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Thursday, May 30, 2013

The End of our First Week of Service

Today we finished our first week of summer camp and GLOW. I must say that it was a successful week. We’re all exhausted. I just woke up from a nap and everyone else is still asleep. Those kids just took it all out of us.

We have about 60 kids in our summer camp. We meet in a little church in one of the slums. We bought every child a notebook and pencil to work with. We finally got in the groove today schedule-wise: first we do something active to tire the kids out. Today we played Gangnum Style and made snakes/trains. I led one of the trains for a while. The kids are super fun and so energetic. I love that they come to summer camp even though they’re on break. After we tire them out we get them working on the English alphabet, thinking of words and pictures for each letter. They are far more familiar with the alphabet than we thought, but it’s a good review for them. We usually split them into groups by age so we can move at a more appropriate pace. Some of the children have a fantastic grasp on English, some not so much. They speak Telegu, so we have a couple of translators there to help us communicate. One woman from SAPID, our partner organization that is helping us to organize the camp, is a fantastic resource – her name is Urmi, and she is so kind and funny. We have kind of adopted her as our group mom. She takes good care of us. A couple of members from the local LDS church join us as translators too – a teenage boy called Ammon and a young adult called Jon. They’re fun and their knowledge of both English and Telegu is so helpful. I really wish I could speak Telegu. It would be so useful right now.

Right after summer camp we head over to a neighboring community for GLOW. We have 17-ish girls in our group. Yesterday we introduced the idea of SMART goals to them (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based). Today we finished up SMART goals and taught them basic personal hygiene like face-washing and teeth-brushing (this is when it comes in handy to have a dentist brother who taught me the proper way to brush teeth). The most effective part of the lesson was the part about washing hands. Our volunteer Meera illustrated the concepts of germs with glitter – she put glitter on her hands, then shook some of the girls hands and the glitter spread. I love this example for talking about germs. The girls seemed to get what it meant, and hopefully now they will be better about washing their hands.

Next week we tackle the taboo topic of menstruation. The mothers don’t teach their daughters about what menstruation is, so the girls are left thinking something is wrong with them – they’re not allowed to, in some situations, go to school or be in the kitchen during their periods. They don’t have access to pads either, so we’re going to research a way to make homemade pads and other ways of handling it. Mostly we just want them to know it’s a normal part of life and it’s healthy to have a period.

My time here is run basically like a full-time job – we work from 10am-6pm and then after we are free to do other things. We went to an exhibition near our house on Wednesday night. An exhibition is basically a carnival. They have big stands full of bangles and clothes and random toys. They have carnival games and even a haunted house, which we all got up the nerve to go through. It ended up being not scary at all until the end. It was a little gory and creepy though. Eliza had her face hidden in my backpack the entire time.

I am the only blonde person I have seen since I’ve been here. People stare at us everywhere we go. Not only are we white but we are usually loud – Americans are just loud. It’s a fact. People don’t have any qualms about staring, so we stare back. Usually we wave and say hello and they’ll say hi back. It’s weird to be stared at everywhere I go. It makes me feel a bit like a celebrity, but mostly just really self-conscious.

The food finally got to me yesterday and I vomited. I threw up out the door of the bus on the way back from the slums. The driver was really nice and kept asking if I was okay. Annie held the hair out of my face while we rode home – she’s so sweet. I’m here with the nicest people in the world. I assumed I’d throw up at some point, but I was of course hoping it wouldn’t happen. I’m fine today. I’m still a little queasy but much better. I still feel like I never want to eat food ever again. I’m hoping that will pass by tomorrow. I’ve also had bouts of homesickness as per usual Jenny behavior. All in all, all is well. I’m very happy to be here and I have learned a ton about myself and life. What an amazing experience. This is a very grateful Jenny.

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