The two sides of Honduras

I´m afraid that I was mixed up the last time I posted, and posted in the wrong place. You can find my other posts at http://alexesinhonduras.wordpress.com/.

Today I find myself a long ways away from where I was the last time I posted, both physically and emotionally. After spending 2 weeks translating for the medical students, I traveled first to El Progreso for a night and then to La Ceiba, where I am now. I am going to school at the La Ceiba Bilingual School for a week before I depart to the states. My host family is incredibly nice, and everyone in the whole country is very friendly, but still it´s un poco stressful for me to be immersed in the language, combined with the need to be polite and happy for my hosts. Every day (today at least), my host family and I wake up at 5 in the morning, eat a quick breakfast, maybe shower, put on uniforms, and speed off for school at a little after 6. Today we were late, so my host sisters had detention, where they had to write 1000 lines. And I thought Westtown could be harsh – but luckily since I´m an exchange student I am impervious to rules. I still felt bad for Stephania and Rossanita, because they took the punishment and didn´t complain a bit. After 8 45-minute class periods and a 15-minute lunch, all the students had an hour or so before sports began to spend time and actually talk to each other, as if they didn´t talk in class. All of the students are polite and friendly, there are just some teachers who are overly forceful with rules. During the sports time, all the soccer players, futbolistas, run onto the field and kick balls around, much more skillfully than I ever could. After that, all the girls had volleyball practice, then everyone had dance practice. By the end of dance practice, it´s already 7 PM, a horribly long day. This is a good week as closure for my trip, to really test my abilities.

Last week, at the clinic in Santa Lucia, I finally was able to be useful as a translator, once I had learned all the important words. If the patient says ¨tengo dolor de todo el cuerpo¨ it means ¨my whole body hurts¨, and then they get diez pastillas de acetomenophin o ibuprofena, para tomar uno cada dia cuando usted tiene dolor – 10 acetaminophen or ibuprofen pills, to take one every day when you have pain. It´s really not super complicated, except for when the patient tries to tell you their life story in the middle of a consult. This tends to apply to most of the patients, so it´s my job to sort out useful information that the doctors want to hear from random facts about life. Sometimes that can be hard, especially when you had no idea you were going to be a translator and only have basic Spanish training. I came out alright, because I always had help if I needed it. This week, I´m not so lucky. I´ll try to keep you posted on how it goes.

-Alex

Music Music Music!

Today I woke up late after a late Saturday night. I hung out with a lot of the collective who were playing music in one of the rooms. My camera can only take 3 second video clips for some reason, so the clips are short. Later I finished splitting all of the wood in the side lot and stacked all of it neatly away to dry. Tonight the Terminal Orchestra played. They were a 10 piece band; 3 drummers, 1 violin, 1 bass and 5 guitars. They had an amazing sound and the whole community came out as usual. Afterwards people hung out for hours.

Peace,

Henry

A View from the Inside

Sculptures, exhibition posters, and inspiring images tacked to the wall near the studio’s entrance. The cart on the lower left is filled with prints waiting to be signed.

 

Part of a finished painting and an early drawing as seen from a sitting area in the studio’s great room.

 

“Feet,” a print done by Baechler while still at Westtown School

 

Four paintings waiting to be completed

 

Early sculptures of Donald’s, and scans of source material to be used in later paintings

 

A relatively empty studio after a tour with MoMA’s collector’s group.

DAY 7 RECAP!

HEYO! It’s been a few days since I last updated you on the Washington D.C. trip. Here’s a brief overview of our last three days:

Friday–

We headed over to Food and Friends bright and early to help package groceries and meals for families of people with HIV/AIDS. The best part? The people and the snacks they offered us. Our group also makes a mean (meaning awesome) assembly line. Friday night we stayed in and ordered pizza for our last night of the week in the William Penn House before heading off  to the Holiday Inn in the southwest sector of D.C.

Saturday–

We didn’t do any service, but we did have a lovely day of reorienting ourselves with the city. Half of us decided to go to the Temple/GW basketball game at the Smith Center on GW’s campus, and later the boys went out to dinner at Nando’s Peri Peri (best chicken ever ever ever) with T. Whitney and I met up with the girls in Georgetown for cupcakes (Georgetown Cupcakes is the main hub for the TLC show DC Cupcakes, and for good reason) and shopping. We all got back to the hotel and passed out from exhaustion. The fatigue involved with walking all the time is unbelievable, but all of us are really happy about how easy it is to fall asleep at night.

