This a three part post of recent and not-so-recent happenings in our Peace Corps life. *All photos were taken with a point & shoot, please forgive me.*
Part 1:: Reading & Crafts Camp
During training there was a session on secondary projects given by the ever talented and amazing Peace Corps Volunteer Amy. During it Amy told us all about the reading camps she had done in her community; I instantly fell in love with the idea and decided that somehow I would make this happen in my own community.
Shortly after arriving in site I started campaigning for the camp, telling every contact along the way about this amazing thing we could do during summer vacation called “Reading & Crafts Camp.”
I found one enthusiastic follower, and with that once summer was approaching we started planning. To find kids for the camp we went on the radio, handed out flyers, taped flyers through out our town, and the best system of all: word of mouth.
Unfortunately, the more challenging part of the camp was finding children’s books. Jon and I weren’t able to find children’s books in our 60k population town, except for those in the American Culture Center that were donated by the American Embassy. In the end, I also traveled to a fellow volunteers community an hour away to get some additional books. Fear not, for in the end books were found!
The camp was divided into two weeks, the first week’s theme was “World Cultures.”
Our first task at hand with the kids was to make passports, including the first page which included a drawing of themselves with all of their life information. Every day after that the kids got a stamp for the country they visited to put in their passports. Um, one day, I forgot to print off the stamps and they were. not. happy. Shame on me.
The crafts and places we visited ran a wide gamut. Including learning about Puerto Ricans living in New York, that day we made Maracas (folded paper plates with beans inside and sparkly decorations outside) and NYC taxi cabs! Other fascinating countries we visited included Greenland, the Maldives, Mexico, and the Galapagos.
During our visit to Greenland we made cute inuits, furry coats made out of cotton balls included.
And during our saunter off to different tropical islands we learned about the wildlife found on them and made some fun tissue paper fish and a mobile with different sea animals hanging off of it. The kids were clearly not familiar with the epic mobiles by the artist Calder, they kept stating their mobiles were for hanging over a baby’s crib.
Our second week was themed “Discovering Nature.” Though, in the end, it became more whatever crafts that I could come up with that related to the few books I had on hand. The kids loved it nonetheless. We read a book about a boy, a sailboat, and his dolphin, then had fun making finger puppets for each character. Jon also taught them how to make paper boats, afterwards their boats raced each other with the help of some blowing. Oh, there was some balloon popping and toucan mask making going on as well.
For the book “Where the Wild Things Are” Jon came up with the idea of making crowns, which were a hit. There were sequins, glitter, and diamonds involved. I am still wishing I would have made my own.
We also made toilet paper animals and lion masks. The lion masks were not very well executed, but I do dare say that they were mighty scary.
While at times stressful and overwhelming I couldn’t have been happier with the results of the camp; the kids had fun, we read books, crafted, and learned a couple of new things along the way. Afterwards, the kids and the parents were all asking “When’s the next one?”
Part 2:: English Class Awards Ceremony
Our English students completed our class, clocking in more than 60 hours of class time in just a few months time. To celebrate and receive their certificates we invited the students and their parents to a little ceremony. In addition to receiving their certificates, there was much laughter and happiness as we reminisced about all of the experiences we had together in our little classroom. I also made some treats, including banana bread, chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting, and brown butter cookies (with white chocolate instead).
Part 3:: Leadership Camp
As a part of our sector in the Peace Corps we host two leadership camps per year, one during summer vacation and the other during winter. Each volunteer is encouraged to bring youth from their community to the camps. While the camps are an am amazing opportunity for the youth, finding ones that are available and with parental permission is more difficult said than done.
Thankfully, we found one amazing young lady, Lilian, who was more than ecstatic about participating. During the camp Lilian got to: meet other youth from all over the country, learn about and do community projects, go to a pool party, make this American thing called s’mores, and in general, just have the time of her life. By the end of it she and I were in tears and shared a heartfelt embrace captured by Jon.
Here we are, the three of us, ready to conquer the world. And with that, my friends, I leave you to whatever shenanigans you might of been doing before I summoned you over to my little corner of the world.