September 12, 2012 by jiejie768
At long last, after a very enjoyable stay in Lima, Meg and I have arrived in Ayacucho. It has been quite the adventure getting here, including at 2:50 a.m. wake up call this morning for our 5:30 flight from Lima. The past few days have been a mixture of fun, discovery, some stress and a sense of transience and we are excited to finally get the chance to settle in and feel at home.
It’s been a long day and I’ll try to keep this brief so we can get some much needed sleep. But as is the case with most long days a lot has happened and I think both Meg and I feel as if our grand adventure has really started in earnest now that we have reached Ayacucho.
GeGe met us bright and early along with a brilliant blue sky as our plane touched down at 6:30 in Ayacucho. She said the past few days had been a little gray and dreary, but today was about as perfect as you could ask for. Gorgeous skies and temperatures around 75-80 degrees. More of that please.
Upon arriving at GeGe’s home, which also is the home of Kids at the Crossroads, we were shown our living quarters in the upstairs apartment which the family that owns the building has been kind enough to let us use for the next week. After that we will take over GeGe’s second-story apartment while she returns to the States for about three weeks and we will set about finding a more permanent place to live.
OK, I swore I’d keep it short, so I’ll move on the most important part of our day and do my best to brief (not a strong point of mine, whether typing or talking). That, of course, is the actual kids at the crossroads that fill up the building each afternoon. Sleep-deprived and battling some altitude fatigue, Meg and I were a little wary of entering the fray on our first day here, but our fears proved baseless as the energy of the children provided a better boost than any cup of Starbucks I’ve ever had.
The school here opens at 2 p.m. and goes till about 5 each day, and with the exception of a couple of kids who showed up a little early, Meg and I were introduced to about 40 of our new best friends all at once. It was a little overwhelming in a very good way as our size (Meg and I both stand at least a head taller the vast majority of adults) and general appearance provided a bit of a spectacle (and at times a distraction) for a lot of the kids as they went about their activities. We poked our heads into a couple of classrooms at first and got a general tour from GeGe before diving head first in the recreation room.
It’s pretty hard to describe the scene. It’s akin to chaos, but that sounds negative, which it certainly isn’t. But with about 20 kids all playing enthusiastically and attempting to draw your attention, give you a hug or entice you to play a game with them. I did my best to oblige everyone and Meg and I spent about an hour throwing toy darts, playing Candyland (a first for me believe it or not) and identifying and playing with the various toy animals at the center. At about 10 to 4 GeGe asked if we would help one of the teachers with an English lesson for some of the older kids. We happily agreed, but I have to say it about broke my heart to see the look on the younger kids’ faces as I told them I had to leave the game we were playing and help with a class outside.
The English lesson was my first real effort working with students and Meg, Jasson (the teacher) and I, took turns working with three groups of three students each. The kids were 11-12 years and old and seemed to relish the lesson and the new faces. As we rotated through my confidence grew with each group and by the end it was pretty fun asking each group what kinds of words they wanted to know and helping them try to form sentences. Many of the kids appeared embarrassed to use English and I was all too happy to tell them that when I as their age I didn’t speak a single word of Spanish, and as such they had a pretty big head start on me when it came to learning a second language. Also, I frequently reminded them that they were helping me learn to as several times they asked me what a Spanish word meant in English and I had to ask Meg to tell me before I could share it with them. It was also good to have a more organized session in which to get to know a few of the kids and really try to learn some names. That is my first big challenge: to learn all the names. It’s going to be tough, but I like to think that I can have this done by the end of a month. I’d give myself less time, but I’m not sure how easy it will be as there are not many times in which all of the students are in the same spot and it’s going to be hard to determine for sure if I’ve even met each of the kids individually for a while.
Well, there you have it. There are a few other things that happened today that I am excited to share with you (if there’s actually anyone out there reading this), but I’ve already broken my promise of brevity and I will just have to file them away for a future blog. Until the next time I’ll leave you with this: I already feel at home here and know that my anxiousness of a few nights ago has vanished. I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to help the kids here but I already know that I’m going to work harder at doing so than I have at most anything else I’ve done.