Let me start this post with an apology. I know we’ve gotten behind and left you, our loyal blog reader in the dark for over a month, but it’s our New Year’s resolution to get back on track, so I’m starting early, here we go.
It’s been a very busy end to the school year, especially since it overlapped with Thanksgiving and our trip home to the US. Friday, November 11th was Kinder graduation. It was a fun night and lots of the hogar girls graduated.
All the Kinder professors with Madre Clara.
Yusel, Lulu and I before graduation.
Friday November 18th was Institute graduation. At mass beforehand, Tom and I took our ‘compromiso’ or promise to join the local OFS (Order of Secular Franciscans) chapter for the next year. We hope it gives us an opportunity to do faith-sharing and activities with more people our age. Later, Tom graduated his second class of graphic design/multimedia students. My English students are going to continue for a second semester and graduate next June, as we determined 5 months was not sufficient for basic English. It was a fun graduation mostly because I had been able to get to know many of the students over the past year as many of their children were at the Guarderia and we saw them at the Expositions. I also volunteered twice as a model for the beauty class. One of the beauty students invited us over to her house afterwards for a graduation party. In consisted of a big dinner of pork, yucca and rice (really good, we both cleaned our plates), lots of beer drinking and some dancing. It was nice to see a little more of what family-life is like in Montero but we couldn’t stay too late since we had Thanksgiving the next morning.
Tom congratulating one of his top students at Institute graduation.
Saturday, November 19th all the Salesian volunteers gathered in Montero for our yearly Thanksgiving celebration. We made turkey and pumpkin pies and they brought all the rest. It was a really good meal and we had a record turnout of 19 people! The rest of the day was spent eating desserts little by little and playing fun group games.
The Lineup. Front row (L to R): Amadita, Angela, Giorgia, Ramona, Katie, Fionn, Aubrey, Judy, Me(Laura), Marcelle, Susan. Back row (L to R): Eric, Eric, Fr. Matthew, Marcos, Tom, Amber, Monica. Sr. Anna is missing.
On Sunday, we continued to spend time with the visiting volunteers, we had an intro session for the OFS and my new hogar project finally got off the ground! In September, I got the idea of starting a store or ‘venta’ at the Hogar so that girls could earn points to buy things. They receive presents twice a year: Christmas and Birthday but get little choice over what they get. So after a few months of planning and buying things the store opened! The first week sparked lots of interest but sales were slow, we sold 6 packets of shampoo, and a bouncy ball. I went out of my way to buy lots of fancy jewelry and hair things, but it was amazing to watch how very practical the girls are when they’re spending their own currency. Having your own shampoo is a luxury valued more highly than hair clips or toys. I’m excited to see after a few months what the sales trends are. I think you really can learn about someone by watching their shopping habits. It’s all decision-making, priorities, weighing your options. They want to get the most value for their tickets.
On Monday we had the end-of-year or ‘despedida’ party for the professors of the Institute and Kinder, Tom and I turned in our final grades and closed out the 2011 school year! (It does make paperwork easier here that school years only span one calendar year) Tuesday we got up early and 18 hours later landed in Minneapolis, MN! We spent Thanksgiving with Tom’s family and will spend another two weeks visiting friends and my family before we fly back to Bolivia Dec. 13th.