teen center


The past few weekends have been chock full of travel, field trips, and adventures; perhaps it's the rapidly approaching summer volunteer arrival date that has influenced us to cram in as many activities as possible. In the month of April we have collectively and separately gone on a retreat, traveled to Cuenca, climbed Illinizas Norte, been proposed to (okay fine, that was just Haley), got lost trying to exit the largest inhabited crater in South America and attended three community youth-focused day trips. Since Erik mentioned one of the teen outings in his guest blog last week, I'll stick to reporting on the kids' paseo and This past Saturday's hike up Ilalo with the teens.

The kids' paseo for April was to el parque la Carolina's dinosaur museum with about 15 kids in-tow. Since the museum itself is only open on weekends, when I went to investigate a few weeks ago I wasn't allowed to see the facilities. As it turns out, the museum is really more of a badly-staged Jurassic Park set; the presentation included a 25-minute tour moving from scene to scene, each featuring a different moving dinosaur or Mega-beast that scared the pants off of pretty much every kid we were with. Although it wasn't quite as educational as I had hoped, the kids enjoyed the theatrics and running around Quito's largest urban park. I think in the future I will search for venues outside of Quito, as transport sucks up most our time, and I really want to start embarking on nature hikes in the valley.

Our favorite twins enjoy a post-tour 'thrill' ride

Iori (in my sweatshirt post-puddle mishap) and Paola in the park

The whole group at the museum entrance

Sticking with the theme of the great outdoors, Mike organized a trip for this teens on Saturday to summit Ilalo, the hill/small mountain about thirty minutes from our house by bus. Mike, Sonia, Chet and I led Joseph, Carlos and Christian up the trail; by led, I mean they ran up most of it as Mike and Chet chased after them and Sonia and I stopped frequently to 'take in the scenery.' When we reached the top in record time, the boys scurried up a 30-foot tall cross and we all took in 360 degree views as far as the eye could see.

Sonia and I at the base of the cross (we were too scared to go further)

The climbing crew in front of a fountain post-hike

Stay tuned later this week for our quarterly update - a succinct summary of our programmatic happenings spanning January through mid-April - and Krysta wc Peterson's interview to be posted later this week! (if you didn't get that middle name reference, don't worry, you will after you see this interview)

until next time,

Teenage Kicks

As part of our goals for the teen center Shawn, Mike, and Erik have been holding monthly events outside of regular teen center hours. This month's event was a party, organized and mostly run by the teens themselves. The party was highly successful, but as we debriefed afterward and found that most of the attendees were male, ideas came up about trying to have afternoon or earlier events for those teens with early curfews.

Here's a short recap from Mike about the event!

"This past Saturday, we had our second teen center party. Much like the first, the teens planned and prepared all aspects of the party- invitations, DJ, music equipment, cover charge, and advertising. An addition to this party was a rifa, or raffle, in which we provided a ticket to every person who paid to enter the party. The hard work of the teens paid off, as we had more than 30 people come and pay, as well as a number of new people to the Teen Center. Special thanks go out to Christian, for getting the music equipment; Dario, for helping Erik with the rifa; and Pammy, for keeping everybody in line. "

The 'auditorium' all set up for the party (pictures courtesy of Christian)

Mike and Pammy pause for a photo

Christian and Grace jam out to the DJ

Other teen goings on include an after school homework help (apoyo escolar) for math and reading run by two of our most active teens, Christian and Pammy. As library attendance drooped this month, parents informed us that their kids need to focus on school and that we don't offer enough scholarly activities outside of English class. Simultaneously a couple of teens wanted to get more involved in the centro, and so far these study sessions have been going really well. Eventually, we'd like to try and fuse some of our teen trips and kid's paseos together to encourage interaction and give the kids some good role models outside of the library.

youthfully yours,

Split-Screen Perseverance

Kudos to this week's guest blogger, miss Shawn Fagan, who completed the task of writing us an entry during the week of all madness before spring break gets here! That's right folks, we have just finished the (last minute) preparations for our first group from Vanderbilt to arrive tomorrow. Even Bibi came over, eager to help us clean the kitchen, but really ended up just whipping us with rolled up towels for 45 minutes. As we enjoy a 'quiet' last night in the house, I hope you enjoy Shawn's entry, and look forward to Mike's interview for tomorrow!

"Yesterday I added a new objective to my lists of goals and objectives for this quarter. This objective is to be accomplished by the end of my stay, rather than March 31st, the official end of our third quarter. My new objective struck suddenly; like a beacon of light, it was so clear, so obvious, so logical…how had I not thought of it before? Allow me to explain how this wondrous occurrence played itself out on an otherwise insignificant Wednesday.

I was walking home from the bus stop, excited to test out the new DVD store that had opened up just a block from our house. I was seeking a scary, perhaps funny movie to show at this Friday’s “Noche de Cine” in our Teen Center. The movie I had in mind was “Zombieland,” which, for all of you zombie movie/book/legend lovers (a fan base that includes most of Manna’s 2008-2009 Program Directors), successfully combines gore with humor, romance with dead bodies, and features a fantastic cameo by Bill Murray. Upon entering the intriguing new DVD store, I was slightly dismayed to discover that the window display is pretty much the entire collection. Regardless, I took a look around. Lo and behold they did have “Zombieland,” but only in English with Spanish subtitles. We make it a practice during movie nights to watch movies that are dubbed in Spanish; the teens are typically less than thrilled about the prospect of having to read subtitles, and the Profes always benefit from listening to the cookie-cutter-accented Spanish that is used in film dubbing here.

