity to volunteer with Building Dignity – an organization for which my fondness and respect grows every day I come into work. With or without a crystal ball, I don’t believe I could have ever anticipated or imagined how positive an experience I have been having.

With that said, let it be written in the books or literally, immortalized on the internet, that I simply say that I think 2014 will be eventful. (I think I’m pretty safe with that one.)

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:


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.”

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.


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.


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.


Postcards from Lima

Somehow it ended up being the beginning of October and with that brings this month’s Voices of Youth project: postcards.

The youth will take the pictures, design the postcards as well as sell them. They will be selling said postcards to volunteers (you may receive one, so check your mailboxes!), Building Dignity donors online and all other potential clients. In the coming weeks, we will be taking two groups to take pictures: one group will go to the Miraflores and one group will go to the Central de Lima. We also would like them to gain a sense of pride of the community they live in – Villa El Salvador and Lomo de Corvina – so this weekend we will be taking pictures of monuments that they chose in Villa El Salvador.

Voices of Youth is project-based, which will enhance the program’s structure and decreases any chance of repetition within its curriculum. The kids chose the project entirely on their own (well, with a little help from the lesson plans we constructed). While this project is aimed towards teaching financial independence, it is multi-faceted in that there is potential to also provide an opportunity to build confidence and honor not only in themselves but also in regard to how they feel about where they live.

From the start of this planning this project, I’ve been really excited about the photography aspect. One of the things I learned in my online global development class, EdGE, were the implications of having a camera. Essentially, it describes various situations and things to be aware of regarding the documentation of one’s volunteer experience. Despite the fact that I was at least vaguely aware of many of the points it discusses, it was really quite sobering. If you’d like to read the complete essay click here. The flip side of this is that I read this essay after arriving in Peru, having already taken pictures. To say I felt like a self-aggrandizing, ignorant gringa would be pretty accurate. However, I decided that self-loathing wasn’t the most healthy way to utilize this essay, and instead I became motivated to try and figure out a way to share my knowledge of photography.

First thing’s first, I am no professional. My semester-long photography class during my junior year in no way certifies me as a professional photographer, but I like to think that I know a few tricks. Although, I attribute most of the quality of my pictures to my Canon EOS 20D. I think I will always feel a little self-conscious about how conspicuous it looks to have an SLR hanging from my neck, but I digress.

At yesterday’s Voices of Youth meeting, I co-facilitated a small workshop about basic photography composition. I included pictures that I myself had taken of the locations they will be eventually going to, as well as pictures in Villa El Salvador. About a week earlier, upon hearing that I had said pictures, one of the kids asked me if I really liked taking pictures of Villa. This was quite sobering, as it provided clear proof that there is a lack of pride in where they live. One of the last pictures in the presentation was of Villa El Salvador and one young boy noticed that his house was in the background. He lifted out of his chair and pointed it out to everyone with excitement and apparent pride. While a picture may be powerful (enough to be “worth one thousand words”), I think it’s even more compelling when you’re able to share that knowledge of photography with others.

Parque de la Imaginación

Today by the numbers:

47 kids, ages 11-18

13 volunteers

6 hours (10am departure, ~4pm arrival)

1 bus

12 mega buckets of KFC chicken for lunch

Innumerable amount of napkins

The Parque de la Imaginación is located about an hour away from Villa El Salvador and is a pretty awesome place. It’s basically like a discovery museum. It features several different types of sciences, all with very interactive and engaging exhibits. Emily and I went a few weeks ago to scope it out and plan for todays trip. Ever since that first trip, I’d been quite excited for the kids and I very hopeful that they would enjoy the opportunity.


So, 47 kids. It was a little crazy, to say the least. I’ve had plenty of experience with leading groups of people my own age, but it’s a whole different ball game with kids a few years younger. Also when they are extra hyped up after eating lunch.


We ate lunch at a KFC that was only a couple of blocks away from the park. However, our bus driver wasn’t able to get us very close to the entrance, so we had to walk around the shopping center where said KFC was located. It was not the ideal situation regarding safety, but I made sure that my group walked on the side of the sidewalk that was farthest from the street, looked both ways before crossing and waited for people who needed to catch up. Getting there was fine. We had to make the same trek back to the bus after lunch, but this time I was leading three times as many kids as I had originally brought. There came a point where we had to cross a street and Emily was waiting on the other side. Of course, this is the moment when the kids decide to walk into oncoming traffic. The very last, last, last thing I wanted to happen was for one of them getting hurt, let alone while on my watch, also throw in the right-in-front-of-Emily-Director-of-Building-Dignity, aspect. Although I was pulling back kids by their jackets left and right, everyone safely crossed the street and we made it to the bus.

