Veteran PDs

the beginning after the end

Everyone keeps asking what I'm going to miss most when I go home. After a number of things come into my head - the Andes, public transportation, Magnum bars - nothing strikes me as much as how much I'm going to miss the people I've grown close to. Manna's anthem is 'communities helping communities,' the latter referring to the six communities we work in and the former, and most important to me, the community we worked hard to form amongst the ten of us.

Working in Rumiloma has shaped me in more ways than I can count: I learned how to upkeep an organic garden, how to teach someone to read in a foreign language, what it means to understand and value a culture completely different than my own. Even though I have the utmost confidence for our PD successors, it is indescribably difficult to say goodbye to MPI. What's been equally difficult is watching all of my housemates leave for the states, one by one. And so, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them individually.

To Mike for his open-mindedness; to Erik for his daily bear hugs; to Haley for her compassion; to Sonia for her contagious humor; to Chet for his quick-wit; to Shawn for her adventurousness; to Sarah for her organizational leadership; to Krysta for her spirit, and last but absolutely not least, to Bibi for her patience, guidance, and unfailing, diplomatic leadership. Thank all of you for helping me feel comfortable in a foreign country, accomplish my personal and professional goals this year, and for helping me grow into who I am leaving Manna and moving into the future.

I also would like to thank all of you you so much for your dedication this year. Without your support, none of what we do would be possible. Since visuals do a much better job at summing up this past year than I ever could, please enjoy my version of 'the year in pictures' followed by the Despedida/Bienvenida slideshow we screened last week to say goodbye to our beloved community members.

A twilight view of our beautiful home city of Quito

All decked out for summer camp field trips

Water balloon toss at our January Celebration

Paola shows off her work during Art class

Bibi reads to Samantha and Ronny

Chester Polson, ladies man through and through

The graduates of the Alimentate Ecuador Nutrition Class

There is nothing I will miss more than family dinners...

Two of our favorite teens, Joseph and Carlos, atop Ilalo

Los Profes de MPI 2009-2010

Trying to keep it together as Bibi speaks at the Despedida

Forever in our hearts, Ecuador

Qué vive los años siguientes (to the years to come),

Radio Charla with the new PDs!

Guest Blog champ, Krysta Peterson, has provided us with one last guest blog. Tomorrow will be my last post as we pass on the reigns to the new bloggers, Noel and Hannah! Enjoy some parting words from Krysta, and Happy August!

"Good Morning Sangolquí!

As you all know, the new PD’s have infiltrated Quito and we are starting to pass our wisdom onto them. Last Thursday, I took 2 of the new PDs, Jack and Noel, to the Sangolquí radio station, Super K, to meet Oswaldo and give them a go at their first radio charla. Jack will be taking over my position as ‘radio head’ next year and let me be the first to say I couldn’t have passed this job down to a better person. With this enthusiasm for the job, I have no doubts he will take the position and our relationship with Super K to a whole new level!

Jack and Noel flawlessly gave July’s radio charla on nutrition. They were so relaxed and had not only me, but also the DJ Marcela, laughing the entire time. After their charla I don’t know who wouldn’t want to come hang out at the library with them this coming year! Manna is in for a great year if all programs are treated with such eagerness and motivation as Jack and Noel showed at the radio. I will admit I was worried to be passing on my programs, my babies, to the newbies but I can honestly say I am confident they will take care of business and do things I never even imagined.

Good luck this year Jack!"

Jack and Noel discussing nutrition

Krysta and Marcela, the SuperK morning DJ

- Krysta

Interview a PD: Jackie Weidman

Finalmente, I have finished the last of our "Interview a PD" series. Let me tell you, it is not very much fun listening to yourself say 'but um' during each question, but um, I got through it!

Please pardon the change of location and the screaming kids in the background (the reason why we changed locations). The neighbors below we're hosing down their buck-naked children to clean them for lice. Oh the joys...

Enjoy the interview; many thanks to everyone who sent questions for all of us PDs! You're all awesome, and we love you.

- Jackie

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"