Monday, April 21, 2008

The End of a Village Adventure

Where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday I was writing the first journal entry, now we only have six classes remaining.

The morning mist burned off by noon so we enjoyed a beautiful day. We were all thrilled because an afternoon walk was scheduled, but more on that later. The morning activity in all of our classes was the same - speech presentations, then the students then selected the three speakers they thought presented the best speeches. These speeches will be presented to the entire group on Thursday and Friday afternoons.

We had a team meeting at our noon meal. Several issues were discussed, the most important being how we are doing on our “Team Goals”. We all made comments concerning each goal and how we felt we were doing. When we got to the list of items that make an effective team, it was noted that we are lacking in the area of “timeliness”. Baoli refreshed our memories as to the times of meals in the hopes that we will be better able to accomplish this.

The afternoon walk was enjoyed by all. We walked to the old Taoist/Buddhist Temples that are in caves close to a nearby village. We experienced a beautiful Spring day with blooming fields, flowers and trees. There are several caves in the area of the temple, so many students and Global Volunteers explored the area and there were numerous photo ops! Almost everyone walked a little farther down the hill and were one is able to overlook the Wei River Valley. Since time was short we were not able to go all the way to the terrace below. Before and after the afternoon walk, Ginnie, Nan, Steve and Marta met with their students who wanted extra help with their speech presentation.

At dinner Baoli posted a schedule for the teachers concerning the rotation of students to different classes for the next four days. This change will give us a chance to meet and talk with all of the students and the other way around. In addition we talked about our options for our weekend activities, but were unable to reach any conclusions before we had to leave for the auditorium were we met with the students at 7:30 P.M... Mr. An-Wei gave an excellent and moving presentation with photographs on the life and accomplishments of Helen Foster Snow, and how she influenced his life. For the first time since we have been here, the sky and moon were bright enough so we did not need a flashlight to walk home. Maybe we will have sun again tomorrow!

Respectfully submitted by: Marta Wallace, An Shang Team 160 (Read more about this team's experiences here)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chinese Teachers Say "Thanks"

Dear friends, Global Volunteers and my fellow teachers:

Another team has ended and we must say good bye. First of all, I’d like to say that I’m very lucky to get the chance to represent my fellow teachers to express our heartfelt gratitude to Global Volunteers, our honored guests. We’ve got a thousand thanks to you. But for the time’s sake, I can name only some of them. Thanks for your hard work! Thanks for your dedications! Thanks for your perseverance in work though not feeling well. Thanks for your help to us! Thanks for your well-prepared classes and speeches both to us and to the senior school students! And thanks for the wonderful time you brought us! Actually, we all feel very sorry that the time passes so quickly and we have to say goodbye to each other. How we wish time could go back so that we might learn more from you.

During our time with you, we have benefited a lot from exchanging ideas on the bilateral cultures, customs, educations and some other interesting topics. You even brought in idioms, jokes, games and songs to the class that really made us feel interested and relaxed, and what’s more, made us more like a family than a class. Most important of all, we also shared our opinions on how to motivate our students to work hard at English and on many different kinds of classroom activities and games. These in all drives us to think "outside the box" of how to learn a language and how to teach a language.

Meanwhile, I hope that, in the past three weeks, we have all done our part and have helped you know more about China. China is a fast developing country and Haikou is a nice city. I hope Global Volunteers have enjoyed their trip here and we welcome future volunteers to Haikou again. We are looking forward to meeting you again and you are always welcomed here. Let us be forever friends.

Finally, I’d like to, on behalf of my fellow teachers, send our best wishes to Global Volunteers:
May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet;
enough hope to keep you happy;
enough success to keep you eager;
enough friends to give you comfort;
enough wealth to meet your needs;
enough enthusiasm to look forward;
enough faith to banish depression;
enough determination to make each day better than yesterday!

Respectfully, "Connie"
Farewell Party of Global Volunteers Team 157 Hainan Island, China

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Waging Peace in Ghana

I’m retired from advertising and am now more involved in philanthropy. Having experienced a true “grass roots” program through Global Volunteers, I believe my giving will now always be with my own personal engagement in a locale.

The ethics of the program largely dictate how sustainable it will be, so I plan to further experience Global Volunteers and help to expand its efforts.

Global Volunteers makes very accessible, in terms of time, money and logistics, a way for individuals to come into very close contact…and almost instantly break down the barriers created by lack of understanding and fear.

There can really be no peace without understanding. What we don’t understand, we tend to fear. The reaction to fear is to create distance from that which we fear. But, by coming to understand the things we share in common, with others, we can learn to emphasize our common values and our common goals. Thereby, we minimize those differences which have defined our relationship.

This seems especially true of Americans in relation to Africa. It’s the same as the way many Americans view New York City. Reports of evil, crime, corruption and violence are greatly exaggerated and thus keep people away. Only by word-of-mouth reports from those we trust can we mobilize even greater numbers of ambassadors for peace.

-Nancy Vick, Ghana volunteer

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Discovering Toddler Love in Peru

I love it here, I really do. I want to stay longer, to learn more, to continue to be pulled from my comfort zone. I miss home for sure and I will be glad to be back...but I feel like our work is far from finished here.

It is amazing how an 8 day experience has the power to change me forever. I know after a few weeks it will begin to wear off but I can only hope my heart will forever remember the time I have spent here.There is one little girl named Taliyah and a little boy named Rinaldo who have stolen my heart. Everytime they see me they run over and grab onto my legs, smiling and reaching their arms up for me to hold them. We arent allowed to rock the kids to sleep or rub their backs because the helpers dont want them to get used to it. They again, do not have enough hands when they are alone to rock 4 kids to sleep. So when we arrive after bedtime, sometimes the kids will just sit in our arms for long periods of time, nestling their faces into our shoulders and finding comfort in the feeling of someone being there for them. They will avoid all offers of toys or games because they simply long for a human touch, just for a little while. When this happens I get a little emotional, knowing that when we leave, they wont get that again until the next volunteer group comes.

There are a couple babies up for adoption in my group. One of them, Fatima, should have no problem being adopted out. Her curly hair and joyful smile are infectious as she imitates sounds and runs around in circles waiting for attention. I only hope a family will take her in soon...People have to live in Peru for about 6 months in order to adopt. So bringing back a baby is not an option for me. Its probably a good thing because if there were no restrictions I would easily leave with them. One of my teammates asked me if I am getting sick of kids yet. I easily said no and rather, I am just growing to love them more and more.Sometimes I say the Serenity Prayer when things are driving me crazy but here it takes on another meaning...God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can;and wisdom to know the difference.I cannot change anything here in this country or at PPA. But I can change who I am and I think this trip is only the beginning.
- Ashley Dawson, Peru volunteer