But really, the everything else went very well. The kids had a great time at the park, we were relatively on-time with the planned out schedule and no one got hurt. It was really nice to be able to take a trip out of Villa with the kids and have fun while also learning about electricity, the human body, physics, biology and loads more.

For the past couple of months, Voices of Youth has been going on one paseo a month. I’m not sure what they have planned for October, but considering how well today went I think it’ll be pretty hard to beat.

First Day 2.0

I have a new housemate. Technically, I have a lot of housemates considering I live with Ana María’s family. But late last night, a new long-term volunteer arrived and she’s living on the floor above mine. Her name is Roxana, she’s the same age as me and is taking a gap year as well!

Today was her first day and I got to play tour-guide. To my surprise, I wasn’t nervous or anything with having to show her around. In fact, it was almost empowering. It was really gratifying to be able to prove to myself how much I’ve learned about the community and the people who live here and I really loved being able to share that with someone new.

After a trip to the market, Roxana and I headed up to CEDED. Normally, I would go to CEDED later in the day because Voices of Youth is from 4-6pm. But due to the fact that I only had one avocado, a huge loaf of white bread and one-third of a package of crackers, I figured it was time to get some food.

Today was the Thursday group for Voices of Youth. Today we planned on having them work on organizing an economic activity, finalizing plans for their field trip that’s this Sunday to the Parque de Imaginación and starting to think about a menu for their first communal meal that will be in about two weeks. This afternoon proved to be a chatty one. The youth’s voices were heard. Very loudly and quite often. But nonetheless, we got business done and I’m looking forward to watching more than a dozen kids make arroz con pollo y papas a la huancaína in the little CEDED cocina.

All in all, today was a huge reminder of a principle that I’ve made a goal for my time here: always be aware of the “now”. As I showed Roxana around, I was mentally thinking back to when Emily was doing the very same for me only a short time ago. It may sound silly, but sometimes I think about the fact that “I live in South America” and “I am in South America” are phrases that are applicable to my life and I am filled with pure wonderment. Being as reserved as I am, I’m not one to make a big deal about things. But every so often, (mainly during mototaxi rides up to CEDED) I remember tremendous potential of this time in my life. It’s a little overwhelming, but I’m finding that any anxiety that spurs from that train of thought often dissipates once I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to be here.

One Fine Sunday

With almost three weeks under my belt, I’ve started to definitely feel more comfortable with the ebb and flow of my schedule. I work every day except Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the week consists of three 9am-7pm work days, and two days with programs only during the afternoon. So far, that’s been going quite well. Except I haven’t really had a totally normal week, as I was at CEDED all of last Monday and the week before was my first one here.

The flexibility has allowed me to have a lot of mornings free, during which I’ve enjoyed traveling about the markets of Villa El Salvador.


Every Sunday, there’s a flea market of sorts in the same area as the open air market where I buy my food. The street is lined with dozens and dozens of vendors selling all sorts of random things. It’s a great day full of bustling people and good food. Today I was feeling very festive and bought these delicious coconut cookie/macaroon-like treats. The vendor sold these as well as fried coconut meat. (I decided to buy these instead because I figured the coconut meat wouldn’t taste as good when not warm.) These are a coconut lover’s dream. AKA my dream. They’re basically flat macaroons with a freshness and sweet taste that are equally apparent. They’re fabulous. I can definitely see that buying these every sunday could (and most likely will) turn into a weekly ritual.


After going to the market, I headed up to CEDED for today’s Voices of Youth meeting. On Sundays, the meetings are 3-5pm. I was pretty excited for today’s, because of the activities that were planned. On Friday morning, Hannah, another volunteer Katherine and myself created the lesson plan. We started off with two “dynamicas” or ice breakers and one of them was one that I suggested! I learned as a part of LINK Crew training, which was a freshman orientation program that I participated in during my junior and senior years in high school. I was curious to see how the kids would like the games. While I wouldn’t be personally offended if they hadn’t liked it, it definitely wouldn’t have felt very good. But that didn’t end up happening. From the incredible amount of laughing and smiles, I think I can say that the name game was a success.

The main activity was Impromptu Baseball. It’s very well known in the Interact-world and most likely other leadership building platforms. Today, it was “Béisbol Improviso”. We split the group into three teams that each had about six or seven people. Essentially, someone is given a random word and he or she must speak about that topic for no more than a minute (we changed the rules a bit), and he or she cannot use filler words like “um”, “like”, take really long pauses or go off topic. The point values are pictured below and one point was taken off for each “mistake”. It was an exercise to try and get the kids to feel more comfortable with public speaking and presenting to their peers.

