Updates from the Field
Spotlight on Service - Caitlin Quinn
Posted Apr 14, 2014
Instead of working exclusively at a single work site, my Bridge Year Program Brazil companions and I have volunteered for varying amounts with several different partner organizations. Our service placements include daycares, orphanages, an HIV/AIDS clinic, and a shelter for homeless elderly women. Each organization features a unique work environment and a cast of diverse characters. Each seeks to address a specific need, struggles with distinct challenges, and asks volunteers to serve in varying capacities. While I have learned and grown from my experience with each of these organizations, my most challenging, meaningful, and rewarding moments have occurred at my primary service placement: a community school where I teach English.
My classroom — where I team-teach with Eli, another BYP participant — is a tiny room at the back of a parish building, which functions as a sort of community center for the surrounding neighborhood. Our classes are free and open to the public, and our students range in age from eight to nearly eighty.
For more, click here.
Group Update from Brazil
Posted Apr 8, 2014
Salvador is a city of contrasts. For the past seven months, we have observed and reflected on the city’s many socioeconomic, aesthetic, and cultural disparities in an attempt to make sense of our experiences here in Brazil. With this in mind, we decided to focus our second group update on the theme of contrasts.
Thursday, January 29. 10,800 seconds of scraping left (3 hours). 122 more days on BYP.
Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.
Day four of summer cleaning at the preschool Frutos de Mães, and we're running out of time to get the building ready for the new school year. Painting, sweeping, and doing odd jobs galore, the rest of the staff and I are working hard to make every classroom clean and sparkling. Unfortunately, previous teachers glued classroom decorations to tiled walls, which means January 29 is day four of summer scraping for me.
For more, click here.
Spotlight on Service - William Hinthorn
Posted Mar 31, 2014
I work at Little Stars School (or Rishi Pragatisheel Shikshan Sansthan) which is a nonprofit school that offers a high quality education for little to no fee to over 870 students from the low caste and poverty stricken families living in the bastis (slums) of Benares, Uttar Pradesh. The school was founded in 1996 by a woman named Asha Pandey on the roof of her parents’ house as a means of keeping the children of the rickshaw wallas in school and up to speed with national expectations. Though India in theory has free primary education, fees for uniforms and school supplies often keep the poorest children from being able to attend, and patchy teacher attendance and class sizes that can reach over 100 students make learning impossible for these children. Families who struggle to buy food often force their children to beg to bring in a handful of extra rupees per day at the expense of opportunities to improve later in life.
Little Stars strives to maintain low class sizes and retain teachers who are creative and invested in building relationships with students and their families, helping the slower students catch up, and providing the children with solid academic and vocational skills which will help them in the future.
For more, click here.
Group Update from China
Posted Mar 26, 2014
We have grown to love the city of Kunming. Our large city, with a population of six million, fascinates us with its rich culture, which is a blending of modern developments and ancient traditions. We decided to each write about a different road in the city, and reflect on how these roads have contributed to our experience.
I am lost.
Well, the group is – we’re trying to get to the bus stop, but we’ve turned the wrong way and now we’re wandering around in circles between apartment complexes. These winding alleys aren’t true roads, and I’m not sure what their names are. I can feel that everyone is flustered; we want to make the bus on time but it seems as if we have entered a maze.
I, too, share their frustration, but I am distracted by an overpowering sense of déjà vu that hits me as I look around.
For more, click here.
Spotlight on Service - Delaney Thull
Posted Mar 10, 2014
On a chilly early summer morning in January, I traveled to Huycho, a community of about 140 households. I went with Ober, the Cleaner Burning Stoves Project supervisor, and Ernestina, the Water Filters Project supervisor. The three of us were holding a charla with the community leaders to present the projects and gauge the community's interest in working with our NGO, ProPeru. We found ourselves seated on a small stage in the front of the village sala. Facing us, 12 women were seated along the left wall and 25 men were seated along the right. Ober and Ernestina led the meeting in rapid Quechua, with a sprinkling of Castellano Spanish added in. They explained how the stoves and filters function, as well as how they benefit health, family finances, and the environment. Afterward, we shook hands and greeted every person, leaving with the promise of returning the following week.
Spotlight on Service - Alissa Lopez Serfozo
Posted Mar 3, 2014
NIRMAN is truly a place that unveils itself to the willing participant. My first time stepping onto the colorful campus as a new intern, I felt apprehensive towards the rather overwhelming amount of opportunities available at my service site. My supervisor asked directly, "What do you want to teach here?" Frankly, I did not know where to start, so I just started.
All-throughout my first month, I immersed myself in the fast pace of teaching English and Arts to students of the primary section. I assumed that I had found my steadfast niche. Five months later, I realize my role has stayed the same in some aspects, while also having evolved dramatically.
I still teach the same two subjects, but have taken on additional classes in the secondary section (my classes range from grade 2-11). Moreover, the contributions I make to NIRMAN's community extend beyond the classroom.
VIDEO Group Update from India
Posted Feb 26, 2014
Our winter trip to Rajasthan, a state located on the Indo-Pakistani border, was a winding journey through historic cities, open landscapes, and rural villages. It was a trip that proved both beautiful and affecting. For our second group update, we thought nothing would better capture our thoughts than a video documenting the stories and experiences we collected throughout our two weeks there. The first leg of the trip took us through vast natural expanses to the old fort cities of Jaipur and Jaisalmer, and the second portion centered on our stay with the Garasia tribe near the Rajasthan-Gujarat border. Through the powerful connections that we made and experiences that we had, these sites in Rajasthan have become far more than just places on a map to us. We hope you enjoy the video, and feel for yourselves the wonder and awe of Rajasthan and its peoples.
Group Update From Peru
Posted Jan 30, 2014
Marking the halfway point of our program in Urubamba, Peru, we have decided to theme our second group Update from the Field on the complete sensory experience of living in the Sacred Valley. We hope our reflections on smell, taste, touch, sound, sight, and the sixth sense can provide a window into our daily lives and some of the encounters which define our time abroad.
Delaney Thull - Smell
A few weeks ago, I visited with my younger sister at home. She and her IB English class were discussing the following observation from Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible. “The air is just blank in America...You can't ever smell what's around you, unless you stick your nose right down into something.” My sister asked if this was true.
Group Update from Senegal
Posted Jan 22, 2014
In an amusing effort to be creative, our group has decided that we will all don the guise of our more edible counterparts (though I am sure my body is just as edible as a lime, it’s simply not socially appropriate to say so), and act out as parts of ceebujen - a delightfully dangerous and dangerously delightful dish and somehow relate it back to our experiences in Senegal. Heavy-handed metaphors have never really been a forte of mine, as such, for the sake of this much desired notion of creativity, I shall go where no human has ever ventured before; I shall abandon my humanity and assume the identity of a lime. Not just any lime, but a lime that can type!