Tag Archives: spring break

Friday in France

by Cynthia ’18

Today I woke up to our last day of service. I was sad to leave the kids behind, as I had finally gotten to know and love them. I gave a few last piggy back rides and even received a few works of art before I left. This service experience is one I will truly remember.

After school, our French hosts took us out for a picnic where we had snacks, played Truth or Dare, Never have I ever, and just enjoyed being outside in the 60 degree weather. Then we headed to town to get some pizza, and we debated if “Texas Pizza” was really Texan. We finished our last night going bowling and Paul won both rounds.

Overall, it was a fantastic last day and I’m sad to be catching the plane tomorrow afternoon to return home. But in two weeks I will be seeing these new friends again, so it’s not all sad.

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Thursday in France

by Julia ’18

Waking up in a French household is like waking up in a movie filled with bread, nutella, kuegelof, various jams and jellies, and seeing the sun rise up from Alsace mountains… and more bread.  That’s how my day begins. Then I go to my service site at the école maternelle Charles Kienzl.

This morning Cynthia, Ethan, and I helped the children with various games, puzzles, drawings and reading books. There is one student in the class, Léon, who is constantly full of energy. The highlight of my day is being able to calm Léon down for a few minutes before he is off again. After the morning service, we met Ben, Paul, and Tucker and our French hosts at the lycée to go to lunch. The lunch at Kastler offered a variety of cheeses, bread, and yogurt. After lunch before going back to our service sites, we played card games. Then it was time to go back to our écoles for the afternoon with the bigger kids. In the morning, we help with the three-year-olds and in the afternoon, we help with the four- and five-year-olds. The older classes are learning math and doing several activities involving numbers.

After the second half of the day ended I went back home with my correspondante, but not before going to her German class. Once back home we ate dinner, played piano, and sang in a mix of French and English. Afterwards, we had dinner and then it was time for bed.

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Nicaragua March 17

Dear families,

I believe you would have been so proud of your children today. Today was their final day in classes at La Nicaraguita, and their job was to graciously and patiently receive the outpouring of affection that was likely coming their way. And come it did. The students in the preschool and elementary school showered your children with hugs, kisses, high-fives, selfies and many keepsakes and hand-written notes that communicated their tremendous appreciation for two weeks of companionship and attention. Attached with this blog are pictures of each of the GS students with their respective classes.

Tonight, we party. That is, the host families and the schoolteachers join us at Rafaela’s house for a celebratory supper and banquet-style appreciation of all concerned. And, yes, in case you wondered, there will almost certainly be dancing.

Tomorrow, we get up early and head homeward to Philadelphia, by way of Miami. It is sure to be a bittersweet departure from Nicaragua, but at the same time we are all looking forward to coming home (teachers included). Consequently, this will be our final posting from Nicaragua. We hope you have enjoyed your children’s writings, as well as Cheri’s magnificent photos. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to learn and grow alongside your sons and daughters. ¡Adiós!

Tom (and Cheri)

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Washington DC

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Even with the large amount of food that comes into hunger facilities throughout the city, there are still those in need. The sorting of donations continues daily. Bre,Pete,Omar,Jaime, and Kaelen worked for hours. More palates will be waiting tomorrow.

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Nicaragua March 13-14

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March 13 – 14

by Greg

With only three more full days remaining for our trip in Nicaragua, the truth that we soon will be departing is finally starting to settle in. Our days are definitely numbered, so it has become more and more crucial for us to take in every moment we have left.

Yesterday afternoon, we once again returned to La Nicaragüita to help with the older students. Early on in our classes, we were informed that a woman who was an abuela to a handful of La Nicaragüita students- and who lived nearby- had passed away less than an hour ago. Each class began to collect money to give to the mourning family as part of the Nicaraguan tradition of looking after one’s neighbors.  In the last class period of the day, Maia, Tali, Philip, and I all ended up in the tenth graders’ classroom and were talking with Tatiana and her friend Cheysa about love and romance (don’t worry, nothing weird). This was also when I found out that I should grow out my beard for a month because it would—according to Tatiana and Cheysa—look good. Maia and Tali both futilely tried to dissuade their Nicaraguan friends that I should stay clean-shaven, but they nor Philip was having any of it.

In the evening, we had another encuentro, but this time with ninth grade. They had really gone all out with the decorations with streamer chains, discotheque lights, and balloon clusters. They had even prepared their own playlist for us to dance to, but we were unable to hear it because we prioritized respect for the mourning family over our own desires to dance. Fortunately for us, the ninth graders had also managed to successfully setup –and receive approval for –a mini-fiesta at one of their houses for us to dance and sing karaoke at (and, yes, Cheri and Tom were both there). At the party, Tali showed off her impeccable dancing skills while the rest of us roamed about, still trying to nail down the Latin dance style. Some of the Nicaraguans were trying to teach Alexander and Philip some dance moves, but you’d have to ask them to find out how well it went (but I can say that it definitely would not have gone well if it were me). During karaoke, we sang both popular English and Spanish songs (like Love Me Like You Do, Locked Away Despacito, and Safari). Alex C was particularly emphatic when we sang Don’t Stop Believin’ together, and Cheri even participated when some of us sang our rendition of Te Fuiste De Aquí: a song she plays for her students when learning the preterite tense.