I began to look around for a different scary/humorous movie. My eyes perused the shelves. In ninth grade, before the age of DVDs, when the neighborhood indie video store reined supreme, my friend and I went through a semi-pretentious phase where we would watch only Kevin Smith movies and then feign an understanding of all the jokes. So when when my gaze fell upon that classic "Mallrats" cover art, I knew it was more than just chance. I rushed home and popped in one of my favorite movies from those long-lost high school years. It was just as good, if not better than I remember, in part because I definitely get a whole lot more now. And then came the revelation that had always been there, just below the surface, waiting to be unveiled. I will, as of my official end of July objective, seek to recreate my golden collection of VHS movies, those that still hold a permanent place on my TV stand at home, in bootleg $1.50 Ecuadorian DVDs. A lofty goal, I know you're all thinking, but it's a noble cuase, and I must persevere.

Shawn and Selena enjoying their make-up

- Shawn"

Smells like Teen Spirit

Bright and early Saturday morning, before either of us usually gets up during the week, Krysta and I made our way into Quito to support one of our community's teens, Christian. His school, Colegio La Salle, is in a beautiful part of Quito, right across from the Basilica in the heart of the historical city. As we walked up to the school and into the main gates we could hear the crowd roaring and the principal trying to restore order to announce the school "teams." In Ecuador high school students choose concentrations, similar to college majors, and each of these concentrations made their own team equipped with uniforms, a mascot and cheerleaders. The teams ranged from Real Madrid to LIGA even to the New York Yankees (represent!).

As each team was announced, they paraded around the courtyard with homemade banners and lots of energy. After the parade, a couple of the seniors did a lap with a light torch, Olympics-style, to the tune of Eye of the Tiger. There was a homecoming queen-esque competition for the girls, all of whom were dressed in their best dresses and heels, looking older than me (although let's be honest, it isn't all that hard). All and all, it was great to spend some time with Christian outside of the teen center, witness so much school spirit, and be offered
chevichochos at 9a.m. about six different times by a guy wearing an "I spent a night in Paris, ask me about it" shirt.

View of Colegio La Salle from a tower in the Basilica

Other exciting weekend highlights include:
  • Spending some quality time with Seth who's been visiting Quito/Guayaquil for the past couple weeks = coaxing him into cooking for us and playing a couple rousing rounds of catchphrase in the dark during one of our blackouts.
  • Two epic scoreless soccer games from both the girls and guys soccer leagues.
  • Watching Sarah creep around the house/apartment/library/soccer fields with the video camera gathering footage for the Manna Reunion in Nicaragua next week (don't fret readers, you get to see the video too!)
Even though the power will be out tomorrow night, my dedicated central American correspondent Sarah will be at MPI Nica headquarters giving you some awesome information about our kitchen-building & cooking class project!


Teen Center Goals and Vision

(Today's guest blog was written by Mr. Mike Gabrys. Mike is famous - to me, at least - for making sure people don't fall down Pichincha when hiking, and for holding the in-house record for longest time sporting a mustache... out of the boys, of course. Enjoy!)

Mike playing a game of "piedritas" with Gisela

"I'm Mike, the fifth guest blogger. I hale from Northville, Michigan, which is a suburb of Detroit. After spending the last six years at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, I have developed an appetite for live country music that I'm finding difficult to satiate here. I like to run, ride my bike, eat toast, and beat Erik in chess.

This year, I'll be working with the library program with Jackie, and the Teen Center with Shawn. As Jackie has given you some insight into the direction the
library is headed, I'm going to focus on the Teen Center.

As you hopefully already know, this past weekend we had a back-to-school party for Teen Center. All the arrangements- music, speakers, snacks, decorations, and publicity- were handled by the teens themselves. This not only made our job easier (after all, I'm still struggling with the language) but also allowed the teens to take ownership of the party, which contributes to fulfilling the goals of the Teen Center. For awhile Shawn and I doubted if the teens would pull through, but in the end, everything worked out.

The teen center serves as a place where older youth in our communities to socialize, free of the influences of alcohol.  The Teen Center also seeks to develop teens as leaders, offer supplemental educational opportunities, and integrate neighborhood cliques. A major component of this is the Teen Board. The board is in charge of planning events and outings, like the party last weekend; selecting topics for panel discussions we will have later in the year; and opening the Teen Center when a profe isn't there. The members are selected by peers to represent the different groups that come to the center.

This year we hope to build on the success of last year and the work of Seth and previous PDs by making the space more engaging for teens.  This includes having more things to do, more ways to interact with one another, and offering this space as a safe place to talk about issues facing teenagers.  This will take some time, but as we've seen already, the teens can pull together and accomplish the task if they've set their minds to it.

Along with the library, we are writing a grant proposal for furniture, magazine subscriptions, and stimulative games. Additional items we would appreciate are on our
Amazon.com Wishlist; we continually add to it, so check back often.

The past few weeks have afforded everybody in the house an opportunity to meet and get to know the teens. They are a great group, and I look forward to updating their progress throughout the year.