Saturday, September 19, 2009


It’s been a tough last few days for both Pete and I at Nanta, and we are glad to have some time off this weekend. We’ve both been struggling with the inadequacies of our Spanish and some disorganization in what we are supposed to be doing.

Day 2 in the pool was disastrous! I had 12 kids this time - after a few minutes of just splashing around in the water, one of the lifeguards came up to me and explained (as best as I could tell), that the other instructor wasn’t showing up today and so I was on my own for the hour.

Good grief! How in the hell am I supposed to teach 12 Spanish speaking kids, ranging in age from 4 to 12 (and thus, their skills are all over the map), and in only 1/3 of a single pool lane? I don’t, that’s how.

Finally the lifeguard must have sensed my frustration and thankfully came over to help. Ruth (the co-ordinator at Nanta), also stopped by to see how things were going and I explained the situation to her. She promised me some help (and more room in the pool), but also said that they were hoping I soon could be the only instructor as it saves the organization money. Uh oh.

Day 3 was a little better. The real instructor was back, plus I drug another volunteer along with me who has much better Spanish then I do. It was still pretty disorganized with 15 kids, and I spent most of my time with a young boy named Manuel who didn’t even know how to float. It was nearly impossible to actually teach him anything in the limited space we had to work with, but by the end I almost had him floating on his stomach.

I came away frustrated again, feeling like I am not actually doing much for the kids. It is near impossible to actually teach anything. I guess I just have to realize that at least I am helping these kids have a good time in the pool and get some exercise. I am less of an instructor, and more of an enabler. I guess that is still a good thing – I just need to adjust my own expectations accordingly. I wish I could do more.

Pete has spent most of his time in the kitchen and/or bakery. All of Thursday morning he helped a local 19 year old named Dora making bread. They were able to communicate somewhat, but finally Dora asked: “Que seba?” (What DO you know?) after Pete frustratingly had to answer “No comprendo” to several of her questions. That afternoon he did help one girl with her English homework, which he did enjoy.

Pete really wanted to have more interaction with the kids though, so this morning we stopped by Nanta just before after breakfast to visit with the kids. Three little 7 year olds attached themselves to us, so we spent the morning chatting with them and Pete even got into a game of “tola” (tag) with them! That was pretty fun for them all. We only stayed a couple of hours though and the little girls seemed pretty heartbroken that we weren’t staying longer. I can see how many people say that this work can be addicting and hard to leave at the end of their stay.

Pete playing tag with Juan Carlos

Pete with Anna Christina and Juanita

Despite our frustrations, there are many things that make us happy at the end of the day!

- After swimming on Thursday, three little girls were fighting over who got to hold my hand on the way back to the center. One of the kids kissed my arm in the pool. Another wanted to give me a back massage. Some of these kids are just so desperate for positive human contact that I am more than happy to oblige. Perhaps I should just provide hugs for an hour instead of crappy, broken-Spanish swimming lessons!

- I found a bar that actually serves Canadian Club! Estoy muy feliz!!

- The chocolate in Sucre kicks Bernard Callebaut’s ass (and yes, it’s even better then Rosebuds Sharon!) Seriously. Oh, and it’s super cheap. I’m in trouble.

- Monday is the first day of SPRING! So (in Pete’s words) – Suck on that, northern hemisphere! =)

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there darlin'! It will get easier. Don't forget you've only been there a few weeks - you have years and years to help folks out :-)