A Week in the Life…
Working with youth means that our workweek starts on Thursday, runs through the weekend, and leaves us with Tuesday and/or Wednesday as our “weekend” to run errands, catch up on household chores, and rest (what’s that?). Here’s what a typical week looks like for us right now:
In the morning we prepare our lesson plans and catch up on work. Mari teaches a craft class to a women’s group in San Pedro in the afternoons (not to be confused with San Pablo where Mujeres Cambia is located). The San Pedro women’s group is just getting started but with hard work and a little bit of luck it could grow to be another group like Mujeres Cambia. Time will tell! Right now we are working on paper crafts (other than jewelry) that we are hoping to sell in Salinas.
Paul either joins the women’s group meeting and/or has meetings with Neo Juventud staff and students about specific projects like painting and installing trash cans on the beach and training staff on accounting and marketing. Right now he is working with Fundación Neo Juventud’s Treasurer on the group’s books as well as training a new Palmar Pizza manager.
We usually have Mujeres Cambia meetings in the afternoon, which means preparing for them in the morning. Some days prep means printing out recent sales lists to give to the Treasurer while other times it means printing labels, folding brochures, editing organizational documents, and other oh-so-fun behind-the-scenes stuff.
At the meetings we take photos of new items for inventory, make labels, talk about upcoming events, review any social fund loans that are due, vote on how to spend group fund money, and share new designs. Last Friday we had a special activity: making Mujeres Cambia t-shirts! The women have been very excited to learn how to silkscreen and to create their very own MC uniforms. Uniforms are very big in Ecuador and are not just for students. Many professions and associations also have uniforms. Now we do, too!
Occasionally, as was the case last Friday, we are invited to events at night. Last Friday we celebrated the birthday of one of the youth group members with dinner, cake, and live music at the Center for Art & Design.
Saturday is our longest day because not only do we teach a class of kids in the morning, we have Open Studio Time after lunch and then a class of teenagers in the afternoon. To top that off, often we are invited to events on Saturday nights but sometimes we’re just too tired.
The lessons last Saturday included making line designs with the younger kids (I can still remember when I learned how to make line designs – my 5th grade math class!) and silkscreening and print-making with the older kids. We also prepared for a project to paint and install 10 trash cans on the beach.
Mornings are usually pretty lazy and laid back (thank goodness!) but we also have Open Studio Time at the Art Center after lunch and we teach a photography class in the afternoons. Our photo project in the afternoon consisted in taking photo montage portraits of class members.
Nights we usually have a Skype date with someone or we just cook dinner and relax. Once in a while we have a special event to attend with our host family like a baptism or a wedding. This past Sunday we exercised and then spent the rest of the morning preparing packages of Mujeres Cambia jewelry to send across Ecuador and to the US in time for Christmas. Once in a while Paul also has Spanish classes on Sundays with a friend of ours.
We have our weekly meeting with the President of Fundación Neo Juventud in the morning and the Mujeres Cambia meetings in the afternoons. Lately, we’ve been invited by the folks at a hotel in Salinas to have a table selling jewelry on some Mondays or Tuesdays. It has been a great opportunity for the women to practice selling to gringos – many of whom don’t speak any Spanish.
Our weekend starts! We sleep in a bit (if Max doesn’t wake us up barking) and then get stuff done like food shopping, laundry, cleaning, going to the Post Office, planning for classes and events, visiting the Vet with Max, and relaxing. Last Tuesday we took Max to be neutered, which all of our Ecuadorian friends think is rather odd. In addition, we went food shopping, saw a movie, and Mari got her haircut.
Depending on the week, we either have another day like Tuesday or we could end up with meetings for the youth foundation, impromptu Mujeres Cambia activities, or Spanish classes for Paul. Last Wednesday we had some Mujeres Cambia orders to fill so some of the women came to our town to drop off the goods before Paul had a meeting at Neo.