Sunday–

Today we went to a United Methodist Church to prepare, set, serve, clear, and wash up after a meal for the homeless. All of us had major deja vu (shout out to Work Program oh ,) because the washing machine for the dishes was a Hobart, and all the jobs we had to do were exactly the same as those we do in Work Program every day back at school.

The weird part about today, then, was not about what we did for service, but rather what we did before service (at least for me). Call me a bad Christian, but I haven’t been to church for a very long time (if you don’t count Meeting every Thursday at school). Today we went to a Methodist ceremony, and I was having flashbacks to my childhood, when my parents made me go to church every single Sunday. It was weird, but interesting definitely.

This afternoon we did what teenagers do best– cause a ruckus in a hotel. The ten of us collectively have three rooms, and already they pretty much resemble Kansas post-twister. The boys went out for a boys dinner and the girls went out for crepes at Crepes on the Walk in Chinatown.

HOPE EVERYTHING IS GREAT IN WEST CHESTER! T. LIBBY SHOULD BE GETTING EXCITED FOR ALL THE POSTCARDS SHE’LL BE GETTING.

LOVE TIMES FIVE!
HANNAH

P.S. If you’re ever in D.C. go to the Arlington Cemetery. It’s only a 20 minute ride out of D.C. on the blue line and it’s incredibly moving. The changing of the guard is heart stopping (just make sure you don’t accidentally drop your camera over the guard rail– that guard takes no prisoners).

P.P.S. Washington D.C. is amazing.

Enough fun in Bangkok, time to have fun with the elephants!

Sorry I lied to you all, promising that I would blog. I would have, but yesterday morning Emily, Natalie and I woke up early to do laundry and grab breakfast.

Let me briefly explain what happened on day 2 in Bangkok, and if my descriptions aren’t enough, I hope my pictures will help you.

That morning, our day plan was all set. We planned on visiting the snake farm, going to Chinatown & Indiatown and going to watch Thai boxing. But, like always, we are out of luck. We got lost and weren’t able to find the snake farm. Before we got lost, we had our first  sky train experience. In Bangkok, they have subways that go above the car roads and they call them  sky trains. Wei-Hao got something similar to a water ice on the way. Everyone took a bite out of it and it was very tasty. (On a side note, mom, here are two pictures of me with friends. I am alive and having fun in Thailand!) Anyway, eventually we gave up on finding the snake farm and headed towards china town. We browsed through the streets, and saw more street vendors. We had lunch at a chinese restaurant and I had egg noodles with shrimp.

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After touring more of china town, we tried to find the snake farm again, and when we turned to the other direction and found the snake farm. The snake show was pretty cool. We saw king cobra, mango snake, etc… and at the end they let us take pictures with the snake.
We went back to the hostel to rest a little and left for the Thai boxing match. I don’t have much to say because I was asleep for more than half of the program. It was very humid in there and we did not eat dinner before. (Mom, you will see pictures of me sleeping later.)
After the Thai boxing, we did some shopping on our way back to the hostel and I got an orange purse which I am very happy about 🙂

Day 3 (which was yesterday), like I mentioned earlier, the girls got up and went to Starbucks for coffee and muffins. We left the hostel around noon, after checking out, and went back to china town to find the singing bowl place. We had our first tuktuk experience! We divided our group into 3 tuktuks and headed to “Ban Baht.” T. Deb and Wei-Hao, JM and I were in one, and Alex, Paul, David and Emily were in one, and Amadou, Peter and Natalie were in one. When my tuktuk got to the right place, we did not see the rest of the group. JM and I were stunned to not see the rest of the group there and looked for the others for a little, and T. Deb and Wei-Hao decided that we would eventually meet at the hostel anyway, so my group went to see the golden mount, another Buddhist temple.

On our way back, we got in a boat, headed to the national stadium and went to the biggest mall I have ever seen in Bangkok, maybe the only real mall. We ran into David and Paul in the mall. Us four, 2 teachers and 2 students grabbed dinner, and walked around for a while and went back to the hostel. If there weren’t enough trouble for the day, there was one more problem that we ran into. Our original plan was to leave the hostel by 8 for our train to Chang Mai at 9. T. Deb said that we should get some water and snack for the 10 hour train ride, so we went to Seven Eleven. We were taking our time, deciding on our snack but T. Deb ran in to tell us that our train was at 19:25 and she confused 7:25 as 9:25. So once again, we were in a hurry, running to the hostel, grabbing our luggage.

