Adult English

Finals period: Adult English

As our second quarter draws to a close, Sam brings an update on the end of his first adult English course:

‘You look weird,’ our students exclaimed when Brock and I walked into Intermediate Adult English at the start of November.  I didn’t think we looked weird.  I figured we looked distinguished.  I guess I thought wrong.  ‘Why did you grow hair on your lip?’ they asked through disapproving giggles.  This was a great opportunity to explain to our students what Movember is all about. 

In case you don’t know, November is a month dedicated to the awareness of and raising money for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer, as well as depression in men (see  It has become a tradition, in November, to grow a mustache to raise awareness, thus the name Movember, or mustache November. Our group of gents down here in Ecuador decided to partake in this year’s Movember and dawn mustaches for the entire month.  It was a great success, as in we made it the whole month without shaving them off (though my English class wasn’t all that excited about it), and I hope we can all do it again next year.
An artistic rendering of the Manna men during Movember.
All mustaches aside (they are all shaved off and long gone by now, as it is December), Intermediate Adult English is still one of my favorite things that I do down here.  I teach Intermediate Adult English with Brock twice a week.  It’s very fulfilling when you can see your students improve over the course of your twelve week class.  Just last week, we were working on pronunciation and I threw in a few ‘V’ words, and my students, who would have struggled in the beginning of the class, all looked at me as if I was silly, before pronouncing the words with great articulation.  One of my favorite things about our students is that they keep a sense of humor about the learning process.  We all laugh together when working on pronunciation, which is nice because the students lose the fear of making mistakes and enjoy the learning process more.

We have had a very tight knit group in our Adult English class.  As was mentioned on the blog before, our class helped us in making the traditional drink for our ‘Dia de Los Difuntos.’   Furthermore, about half our class regularly rode the bus home with us at the end of the day, joking and trading colloquialisms and cultural observations along the way with us. 

Having now completed the course we feel exceedingly proud: our students did well and the course went smoothly overall.  We were really excited to give our students ‘graduation certificates’ and are quite eager to see who returns for the next round of courses.  All in all, it’s been a great experience and I have learned immeasurably, given that this is my first time teaching English.

Hope all is well with our readers out there.  Stay classy!   

Sweet Home Alabama in Rumiloma

In the coming days we will be posting about our experience of the police strike and assault on the president that took over national news late last week. We will also be coming to you with more pictures of the new house; but for now, this week we have another guest blog! Please welcome Sam Arkin:

¿Que pasa everyone? That is about as good as my Spanish gets—or pretty close. My name is Sam Arkin and it’s my turn to guest blog as a Manna Ecuador Program Director. I came to Ecuador fresh off of an 11 month backpacking trip that took me all over Asia, the Middle East and Africa; I thought it was a good idea to get some travel/life experience right after I graduated from Connecticut College in 2009. I heard about MPI from a friend while I was traveling, applied, and the rest is history. I’m originally from Northern California, so it might be surprising to some that I don’t know Spanish very well. I actually studied Chinese and Vietnamese when I was in school, so one of my main challenges, so far, is actually learning Spanish. As for the programs I work with, I co-run the library and teen center, as well as teach adult English and children’s art. I am also grant manager with our last guest blogger, Luke Shallenberger, who actually does say ‘pop.’ How funny is that?

So, I have the pleasure of talking about Adult English this week. I know it may seem boring, given the events of the past week (i.e. the police in Ecuador kidnapping the President and trying to overthrow the government), but Adult English is anything but boring. I teach Intermediate Adult English along with Brock Peterson. We are sort of a two headed monster, so to speak. We hold class twice a week, once on Tuesday and once on Wednesday. The class number fluctuates between 7-15, but we have a group of regulars that like to show up and laugh at our bad jokes and poor Spanish pronunciation. They are a wonderful group of people who are very supportive of each other and are very supportive of Brock and me when we butcher something in Spanish.

At the end of every class we reserve time (it is sort of a passed-on tradition) for a song. The students listen to the song and fill in the ‘blanks’ that are on a lyric sheet that we give them. In our second class, we thought it would be interesting to use Sweet Home Alabama as our song of the week. It turned into a hysterical lesson about Southern vernacular and geography, mixed in with Watergate and Neil Young. I have to say that Brock, being from Georgia, took the lead on that one. He didn’t really need any help from a Yank like me.

I hope that was somewhat insightful. Keep readin, y’all.

all good things must end

In the past two days we've had to say our first two goodbyes and it certainly hasn't been easy. I'm grateful to have a signed copy of Sarah's cross country poster and a picture of Sonia in my locket to keep me warm at night. We ended our time all together true to form, eating and laughing at each other. Award commissioner Mike hosted this year's (first annual?) democratic PD superlatives, giving out titles like Most Improved Spanish (Chet), Best Glasses (Bibi/Waldo), and Most Entertaining (Haley).

As we close out our time, we still have a few tricks up our sleeves - in the form of guest blogs and an interview of yours truly. So stay posted and don't say goodbye just yet! Without further ado, here is a touching guest blog from KP about her Adult English class:

"As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. For Adult English, the end sadly came last week. Haley, me and our students ended the course with a blow-out party complete with cake, freshly made hot chocolate with fig tree leaves, candy, cookies, cheese, and without fail, uncooked hot dogs. Yummm! All in all it was a delicious, sugar-high party filled with story telling and bonding.

Each student received an Intermediate English completion certificate and a hug from Haley and me as a special congratulations. Words cannot express how much I loved teaching this class. Not only were they my students, but they became my friends. As I look back on this past year in Ecuador, I can truly say that the personal relationships I have made with my students and the community members in general are what I will always cherish long after I leave. Thinking about leaving this country is extremely hard but I will leave knowing that I aided our students in their pursuit to learning English and that they have impacted my life in ways I will be discovering the rest of my life.

And now, it is my pleasure to present the newest graduates of Intermediate Adult English!

Ruth with Krysta and Haley, showing off her brand new diploma!

Gaston, Fabiola and Jenny making some delicious party food

Adult English A, in all of their glory!
- Krysta"

Big Steps

Just having cuddled in my bed and pulled my computer up onto my lap to write today’s Daily Life Blog, I am too tired to attempt to suppress the yawns that just keep coming out of deep in my belly. Today has been a whirlwind of a day; we successfully kicked off two new programs (adult English and women’s exercise) this evening, and everyone is exhausted yet immensely proud of MPIE’s progress in the communities in which we work.

I am going to save the more colorful details from today for an entry when I can keep my eyes open for more than 30 seconds at a time, midnight just doesn’t treat me right when trying to write cohesive sentences and/or use applicable vocab.

Until tomorrow,

(flyers advertising our two new classes adorn a light post in the San Franciscan community)