After four completed weeks, I’d hit the half way point and was settling into a routine – nine sessions a week over three projects – but all that was about to change.
First off, we welcomed two more volunteers to make a total of five. Malte joined us from Hamburg and Lizzie (from Sale!) returned to work with UpClose after spending several months here in 2012.
Monday is normally my day off, but after a weekend of procrastinating I still had an English lesson to plan. But even that had to take a back seat after I received this email from Kaya (the volunteering organisation who arranged my trip).
I quite enjoyed answering the Telegraph’s questions – finally writing down what I’d told dozens of people over the last few months. A few days later, I learned that they ran the piece in the online edition (here), but I’ve also posted my full response on my blog (here).
Aside from my unexpected cameo in the national press, the English classes dominated my week. Although Justa assured me that nowhere near 50 students would show up, I wasn’t so sure (hope for the best, plan for the worst as Jack Reacher would say). But, as ever, Justa was right and we only had seven. The lesson was mainly for me to gauge the students’ level to plan future lessons and I found that all of them were beginners or even complete newcomers.
Teaching on Tuesday/Thursday means I won’t be at the Children’s Centre on those days, restricting my attendance to just Wednesday morning. This week, however, it was agreed I could miss that session as well, so that I could plan not just my next English lesson, but my next series of lessons. I was fairly happy with my progress until I found out I’d be flying solo for the next two – it was time to start scripting instructions!
Thankfully my preparation for Thursday’s class paid off. I had 11 students this time and it went well, even when I introduced a game of 21’s (the non-drinking version).
We made flags to celebrate El Día de la Bandera and did origami in the classroom sessions, but this week’s highlight came on Wednesday. We played a game that I first played a few years ago at a Higgi family get-together. I don’t know if it has a name, but the children took it in turns (randomly, based on the roll of a dice) to dress up in a huge jumper, scarf, hat and gloves and then use a knife and fork to cut pieces from a bar of chocolate against the clock. It probably sounds a bit daft, but the children really enjoyed it!
On Wednesday evening, Laura, Constança and I had the pleasure of accepting a dinner invitation at the house of one of the Porvenir families. Their daughter has provided me with some of my favourite moments of my trip (eg the sack race from week two) and the parents are incredibly nice people. To our delight, we also discovered that they’re pretty handy in the kitchen and I enjoyed the best meal I’ve had in a long time (I had fourths). We had a very enjoyable night – thanks again Raul and Fabiola!
Thursday was party night in Jupapina, but it was also tinged with sadness as it was Laura’s despedida. Everyone contributed some food apart from me (beer, wine, coke and lemonade instead) and we had a nice little feast. The guest of honour finished it off in style with a delicious chocolate cake.
And that nearly brings the blog up to date. After a relatively uneventful Friday session at Porvenir, I packed a bag and went into La Paz to catch the overnight bus that I’ve typed all this on. My next blog will hopefully have lots of pictures from the Salt Flats!