We lost one taxi, but ended up grabbing enough to get to the train station. We were afraid we were going to miss our train but we didn’t! The train station looked really cool. But we were in a hurry, so I did not get to take any pictures. We chilled on the train for a little bit and I eventually went to sleep around 9.

Day 4 (today!)

I started out the morning with taking pictures of everyone who were up and who were not up. We had breakfast on the train and arrived in Chiang Mai close to 10AM. We drove to the guest house that we will be spending the night at, RUX THAI, and we had free time until 7. So we browsed through the city and went to the market and got some bracelets and presents for people back home.

For dinner, we went to this fancy restaurant filled with tourists. The food was absolutely yummy and there were shows following the meal. Now I am sitting in my room, getting ready for bed. We leave for the Elephant Nature Park tomorrow morning. We are all excited to work with the elephants.

Flickr is currently not responding, so I will upload the pictures to the blog post later, but for the time being, please visit my Flickr to see the pictures! Sorry!

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February 26, 2011

Lynn

AHHHH

I’m not really sure if what I’m learning is correct or not. Sure it makes sense, logically, but it doesn’t feel right. I was filmed numerous times and told there are a lot of great things in my swing, but a few major things I need to work on. The first two days I worked with a lady, Annie, who was on The Big Break in Mexico, a show filled with contests on golf courses all over the world. She’s awesome and very patient. She stands there, ball after ball, telling me what was wrong. Every day she has given me something new to work on, which I’m excited about. But I’m not sure what my swing is supposed to look like. I’m not sure if I’m even going to know that by next Friday. I’m worried because I cannot swing without feeling embarrassed. Every ball barely lifts off the ground. They keep telling me it will eventually get there, but when I try my old swing, it’s completely worse than when I showed up. The three girls in the Academy tell me everyday that the only way I can get a lot out of the program is to be here for a few months. They have all been here since September, and have improved dramatically. It’s making me want to come for a long period of time. I keep thinking about next year and how I want to be a much better player, but I’m not sure if that is realistic. There are many post graduates here, and they play in tournaments every weekend and get lessons and instruction during the week. They have been encouraging me to come next year. I’m really interested, even though I’m accepted into college!

Because I’ve been really frustrated and worried I‘m not getting enough instruction, I’ve been pushing myself to play as much as I can. My parents paid a lot a lot of money for me to come here but I’m not sure if I’m getting my money’s worth. I wouldn’t say it is a waste but I wish I was getting more out of it. The director of the Academy told me the most I will get out of my two weeks here is a workout plan done by Atay, a Turkish trainer, pro golfer, and gymnast. He assessed me on Tuesday and was shocked that I had to work on so many things. By Thursday he made me a four-page workout plan. He taught me all of the exercises and told me I had to get a trainer when I got home to help me. It made me really worried. I’m not sure if I can even improve my swing if I don’t fix those things first.

Through all the tiredness and frustration, I still managed to have a great day today. It was my first day off, and we drove two hours to the beach. It was so nice to get away from golf clothes and bad tan lines. I laid out on the beach for the whole day and it let me think about what I really want to get out of golf in the next few years. It made me feel more confident and even though I’m nervous to start playing again tomorrow, I’m more relaxed.

I’ll let you know if my experience gets any better next week!

Obronyis

A bunch of stuff has happened since the last time I posted anything, so let me fill you in. We met the only other white people in the area, taught a few more classes at Heritage, visited Kwesi’s other school: Ochiso, got to know the town of Ajumako a little better, visited Kakum National Park, and Almino Slave Castle.

The other Obronyis (Fanti for foreigner, but more often used to describe white people) in the region turned out to be Germans, who are teaching for a year in Ghana to fulfill their mandatory service. It’s been nice having the opportunity to practice my German, which is unfortunately really rusty, even though they always answer anything I ask in English. I guess I should just be glad that I have the chance to speak German at all in Africa. Bella, Malinda and I also speak German to one another sometimes, so that we can convince persistent street vendors that we don’t know any English. One of the German’s offered to join Harrison, Danny and I on one of our morning run, and let me just say, that was definitely a mistake. Harrison chose that day to sleep in and Danny (because he’s a sprinter) left the run a quarter of the way through. This left me alone with Toben, who is significantly faster than I am, and I felt bad each time I told him that “Ich kann nicht so schnell gehen, aber du kannst so schnell wie du willst gehen, weil ich den Weg nach Hause kenne”.

