the library gets a makeover

A number of new library initiatives have been planned and executed by our summer volunteers. Although everyone spends multiple days each week playing with the kids and running our space, a group of volunteers dedicated to enhancing the day-to-day goings on in the library has been working very hard through the past month.

1. The mural started by our Tulane spring break group was finally finished; volunteers and PDs whipped out their paint brushes to fill in each and every bubble.

Finished Mural!

2. We spruced up the adult corner by painting the pillar that used to exude awkward beige-ness in between our subject sections. Now, thanks to Jenni and the help of Claire, it brightens up and invites readers over!

Jenni and Claire work on painting a beautiful outdoor scene

3. After the incident where all of the kids decided that gluing their coloring pages to the wall was a good idea, we decided to scrap off all of the paint and redo it. We had some left over chalkboard paint from our A-frame and decided to paint a chalkboard in the game corner for the kids to play in. They certainly wasted no time showing off their drawing skills from art class...

Jen, Ja, Claire, and Stef pose in front of the completed chalkboard

Kenny, Kerly, and Isias test out the fresh new board

4. After ordering and leveling all of our children and teen books over spring break, we researched and planned a reading club that began a couple of weeks ago. Krysta dug back into the depths of her childhood to remember a fun 'build and ice cream' based reading competition. Each kid takes home a book along with three questions to answer about it to ensure that they've read it; upon return, they receive one piece of an ice cream sundae. Once they've collected 8 pieces (aka read 8 books) they receive an ice cream of their choice from one of the local tiendas. So far, we have about 15 participants, and 4 kids who've received one ice cream and are working on their second set of 8 (more challenging) books!

"Do you like ice cream? Join our reading club!"

Wendy poses by her nearly completed sundae; she's now on her second!

4. Summer volunteers Jen, Claire and Mae offer 3 half-hour long literacy classes on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays in the library. The class is split into two groups; one that is working on learning to read by practicing how to pronounce vowels, consonants, and how to construct words. The other, older group, works on increasing their reading levels and their ability to read faster.

Mae plays bingo with Selena and Issac

Tomorrow morning we're off to Quilotoa for our first session two weekend trip. We'll kick off next week introducing you to the new 8 quirky, energetic, and extremely hard working girls in our house!


We like to move it...

... it being 10 book shelves, 8 tables, a dozen chairs, and close to 2,000 library books.

After observing that many parents are intimidated by the hoards of small children running around for coloring pages and markers as they walk in the door, we decided that some changes needed to be made to the library layout. We did this with two of our goals in mind: increasing readership and catering to adults. Although this is just the first step of many to work towards these goals - we plan to organize a reading competition & book clubs for the spring - we're proud of the new layout and increased ability to control game playing and encourage reading.

Check it out for yourself!

photos courtesy of Miss Krysta Peterson

book shelves serve as a barrier between rowdy games and quieter reading

the new rincon de leer, complete with a rincon of bean bags and circled shelves

This 4-day weekend we're all headed to different parts of the country for none other than carnaval, the South American equivalent of Mardi Gras. Don't worry, we're fully equipped to defend ourselves with water balloons and shaving cream!


Can Someone Mail Me a Gavel?

Transitions by nature require lots of planning, which leads to lots and lots of meetings. There are the programatic meetings and then there are the operational meetings, my personal favorite, where pretty much no topic is off limits. We discuss anything from whether putting a compost pile on the roof will collapse into someone's bed to lectures about how to use the bus coin jar properly (and tossing imaginary gold stars to those who utilize the pennies). If I had to guess, I'd say about 75% of the time that we're all together in the house is spent either in meetings, or discussing random operational topics. Therefore, I felt it was especially important to paint you a picture of what these meetings look like and why they are oh so important (and entertaining).

During the first of these meetings, we doled out operational roles and I landed the job of secretary. This means that I take minutes for each of our meetings which may seem boring to you, but in fact it's really great.  I can write down anything inappropriate or embarrassing that happens within the perimeters of the meeting and document it for everyone to see.  I also get to make side comments, like how outrageous it is that Bibi has never seen FernGully (don't worry, we're showing it during niño's camp).  I also get to send all of the meeting minutes to the MPI board members;  I can only imagine them on the edge of their seats while reading that we decided to switch which day the kitchen floor gets mopped.  

Because of the hectic schedule of the past couple of weeks, we've been having our meetings during family dinners. This means I end up sitting at one end of the table, fork in one hand, keyboard in the other, hunched over trying to shield my computer from flying rice and condiments while furiously typing.  Amongst discussions of whether we should buy an iron for the house and what exactly falls under the job description of "dishwasher," we do, in fact, discuss serious matters. One of the more serious topics at our latest meeting has been how the kids in the community are handling our infiltration of the library. We've been trying to spend as much time there as possible, getting to know the kids and how everything works. But like all smart kids, they realize that since we're new, they might be able to bend the rules around us whether it be getting extra art supplies or pre-12 year olds trying to sneak into the teen center.  It's challenging because while we want to befriend all of the kids, we also wait to maintain stability and a level of authority.  

As we venture into our two-week long niño's camp next week, we have the perfect opportunity to create a foundation of both friendship and respect that will be built upon for the rest of the year.  And, in between, we'll have our team meetings to continue to solve problems, plan events, and a few laughs when one PD darts another from across the table and his or her head slams onto a nearby plate until saved, hypothetically speaking, of course.

Playing games in the library

Mike guitar-ing and supervising video games

Hurray for ping pong! (and Manna!) 

If you want to see more pictures, check out our new Picasa photo album by following the link on the right labelled "Snapshots of Life in the Valley!"