children's art

Rumiloma kids take on the masters

This week Zoë brings us an update from one of our most popular programs.  Stay tuned in the weeks to come as the Manna house will be filled with our fabulous summer volunteers!

Greetings from Ecuador to all of our readers! Although we find ourselves with only 3 months left as Program Directors with Manna Project, our programs continue to gain momentum. Today I am going to update you all on the one class offered to children still too young to read and write: Arte para Niños! Children’s Art!

Our mission to promote within our community the value of art, which is exceedingly hard to come by in Ecuador’s public schools, seems to be reaching further because our enrollment has increased and attendance has become more consistent. Increasing enrollment has been a central goal of the art team since August, and Luke, Sam and I are very pleased to see results. Most satisfying, in my opinion, is that the same students are returning to class every week, which really indicates that they value the lessons and projects we do in art class and that it’s not just a fun hour with paints that students attend sporadically.

We have recently changed our curriculum. The previous three quarters we focused on different regions of the world, choosing art projects that reflected local culture and typical art forms from those regions. This quarter however, we are focusing instead on specific artists. Each class we present a small lesson about a different artist, and then do an art project inspired by him. At the end of class, we ask students questions and reward correct answers with pieces of candy in order to encourage retention of the information we offer them in the lesson.

By focusing on particular artists, it is our hope that our students will gain more appreciation for art as a medium of individual expression. They will see how the works of different artists from different eras and different continents vary in use of color, tone and style.

Finally, it is a continued goal of ours to encourage creativity and independent work. Many students, particularly our younger students who accompany older family members to class, tend to mimic the projects of their peers. We want to create a space in which students build up confidence in their own ability to be creative and create an art project on their own. Furthermore, we wish to reinforce that there is no “correct” or “right” final project. This may be the only class they attend in their childhood where this is the case and they are not encouraged to follow a strict set of rules in order to produce a final product.

The art team is very excited about how Children’s Art has progressed over the past few quarters, and we are also looking forward to seeing how our students respond to learning about a variety of influential artists!  Here’s to looking ahead!

Art at the MPI Ecuador Centro

Luke brings you today an update on our thriving children's art program.
Our art program attendance has nearly tripled since Zoë, Sam, and I took over the class in late August.  This is largely due to our push to advertise our art program within the library space.  The biggest promotion has come in the form of our monthly library parties, where we host a craft hour within the library open to all children who are interested in participating. 
Our children’s art program serves as a creative outlet for the children that frequent our library, and has quickly become one of my favorite programs that we run here in Ecuador.  As a supplement to the Ecuadorian school system in the way of creative thinking, I believe this program is extremely important.  And let’s be honest, it’s fun to spark the artistic bug in children which often times results in them getting paint and glue all over themselves. 
As well as stimulating creative thinking, another goal of our art program is to increase cultural awareness through focusing on art projects from around the world.  Each art class is preceded by a brief charla on the cultural region, art, or ethnic group that we have chosen to focus on.  Thus far we have focused on Native American art, where we did numerous projects including the construction of tipis; Asian art where we made origami frogs – they could actually hop! – Middle Eastern art where we made pyramids out of caramel, which later melted in the sun (bummer); and our current focus of South American art, where we are emulating art projects from famous South American artists. 
Our children’s art program serves as a learning tool, a vehicle which inspires creativity, and a fun class that creates a light atmosphere for children from different neighborhoods to enjoy each others company.

Week(s) in Review

A lot happens in the weeks that lead up to spring break, including running around Quito writing down directions, finalizing trip budgets, and setting up bunk beds / moving me and Erik into the house for the month. Thanks to Haley and the other group leaders, we feel pretty confident that things will good pretty smoothly come next Friday!

In the midst of all the planning, a number of other things have been happening that we've neglected to mention - a myriad of enthusiastic art classes, Erik's birthday, really professional grant writing meetings, and a fantastic visit from SETH! - Felicitaciones from the Manna house to him and his fiance, Johanna, who got engaged just a few weeks ago right here in Quito! I smell a reunion for your wedding (wink wink)?!

Here's a rundown through pictures of what we've been up to...

Erik turns 22, holler back youngin'!

Sarah and Bibi duke it out to see who gets to write the Gates Foundation grant (other match ups include: Mike vs. Chet, Haley vs. Krysta, more or less everyone else vs. Bibi)

Lucia, Marjorie, Johanna, Seth, and Shawn celebrating in Quito!

