Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A trip to Baños and the first choir performance

Look closely and you can see the town of Baños (more on that below)

Hello everyone! Today the choir had its first performance and the kids did very well. The center is hosting a conference on working children and wanted the choir to open the day’s activities. We started with “Mi Chacra,” a little song about the animals on a farm. During our rehearsals the kids were having a hard time smiling while they were singing, so the other day I danced around in front them to boost the energy a little. I made up some gestures and they enjoyed it so much we decided to include the choreography in the performance. They did a great job—luckily we had prepared a second song, “La Cucaracha,” because the audience wanted to hear another one. I was so proud of the kids because the songs are in two voices (soprano, alto) and they had been struggling with maintaining their own parts. But they performed beautifully today and I’m so happy for them. I have some photos here and a video as well—don’t watch it if you have vertigo because for some reason I kept turning around in circles. I took the video after the performance and some of them were a little too excited/distracted to pay attention to my camera. The clip ends on Joel, one of my favorites (I know you’re not supposed to have favorites but I think it’s inevitable). He’s a great kid and has a very sweet smile…

This weekend we had Friday off for Guayaquil Day (to celebrate the founding of the city of Guayaquil). It sounds like we have three day weekends all the time, doesn’t it? All fourteen of us new volunteers went to Baños, a tourist hot spot named for its natural springs. We took a 40km bike ride (about 25 miles—whew!) through these beautiful green mountains. Sometimes we were on the highway and sometimes the trail led us around cliffs and through small towns—we saw a few waterfalls and ended the trip at a secluded watering hole (photo below).

Our oasis

The sun had been out all day and it was such a relief to jump into the cool water and stand under the waterfall. The bike ride was not easy and I was definitely ready to relax. It was a small paradise and I’m so grateful that we got to spend the day together like that. We kept telling each other how glad we were that all of us had decided to go to Baños together and ride through those mountains.

We flagged down a pickup truck to take us 40km back to Baños. Six people and six mountain bikes in the bed of an old Toyota. The man who took us back (older, approaching elderly) sped over speed bumps and passed anyone who was going under 60mph, but he was kind and refused payment once we arrived.

Still in love with my students, still taking things one hour at a time. I have to remind myself that even though I want them all to like me, I’m not here because I need people to like me. I’m here because they need to know that I love them and I care to listen to them and take them seriously. Sometimes taking them seriously means holding them up to standards no one has ever put them up to. For example, I expect my students not to hit each other. A slap in the face is met with a slap right back, and usually things are so overwhelming that a slap here and there goes unnoticed or seems small in comparison to everything else that needs to be attended to in that moment. Discipline is difficult and it’s my least favorite part about teaching. Yet it takes up the majority of my time—I want to figure out a way to get around it, but I don’t know if I can. Any suggestions?

Let me know how your lives are going. I haven’t forgotten about the whale video, I just haven’t gotten it from my friend yet! Wish this California girl luck as the rainy season starts to kick in…much love, Marian

1 comment:

Patrick Furlong said...

Dude, I saw the freeze frame of your video and saw Maria (one of my favorite La Marin kids ever) and got so excited. You made my weekend with that video!

Hope you are loving it!