This week has been wonderful. The new volunteers arrived the week before, and now we have quite a few! There is Joanne from Australia, Yohan from France, Erick from Peru, Kenzie and Chris from Ohio, Dina from Canada, and Claire from Australia. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and is of different ages, and it’s a great group.
As I have talked about in another post, the HOOP NGO primarily runs it’s own after school english classes for children in the impoverished area of Flora Tristan outside of Arequipa. Here is a picture I found on HOOP’s website.
However, because this is the southern hemisphere, school is not in session, and we are running a five week long summer program. We have four age groups ranging from 5 to 15 years old, and each day, the groups rotate between art, dance/music, sports, and english/getting their feet measured. The last class is a result of Chris and Kenzie bringing money they raised in the States to buy new shoes for all the kids! Monday was the first day of this summer program. Natalie who was with me for our Machu Picchu trek had decided to volunteer with me for a week. I was given the youngest group, and luckily, Natalie was there to help me in my classroom. Usually, we have between 8 and 13 students.
The kids had a great time and we had everything you can imagine: puppets in bathing suits, princesses, kings, zombies, vampires, dogs, and baseball players.
The class runs from 10am to 11:30am, and then we take the kids out to the basketball court/play area for a recess that goes until 12pm. The court has basketball hoops, soccer goals, and a seating area on the left side that says “A las drogas dile no” or “Say no to drugs.”
They are definitely a wonderful group of children, and very mature for their age. For example, it’s not abnormal for a three year old to walk home from school by himself. Also, the siblings take extraordinary care of each other. They try to ask for the supplies in English, and they always call me “Teacher”. I am really enjoying leading a classroom and the challenge of teaching art lessons exclusively in Spanish. Even though it’s not a purely educational or academic program, it is clear that these kids need some kind of formal activity, and they definitely enjoy it!
I have been told that I can tell how much fun they are having by how often they ask to take bathroom breaks, and so far out of the whole week, I’ve only had 2 students ask!
After a solid week of working at the project, I have been relaxing this weekend. Saturday, I was fed up of eating potatoes, rice, bread, and meat for every meal, so I went to the market and bought apples, bananas, papaya, a pineapple, and mangos. I could easily eat a mango every day!
Today (Sunday), I went rafting! Jose Luis, who works here at my hostel and helps out Brad with HOOP, invited me to go with some people from his NGO, INTIWAWA. Here’s our group! (I’m fourth from the left)
This is the last day that the river is open until the rain makes it too dangerous until March. My boat had Julian, Anna, and Carlos the guide.
It was REALLY fun, about level 3 or 4, and the landscape around the area was absolutely gorgeous. It looked like something Disney World would have created with flowers and waterfalls and grass surrounding the shore.
Towards the end, there was a really huge rock that our guide said we could jump off of. It didn’t look too high, but I climbed up to the top, and it is definitely higher than a 3 meter diving board. I was already up there, so I figured I might as well jump! Here is me, terrified, while the guide is pushing me towards the edge.
Rafting was amazing, and I would definitely do it again if I could. A lot of people have been telling me that going to Lima and even Puno is kind of a waste of time, so if I don’t end up going to those cities, I will use my weekends doing more adventures like this.
Every day the city is more beautiful to me, and usually I like to go walking just before the sun sets. It’s hard to believe that it has already been 18 days, and that there are only about 18 to go, but I can’t wait to see what other adventures I can find for myself.
Written by HOOP Peru Volunteer Lead Teacher Morgan Lehr
See how you can get started volunteering with HOOP Peru here.
To learn more about HOOP Peru please check out HOOP’s Twitter and Facebook: https://twitter.com/HOOPPERU https://www.facebook.com/HOOPPeru