Classes at Heritage have been going better in general, although I’m starting to feel a lot of sympathy for anyone who has to deal with large groups of young children on a daily basis. I definitely feel as if the children in the reading groups are learning new vocabulary, but I’m still not convinced that they can fully comprehend the stories. In each of my groups there is one kid who struggles significantly more than the others and I know that he would greatly benefit from some one-on-one time, and the other kids would also benefit because it would mean they would be able to move onto more complicated books. In general, I’ve found that I can get the kids much more involved and interested in reading if I can relate the vocabulary and the stories to things they can see around them, to things they know, and especially if I ask them to translate the words into Fanti. If they explain the Fanti word to me, then I can tell if they know the proper definition of the English word, and I get to learn a word in the process. I started this strategy on Friday, so the only word I know so far is Aho (pronounced Ahoo), which means bubble. My story and book making class is also going well and according to plan. The kids have created stories that have morals, plots, and well-developed descriptions of the characters and settings. They have also made some really amazing drawings to accompany their stories, which is especially impressive because none of these kids have had an art class of any kind in their life. I took time this weekend to correct the grammar and spelling in their stories and then on Monday I will have the kids start transferring their stories into the final books.

After lunch on Friday we visited Kwesi’s second school, called Ochiso Heritage Academy. It’s located in the bush, about 45 minutes to an hour away from the other Heritage Academy, and it serves a completely different community. One would expect the kids in the bush to be even more excited to see white people, because they’re even more isolated than Ajumako, but oddly enough they didn’t seem as interested in us as the kids at Heritage did. We said hi to everyone, then the boys played soccer with some of the kids, while the girls got mobbed by the other kids. Playing soccer with 30-40 little kids is obviously fun, but the 95 degree weather was not so much fun.

On both Friday and Saturday night a few of us walked into Ajumako (one of the local towns) to see what there was to do, and to do a little exploring. Friday night wasn’t so exciting, but on Saturday, we ran into some kids from Heritage who gave us an impromptu tour of the village. They took us around to their houses and we met their parents, all of whom were incredibly nice. It was really shocking to see where one of the boys lived. He is taller than everyone else at Heritage because his parents have enough money to provide him with a sufficient amount of food, yet his brothers sleep outside on the concrete porch with only a thin blanket underneath them, and he sleeps on a small bed frame. His bed doesn’t have a mattress, only an old square of carpet and a few pillowcases instead of a pillow. It’s difficult to believe that this is where one of the wealthier kids lives.

On Saturday morning, we all visited Kakum National Park, which is located about 2 hours away from Heritage Academy. The park is home to animals such as forest elephants, antelope, leopards, monkeys, and various insects. Unfortunately, the park was once used for logging, and was only recently turned into a wildlife sanctuary. Because of this, the animals are very skittish and almost impossible to find. We didn’t see any animals today, but the forest itself was breathtaking and different from anything I’ve seen before. After visiting the Kakum, we traveled to Almino slave castle. It was built by the Portuguese about 500 years ago, but was later taken over by the Dutch, then the English, and finally the Ghanaians. It was definitely an eye-opening experience, and is as important to remember and visit as the Nazi interment camps in Germany and Poland.

On Sunday we’re planning on attending the headmaster of Heritage Academy’s church in the morning, and seeing a local soccer game in the afternoon. Monday through Friday will be more teaching days, and then we visit Cape Coast next weekend.

Hopefully, I’ll get a few more posts up before I return home.
Kevin

P.S. Those of you who are expecting postcards: They will come, but since they take 11 days – 6 weeks to get where they’re supposed to go, you probably won’t get them until after I get back.

Quick Update

Since I last wrote we have been doing a lot of traveling. Yesterday we went to Nazareth  and visited the Church of the Annunciation and the Church of Mary. Then we rode to the Sea of Galilee and visited Capernaum, Mount of Beatitudes, and one more small church right on the lake (I forget the name). We got a chance to take some touristy picture by the lake and we all touched the water and such. The restaurant we ate at served St. Peter’s fish, so a bunch of us, including me, ate it. If you don’t know what it is, it is simply a type of fish caught in the lake that they stick in the fryer and serve with the head and all. To be honest I didn’t realize that when I ordered it.