This morning, we returned to our usual classes at La Nicaragüita, but not to our usual schedules; today is el Día Deportivo (Sports Day) at La Nicaragüita, so both sections of the school get time to participate in some form of athletic competition (the exception being Alyssa’s grade with whom she had to stay back because they’re too young). The highlight of the games was the set of chimbomba competitions where each team had to run out to a chair –one by one –and sit down on their balloon to pop it (or have an older student or faculty member bounce them up and down on the balloon if they didn’t weigh enough to pop the balloon). Niccolo’s grade was pitted against mine, and we were saved for last in both of our teams. Niccolo had no trouble with popping his balloon, but I more or less barreled into my chair instead of stopping at it (spoiler: Niccolo won). Just check out the photo and you’ll understand my dilemma.

Following our classes, we went to the local health clinic to put up the posters we had colored in as well as clean up the walls. Niccolo, Alexander, and I ended up doing the majority of the taping-down-the-posters portion of the work as we’re the tallest students on the trip, so the others cleaned up here and there and had Tom help them re-make some bulletin boards about family planning and health recommendations for expecting mothers.

As I write this blog, we’re all recuperating the energy we’ve expended thus far during this exceptionally hot and draining day, preparing ourselves mentally and physically for the second half of el Día Deportivo in which we’ll be competing against the older Nicaraguan students.

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Nicaragua March 11-12

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March 11 – 12
by Alex Cavallo

Yesterday afternoon after coming back early from painting “eco-baños,” we all went to the park. We played basketball for a while until we decided to throw around some frisbees. Tali, Alyssa, and Maia quickly started a circle and threw them around. The frisbee circle broke up when they opened the gate to the soccer field for us. Philip and Niccolo were the first ones on the field as usual; I followed close behind. We were also joined by our Nicaraguan friend, Steven, who proved himself to be fairly talented. We went back to Rafaela’s house and enjoyed a delicious meal as usual.

It was then time to say goodbye, but not for long as a few of us were going to mass that night. When I got home I put on my nice clothes and leather shoes and headed to church with Greg, Tali, Maia, Tom, and Cheri. Philip, however, did not like the idea of spending Saturday night in church. This was definitely not my first Catholic mass but it was the first for a few in the group so I tried to help them understand what was going on. It was fascinating to hear the same words I had heard so many times in Church said in Spanish. I got back from church and had an awesome chat for a few hours with my host family and some of their friends. 

This morning we got to sleep in a little bit before we headed off with our Nicaraguan friends to “La Catarina,” or “La Laguna de Apoyo,” a lagoon created by a volcano. It was very beautiful and breathtakingly large. There were horses and Maia was the first one to hop on, followed by Greg and Tom. We all bought some cold smoothie type beverages that really helped us beat the heat. From La Catarina we headed off to an artisan town (San Juan de Oriente) where potters make all sorts of pieces for sale. A friendly artisan showed us how they used dirt or clay found in different parts of Nicaragua to make natural colors. It was fascinating to learn a bit about the process.  

We then got back on the bus to go home. Greg taught the Nicaraguan students a fun game that we played for the duration of the bus ride. It was great to spend time with each other again. Tomorrow, we go back to our classes!

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Nicaragua March 6-7

by Greg Levy ’18 

Following lunch yesterday at Rafaela’s house, we returned to La Nicaragüita to help out the older kids’ classes. In La Nicaragüita, the older kids (7th grade to 11th grade) have classes in the afternoon because the Managuan heat is too much for any grade to have [what we consider to be] a full day of school. Alyssa and Tali enjoyed the tenth graders’ company and had fun conversations with them. They primarily spoke with Tatiana, the daughter of Rafaela’s cook, who spoke with them about various cultural differences, like birthday celebrations. After making friends with Tatiana, Alyssa and Tali continued to speak with her throughout the day and learned Piedra, Papel, o Tijeras (Spanish “Rock, Paper, Scissors”). Meanwhile, Maia, Tom, and I read short paragraphs about Olympic athletes for the ninth grade’s English class. Since few students wanted to participate and read the paragraphs, some ninth graders unsuccessfully attempted to bargain with the English teacher to receive extra points on an exam in exchange for successfully reading one of the two paragraphs. We left the school around 5:00 p.m. and returned to Rafaela’s for dinner. After dinner, Philip and Alejandro played a bit of soccer with Joshua, Tatiana’s little brother, and honed their passing skills.

