"Although all the PDs here in Ecuador love the hour and a half spent daily working with the local kids in our Apoyo Escolar class (except when they have math homework...yeah, I might need to review fractions…), 4 PM still brings a small sense of relief. All the kids in the class are great, but seem to have a wee bit more energy than all of us…put together. Today, however, the chicos didn’t all magically disappear when class ended at 4. Instead, we had an hour to set up before the families arrived for our 'fiesta familiar', while also dealing with the craziness that is 7 – 12 year olds. “Jonathan, stop bouncing the ball against the windows”, “Jorge, don’t put your finger in the projector”, "Dilon, get your hands out of the fruit salad,” are just a few sample phrases from that hour of “set-up.”
When the families finally arrived however, everything did become a little more tranquilo. The children were suddenly better behaved (surprise, surprise) as soon as their parents walked in the door. The food (thanks Holly) was served, families were seated, and a quick game of chess between the combo teams of Dana-Carmen and Santiago-me was played (I blame Santiago for our loss).
Once everyone finally settled in, team Ecuador took the stage as we all introduced ourselves to the parents. Seth then gave a very rousing speech discussing our goals and methods of Apoyo Escolar, after which Marco expounded more on our organization in general. Finally, our friend Fabián Gualotuña, director of the local financial cooperative, talked briefly to the parents, expressing his desire to put a portion of their monthly class dues into an account at the co-op to encourage savings.
After spending the past 3 months with all their kids, it was great to finally meet the parents and see their nodding approval as we explained what it was we actually did with their kids everyday. The evening was capped off by the laughter that rang through the Casa Barrial as we ran a slide show of mostly ridiculous pictures of the kids taken by Holly, our (semi)-official MPI Ecuador photographer. Thus, we said good-bye to families, packed up everything, and began the trek home. As I write this entry, we are all finally home in the Manna abode, tired from a long day. Jocelyn’s baking a cake, the guys are contemplating playing Risk, and it is rainy. Sounds like a pretty typical evening in Conocoto.