Below, is the final score and point values (kept by yours truly):


The kids absolutely loved this game. After someone spoke, Katherine would give them constructive criticism about how they did as well as how many points they got for their team. Everyone would get really quiet, in preparation to hear what she would say.  At the end, everyone wanted to do one more round! Their enthusiasm was infectious and my heart was quite warmed.

One of the biggest challenges that I anticipated regarding my involvement with Voices of Youth, was a potential lack in cohesiveness of activities and lessons that I’ve learned about leadership, in conjunction with the goals and values of the kids in this community. That and my ability to communicate my ideas and beliefs clearly and obviously, in Spanish. Today, I got to tackle all of the above. The name game ice breaker and today’s main activity, resulted from me suggesting them earlier this week. I even lead the ice breaker! Today was a really positive step forward in my journey here. Today’s Voices meeting gave me reassurance, confidence and a lot of hope.

With all of this said, I feel like I will soon be able to dig a little deeper into my involvement here. I’m fully aware that every day won’t be like this one – invigorating and boosting of self-esteem. I know that some days will be difficult and things won’t turn out as I will have hoped. But as corny as this little thought has turned out to be, I really believe that it’s days like today that make the not-so-great days, not so bad after all.

Catch Up 2.0

Once again, I have fallen short on the daily-update of this blog. Although, I didn’t set out to make this a daily-entry blog, I think that routine posting creates a nice sense of continuity.

On Friday, I went with Emily, Hannah and Andy to Miraflores to meet with Alisa, a current study-abroad student who will be helping format BD’s newsletter. We met in a hip cafe in town and got to business talking about BD marketing. Although before I get to that, I must describe to you what we ate! Because as many of my posts contain my experiences volunteering, I have also been having quite a few culinary adventures as well.

Everyone ordered a coffee drink and I got an “Ice Cappuccino”. I’m not usually someone who goes for the fancier drinks, but this morning I felt like why the heck not. We also ordered an appetizer of fried wanton-like dough that came with guacamole. They were so good. My drink was also super delicious – the cappuccino had been blended up with ice and had a drizzle of chocolate syrup on top. Its sweetness wasn’t overwhelming as well.

The meeting was really quite interesting. I learned a lot about BD’s goals as an organization as well as its history. I attended the meeting because not only will I be working on programs at the center, but also with BD’s Facebook page. (If you haven’t already liked them on FB, go do it!) I gained a lot of experience about how to utilize the information that Facebook gives to people who host pages about their organizations on their website due to the social media internship I had with Omprakash. I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge with BD.

The rest of the day consisted of another delicious lunch made by Martha at CEDED and horas publicas later that evening. As most Friday night tutoring has been, today was not exception. It was pretty quiet.

Saturday was another full day at CEDED. That morning’s guitar class was really awesome, because we played for most of the time. When I got there, it was only Andy and one student, Isaac. The three us of played a song by the Latin American band, Camila. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t played a lot of guitar lately because I had been so busy with school. The calluses on my fingers are no longer, so playing this Saturday was a little bit of an exercise. One of my favorite moments was when Isaac pulled up chords for a song he really liked and we proceeded to learn it together. I even got to show him an easier way to play the song by using some bar chords. It was super fun to jam and play along with the song on YouTube. About 30 minutes before the end of the class, a younger boy came. He had never played guitar before and it was great to see him being so enthusiastic about wanting to learn. We spent the final few minutes eating cake and drinking tea. Pretty great start to the day.

Now, fast-track to this afternoon’s Voices of Youth meeting. As mentioned before, there are Voices of Youth meetings twice a week; Thursday and Sunday afternoons. Today’s group had a couple of kids that also went on Thursday, but I saw a lot of new faces. We played name games and had groups compete in a competition of completing challenges while their wrists were tied together. We tested their teamwork skills and they did fantastically. I’ve only been to two of these meetings, but I’m really excited to get to know these kids better and collaborate with BD on the program’s curriculum.

Full disclosure, I would like for this to be the last time I have to make up for missing posts. I don’t really enjoy the rushed tone that these types of posts exude and they aren’t as interesting to write. I know that this being my own blog, I can write about whatever I choose, but I like to think I hold myself up to some standards. In conclusion, look forward to more consistent posts! I’m looking forward to writing them.