This morning we woke up—way too early, I might add—to leave for León at 5:40 a.m. Some of the 11th graders from La Nicaragüita even came with us to help with the building of pig stys! During the hour-and-a-half-long bus ride we saw Momotombo, one of the many volcanoes in western Nicaragua. When we arrived at our worksite outside of León, we ate breakfast: homemade tortillas, scrambled eggs and Nicaraguan cheese (salty and semi-soft)! One of the women at the farm showed us the process of making the tortillas from scratch, and Tali, Maia, and Philip helped make one. We then split into two groups: one stayed at the site we arrived at, while the other traveled a short distance to a different site. Staying at the primary site, Alex and Niccolo carried around bricks and buckets of sand and dirt to help create the foundation for the pig sty; they also learned how to mix concrete alongside Philip, Tali, Alyssa, Tom, and some of the Nicaraguan students that had come with us. Maia, Alejandro, and I went with Cheri in the back of a pick-up truck to the secondary building site. Along the way, we unexpectedly encountered some traffic: a herd of cows and bulls! Our driver carefully maneuvered through the herd – some of them inches from the truck—and futilely honked at the poor animals until we made it to our site. There, we also helped create a foundation for a pig sty, and Alejandro tapped into his wild side and went all-out with the digging. By the end of the pig sty building (which we unfortunately did not have enough time to finish) we were all covered from head to toe in dirt and dust and awaited the adventures that would find us in the evening.

 

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Nicaragua March 4 to 5

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by  Niccolo Alighieri ’18

After lunch yesterday, with the Nicaraguan kids and we played a typical Nicaraguan card game called “desmoche.” After five minutes of teaching us how to play, they decided that it was enough for us to start playing on our own. There were two games going on, one with myself, Phil, Alex and Alexander and the other with Greg, Maia, Tali, and Alyssa. We were underestimated from the beginning which led to us eventually winning a game. After those quick two games, we walked to a nearby park built by the Japanese government where there was a Japanese music group performing. The room was full of Nicaraguans enjoying the music as well as the air conditioning. Our next stop was another park where many kids played soccer and other activities. Intrigued by the kids playing soccer, Phil, myself, and Tom asked the locals if we could play and they said “cierto.” We told the others to play and let the Nicaraguans decide what the teams would be. Once again, our skills were underestimated which made it easy for us to beat them! Then we returned to have dinner, and went back to our families. When I arrived home, I was greeted with a full plate of cheese, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and plantains. The dish was an interesting but very tasty one.

It was now time to get some sleep before going on a lengthy adventure to Granada. So, this morning, we got on a bus, headed to Granada and Lake Nicaragua—a little over an hour away. We went with the 11th grade class and other teachers and their children. There were 30 on the bus. We split into two groups and got into two boats called “lanchas.” Our boats weaved around some of the 365 islands (“isletas”) near Granada. You all who are reading this can imagine how big Lake Nicaragua is (you can Google it!). Some islands were big, others were small, but all were beautiful. Some were for sale from $170,000 to $800,000, if you’re interested. We saw an island with monkeys and a few had egrets staring at us. We arrived at our island destination called San Pedro, with a Spanish-built fortress on it used by the Spanish to defend the area. It is where I am currently writing this. I look forward to what the trip has in store for us and to write you all again.

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France Service Trip

Ben Dorph ’18

Although tired from traveling on Friday, Saturday was a very busy, but fun day. I awoke early (about 8:00 a.m.) to go to Strasbourg with both of my French “correspondantes.” I took a quick shower and ate a breakfast of croissants and orange juice. Then we were off. Léa’s father drove us to the train station, where I met my other French “correspondante.” I was very impressed with the French trains, as in the US they are loud and slow, but in France they are fast and almost completely quiet.  We got off the train to wait for another that would take us to Strasbourg.  While there I met up with Julia, which made conversing in French substantially easier as we could discuss the proper way to say complex things.  When we arrived at Strasbourg we met up with the other groups.  The highlight of Saturday was seeing the Strasbourg cathedral as it was truly an incredible sight.  Then we split up and returned home.  Upon returning Léa told me that in France they have “Grandmother’s Day” which is just Mother’s Day, but for grandmothers. I met Léa’s brother and grandparents and had dinner with them.  The next day I was allowed to sleep late. When I woke up I had lunch with my family as I had slept through breakfast.  Then we all went to a mountain to see the view. It was very cold and was snowing with strong winds.  I was very happy that I had gloves and a hat (thanks, Mom). When we returned home I read a little and rested as later we were going to play laser tag with everyone.  After resting, Léa’s father drove us to laser tag. We split into three teams for the first round of laser tag, an American team and two French teams.  Although the American team won the first round, we lost the second (although I took first for having the highest points both times).  Upon returning home with Léa we had dinner and talked with her parents. As we both have to wake up early tomorrow, we are going to bed early. Tomorrow I will begin my service project at the Ecole Rebzumpft.

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Photos and Videos from Nicaragua

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A video of the group can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyJKlDLT_gQ

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