We spend the night back in Jerusalem and in the morning we went to a church service at the Church of the Redeemer. Afterwards we had some time to do some shopping. Before I left my dad taught me how to haggle so I was excited to put my skills to use. Unfortunately, I think I let my dad down. I was too eager to buy a Keffiyeh. The man asked for 150 shekels and I got it down to 90 (about $30). I was excited that I got it down that much so I took it. I didn’t realize until after that it was way too much for what I bought.

In the afternoon we visited the organization, Rabbis for Human Rights and had an interesting talk with the executive director of the organization, Arik Acherman. Now we are all in Beit Sahour, a town five minutes from Bethlehem. Each of us are in pairs and staying with different families from the town. The family I am staying with is very nice. They have three boys who are 4, 10, and 15, and a daughter who is 18. They served us a very nice meal and then two of the boys asked Tom (the other person from our group with me) and I to teach them how to play Monopoly. We spent the rest of the night playing. They taught (or at least tried) to teach us the Arabic numbers every time we rolled, but Tom and I took a while to get some of them down. By the end, the game turned into chaos. We were all stealing each others money and finally decided to call it quits and go to bed.

طبتم مساءا (good night),

John

Snakes and Boxing!…can someone say “Thailand”

The gang and I had another great day in Bangkok, but it stared off kind of hectic. We decided to go see the milking of a snake at a snake farm. We were really tired of walking so we took the sky train, which is a subway above ground level, and the metro. After breakfast, we went out in search of the snake farm. Unfortunately as we were looking for it we passed it and missed it completely. We kept walking until we eventually got lost and missed the milking of the snake. Suddenly Teacher Deb realized that she didn’t have her wallet. She decided to go back to the hostel thinking she may have left it in the room. That made Mr. Wei Hao Wu our new tour leader, and let me tell you that was an expierence…just kidding, he’s a good guy. Oh and just so you don’t worry Deb found her wallet, it was in her room, but anyway.

Now with Wei Hao in charge the group went into Bangkok’s Chinatown. It was a lot less hectic from most Chinatowns I have seen and it wasn’t as dense of an area. Here we had lunch at a hot spot restaurant. Wei Hao and I made a deal that from now on whatever he ordered I would get as well, so this lunch ended up being very…can I say – exotic. For starters David ordered shark fin soup, which we all had a taste of. It was actually surprisingly good. Then Wei Hao and I shared goat meat, and for dessert Wei Hao ordered this dish called birds nest. Birds nest is a type of cold sweet soup, that is made up of the spit a bird creates when making its nest. Unfortunately he told me this before I ate the dessert, so you can imagine how hard it was to get down. I was able to get most of it down, but at one point my mind just couldn’t handle the texture of the bird spit.

After we ate lunch, we decided to take another stab at finding the snake farm. This time we were able to find it and we saw a snake bearing show. It was amazing to see how these people got so close to venomous snakes. It was actually kind of scary. I think the snakes were drugged though because they had a very slow reaction. After their show, the audience was able to put some snakes around our neck and take pictures. It was very cool. We looked around the snake farm a little more, and then we headed back to the hostel.

That evening the group went to a Thai boxing match. Luckily Wei Hao was able to get us ringside tickets. Boxing is a huge sport in Thailand and the difference between Thai boxing and american boxing,is that you can kick in Thai boxing. We were lucky and got to see one of the two biggest names go against each other. We got there very early, but in a matter of seconds from when the first fight began, thousands of people filed in and the arena became filled to the max. The crowd was going crazy and every time someone got a good hit on another person, half the crowd would yell/chant. It was actually very funny, because as Americans we had no idea what was going on. The fighting was very intense and we were able to see one knock out which was unbelievable. Most of the fighting was kneeing the other person, however there was some interesting moves. After boxing ended we went out for dinner, and walked around a street called Pat Pong. Pat Pong is very similar to New York’s finest Canal Street in, which there is a line of vendors selling fake goods at a low negotiable price. Once everything settled down we headed back to the hostel, and everyone slept like a baby. Now we still have our last day in Bangkok, and head up the Chiang Mai tomorrow. Thanks

John-Michael

P.S: Hey guys, I was able to put videos up, however they are not edited only because I do not have the time. I hope to edit them once I get home. These are only quick clips of the boxing match and the Snake Farm. Again I did not edit or speak  for these particular clips. I do have a few more and I will definitely try and get those up before we leave for the elephant park. Also if the videos aren’t working on the blog you can check them out on my youtube page at http://www.youtube.com/user/outsider202?feature=mhum