Departure! The countdown is on...

February 19, 2009

Fundraising - The Sun is Shining

This week being reading week, I have been home and finally been able to devote more time to further my fundraising efforts.

First of all a big THANK YOU goes out to all of my immediate family for supporting me in this. I love talking and sharing with you what I will be doing this summer, thank you also for all the e-mails and well wishes. You are wonderful :)

Also THANK YOU to Holy Family Parish in Hanover for graciously allowing me come and speak at mass later in March to request donations, and for helping to tie in my trip with the youth mission trip that is being planned.

I also owe a big THANKS to all of my friends and family who have taken the time to read my blog. I guess I had the idea that no one would really be interested in reading it, but after receiving comments from some, and e-mails from others, I know these entries do not go unread and I love to hear from all of you. Thanks.

Lastly, a little update. While at home I have delivered several letters to various groups and organizations in hopes of receiving donations, and have a few more to send out. Today I am feeling confident that I can attain my fundraising goals, and this is a wonderful feeling. Up until now I have been a little worried that I didn't have enough contacts, but after talking to several people who suggested clubs and organizations that I hadn't even thought of I am feeling much better. Also, with a fundraising plan set up for mid March through Holy Family Church, I am really starting to feel a ray of sun starting to shine.
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Thank you everyone for all your help and support, I am truly blessed to have such caring and wonderful friends and family :)

February 11, 2009

Slideshow - A Few Basics

Hi everyone,

I just thought I would post the slideshow presentation that I gave in class. This presentation is just general information that I compiled about Ecuador and its culture.

enjoy :)

February 9, 2009

Lessons Learned

I was at the Working Centre on Thursday for another wonderful time with the Speak English Cafe!There were almost 50 people who came out, the place was packed! I met a few new people and had to 're-meet' many of those whom I met last week because I had forgotten many of their names.

The activity for the night was very fun for such a large group. We were each given a sheet with 20 questions on it. We and to go around the room and find someone who could say yes to each question. The tricky part was that each person could only sign your sheet once. This was an excellent way to meet many new people and learn something about them. Next we had discussion questions again which we answered in small groups.

I still can't get over how relaxing it is to go there. It seems like when I am there, I stop worrying about all the things I need to get done for school and just have such a good time in the presence of others. I think I mentioned this in the last post, but I find myself fascinated by the kindness of everyone who attends. I tis refreshing to be able to be in the presence of others without technology and other gadgets to interfere. It is amazing to have such face-to-face conversation, not msn, facebook or telephone. I've learned so much from those I've met and I've only been twice!

Lessons learned:
- do NOT apologize for saying something that isn't wrong: When I first arrived at Speak English Cafe I paid special attention to speak clearly and use standard vocabulary, no slang. We were discussing summer activities and I was saying that my sister and I often go biking together. The participant asked me what biking was, and I said "Oh, I'm so sorry its bicycling", immediately one of the other volunteers stopped me and said: "don't apologize, the only way she will learn is by hearing vocabulary from you." I realized she was right, I hadn't said anything wrong, and my trying to speak only proper English wasn't going to help others who were out in the world hearing the slang and dialect that we speak, not necessarily proper English all the time. It is important to use words that are used in everyday conversation. When a participant asks a question because they don't understand a word they are learning, and they are able to put that word into context in the sentence that it is used in.

This also made me think of the time in class that we were discussing and someone mentioned an opinion and apologized. I remember Scott telling us not to apologize for our opinions and this helped to reinforce that lesson.

- Be open: Sometimes it is hard for me to open up to total strangers, I'm often fairly quiet in settings where I don't know anyone else. In the first two weeks at the Cafe, I have learned many things about each person I have met and talked with. Many of the participants are very kind and love to talk about their life experiences and travels and such. I find this makes people much more approachable and easier to talk to and relate to. Also, as a result of hearing these stories from others I tend to open up and tell my own stories and I find myself sharing much more easily than I normally would.

- Just talk: In this setting it isn't always important to follow the discussion questions or specific instructions for each activity. These things are general guidelines to initiate conversation. At the end of the night it doesn't matter if you followed the sheet perfectly and answered all the questions, it matters that you had conversations with others to help them to improve their vocabulary and understanding of the English language. Often I find that what starts out as the answer to a question turns into a conversation about many different topics with the questions forgotten.

As always, I can't wait to go back :)

February 4, 2009

Speak English Cafe

Last Thursday was my first time volunteering at the Working Centre and it was absolutely wonderful! I enjoyed myself soooo much! I volunteer in the Speak English Cafe, a program for non-native English speakers to come together with volunteers who speak English well, in order to learn English in an informal environment. Here the learning is done primarily through dialogue. Last Thursday, for example, There were four stations set up around the room, each with a picture of a different sport taped up on the wall. The sports were swimming, baseball, volleyball and soccer. A question was asked to the group at large (i.e. What is your favourite sport to play?) and everyone got up and moved to the appropriate group. Then a few minutes followed where everyone discussed in groups why they liked to play this sport. A second question, what is your fave sport to watch on TV was asked and again everyone moved and discussed. Later, the categories were switched to favourite fruits and then to favourite hobbies. Then, we all sat down around tables and followed a handout of discussion questions about summer activities and vacations.

I found that this was such a wonderful environment. Even though I had never been before, everyone reached out to me, introductions were made and conversations about anything at all took place. I met some of the most incredible people. And the best part was that I didn't necessarily teach or accomplish a lot, it didn't take up a significant amount of time, but it really made my day. When I was asked at the end of the night if I would like to come every week or every other week, I didn't even hesitate to say EVERY WEEK!

When I think of my time spent there I think of Freire and his insistence of the importance of
dialogue. Many of the people I met were not rich in the sense of worldly possessions, they were not the type of people I would normally approach. But when I think about it, these people were so full of joy, so willing to reach out and accept a newcomer in their midst, they listened when each other talked (and I mean really listened). At the end of the night the thing that stood out to me most was how fun it was just to BE with others.

I didn't go with an agenda or a to-do list. I didn't have a particular purpose, but I still feel like I accomplished something very great. My accomplishment:
simply being present.