All of the art students hold up their masks in-progress

Emily and Mateo painting away

Wendy decorates with style

Stay tuned this week for notes from our first home stay, a rundown about a new 6th grade nutrition/class garden education program starting on Tuesday, updates from preventative health progress... and of course, spring break arrivals on Friday!

until next time,

Nutrition, Art, and Everything in Between

This week's guest blog comes from Sonia Patel (or Soña as the library kids like to write), our token vegetarian. For a petite person, Sonia's laugh and/or screams can be heard all the way from the apartment. Sonia leads weekly inspirational nutrition charlas, helps run Art class, goes out of her way on a daily basis to make sure she does not step in animal feces, AND is in the process of applying for Med school. Not to mention, wrote us a guest blog during quarterly report week. For all of these reasons as more, I adore her and after reading this I know you will too!

Krysta, Sonia, Dunc and Shawn way back when in Mindo

"When I first came to Ecuador, I reveled in the beauty that surrounded me, from the geographical setting of the Andes Mountains to the colorful clothing of another culture. There was so much to observe and reflect upon that during my first couple of weeks, I found myself exhausted and ready for bed at 7:30p.m. much like a newborn baby. As time passed, I metaphorically grew up; my senses were no longer faced with a slew of new sounds, sights, and smells left time and energy for a more productive organ: my brain.

Deciding which major to pursue at the University of Virginia, was one of the most conflicting and confusing tasks I had to accomplish, precisely because there were too many options. In my biology classes, I felt as if a philosophical background would soften scientific thinking. While in the economics classes, I know that a sociological study would strengthen economic theories centered on human behavior.

I was finally absolved of the restrictive feelings and college mandate of specialization when I began working for Manna. Anything was possible and like a greedy child on Thanksgiving I piled a varied assortment on my plate: I'm working with Sarah on opening a preventative health clinic, co-teach Children's Art classes with Chet, giving nutrition presentations before Haley's yoga classes, occasionally acting as Jackie's gardening partner, shadowing the emergency room at the public Sangloqui hospital and supporting Krysta on the beginnings of a nutrition program at Aliñambi.

Such an agenda provides for constant knowledge and entertainment. For instance, I learned that doctors are required to work for a year in rural communities, most Ecuadorian meals are not balanced with enough vegetables, Jackie accidently killed (and mourned) the one worm we found for composting, and that in every art class one particular girl will cut out her drawings and hang them by a string of yarn.

However, using that productive brain doesn't completely suppress the inner child within. Whether it is indulging myself in the pleasures of a Magnum ice cream bar (America you are really missing out... a comparison to say Haagen-Dazs would only be 10% accurate) or hitting everyone's butt in the Manna house, sometimes my senses, missing that initial onrush, beg for more.

Sonia with some of her fellow health programmers

[ Side note: apologies for the list of activites. It's specifically meant for my family. It's funny how during our Skype conversations, they congratulate me more for learning how to cook (shh.. don't tell them about than for working on programs. ]

- Sonia"

Just a Typical Tuesday

Quarterly reports are due Thursday! Get your metrics to Chet! Doctor shadowing starts tomorrow! Wait, are we already talking about Spring Break groups? Shoot, I still have to write a blog post! And oh wait... and tomorrow's English/art lesson has to be planned... So much to do. So little time. Excuses, excuses - right? Things are kind of crazy around here this week... so here's a visual tour of our day. Just a typical Tuesday in the Manna world.

Rain three days in a row and a power outage at the house... looks like the rainy season has begun. The view from the balcony of the library. And yes, those are cows in the middle of the road.

La Wendi takes art class and her winter hat accessory very seriously

Selena gets creative during art class. Today was "Free Art Day" in class, which means the kids could make whatever they wanted.

Profes Chet and Dana get into the "Free Art Day" fun, too.

Profe Chet's final masterpiece...
I was expecting a unicorn, but was pleasantly surprised by the dragon motif.
Medium: old dried coffee beans. I think Picasso would be jealous.

The kids' final art projects... complete with colored cheesy poofs?

Haley (center) leads Women's Exercise class, with the help of Sarah and Jackie.
(Our job is to count to 8 in Spanish over and over... and over again.)

Twelve women (and one dog...) came to class tonight!

Haley, Jackie, Krysta and Sarah wrap up the day by being PHENOMENALLY (ha.) productive in the office... we love Quarterly Reports! :)

And that, my friends, is a small glimpse into a typical Tuesday in Manna Ecuador life. Thanks for checking in!

Hasta Jueves,