Another fabulous summer at Campamento Las Margaritas!
Our gratitude to Yolanda (Luli), Kelli, and Carmen for taking the leadership to run the camp this summer and to Gri, Felipe, and Gloria for their amazing help! We were incredibly pleased with the student leadership formed by Yeni, Thania, Desireth and Genesis! They were once campers who have transitioned into teachers!
This year we focused on the overarching theme of health. The students learned about the human body, emphasizing on the various organs. They learned about their function and how to take care of them. The students also engaged in deep discussions about organ donation (social and moral implications). We brought in two doctoras from the community to talk to the students about career choice, especially the importance of women in science.
Looking forward to next year!
Tanya and Josh Paris
I'm tired. This really is a lot of work. Yet, as the camp ends every year I feel a pit in my stomach. A sadness that it's over. Always happens. This year it happened at the closing ceremony when two of the younger campers gave speeches about the meaning of the camp for them. About how they didn't know what to expect on the first day and then they made new friends and had so much fun. They even talked about the history of el campamento (I'm pretty sure they had some coaching for that part). I mean sometimes I feel like we do so little. We bring in some art and science supplies and some sports equipment and spend a few hours with the kids for 10 days and then we leave. What have we really accomplished? Even the park we built, I'm not sure how long it will last.
And yet somehow, some way, this camp is important to many of the campers. I think it might be this: The fact that a group of Americans come down to spend two weeks with them, to make spaces for them to play, adds to their self worth I think. In their minds they must be important if we take time out of our lives to be with them. Or something like that.
That, and the playground came out amazing. Here's some pictures. And then we are off to the capital with all the teen leaders for an afternoon of museums (our idea), playing in the Fortaleza (their idea), some souvenir shopping and then dinner. See you stateside.
Playing in the
Camila leading solar spin art
You can't really see how covered in paint are they
Today was a cool day. It needs a bit of background information to explain. Fifteen years ago a high school student named Jake Kheel, came to the DR as part of an exchange program with Northfield Mount Herman. Jake stayed with the Familia Montás during his visit and has stayed in touch with the family since then. Jake went back to the states to go to college and graduate school and then returned to the DR to live. He started a Foundation to support the ecology of the country and is involved in multiple environmental projects here. One of which is a documentary called "Death by a Thousand Cuts" he made about the charcoal industry and the deforestation of both the DR and Haiti. Tanya, Kelli, and I saw the film at a festival in Lowell and Samuel was able to get the movie for the camp. So we took the campers into San Cristobal to see the movie and then Jake stopped by for a question and answer session with the campers. The campers were entranced with the movie and asked great questions of Jake. I told you it was a cool day right?
On a side note, The movie was supposed to be shown at 9:30 and it didn't start until 10:15 because the school where we got the movie shown wanted to bring some of its students as well and they didn't get out of class until 10:00. The old gringo me would've thought, "how hard would it have been to tell us that in advance so we aren't waiting for an hour." But, as I've evolved of late, that thought didn't cross my mind at all.
Today was a day that tested my newfound Dominicatude to the limit as there was so much going on at camp and so many problems to solve at the same time. First and foremost, the Honorable Guadalupe Valdez, who worked with the students at Congress yesterday was coming to the camp to talk about a project she's working on called Zero Hunger which aims to eliminate hunger in the DR by the year 2030. She was supposed to come at 10:30 but we weren't sure how long her program was going to be. So, we decided to do one round of talleres and then see what happens.
In the meantime there was a problem with the science taller. Camila and Charlie didn't have time to plan last night because of the going away party for Richard and they didn't know what the students had done with us in science since they had missed the previous day due to the Congress visit. They decided to work with the electricity projects we had brought with us but needed time to figure it all out. Hmmm. What to do? No worries. We just combined four groups into the art talleres.
Then, the honorable Guadalupe Valdez arrived on time!!! And told us that she had a program that would last an hour and a half and wanted a room where all the campers could fit with a projector because she had a short movie to show. Hmmm. Patience. Flexibility. Well, there isn't a room at the school that fits 115 students. But, lo and behold, the school had a computer lab with a projector and air conditioning. All these years, and I never knew that. Did I mention that the room had air conditioning?
So, we shuffled some things around and had Guadalupe work with two groups at a time while the other groups rotated through their talleres. It actually all more or less worked out. By the way, as all this was going on we needed to get permission slips written, copied, and distributed for the movie tomorrow and then get all the students' names checked for spelling for the certificates that we will be giving them on Friday.
I don't know. I don't think I described the chaos of the day well enough. But We, and I in particular remained calm and flexible the entire time as plans changed on the fly. So, there's that.
Then, on the way home, we find out that Kennel, Tanya's nephew is having a wedding celebration tonight. So, I better go get,showered up as the party starts in 15 minutes.
The Honorable Guadalupe Valdez with the campers
Evan, pitching in to help the science taller with a solar powered spin art project
Today the American teen leaders went on a field trip to the capital with some of the Dominican teen leaders and the oldest class of campers to see the Dominican Congress. Guadalupe Valdez, a former member of the Dominican congress, talked to them about what the Dominican congress does and how it is structured. This was a great opportunity for the American teen leaders to learn more about the Dominican government and how it is different from the American government. It was also a great opportunity for the campers to learn more about how their government works. La Señora Valdez has given a tremendous amount of support to the camp these past two years. Apparently, she appreciates what we are doing here because she told the campers that they should have a campamento las margaritas in every district in the country. Wow!
Eric sits next to Guadalupe in the seat the president of the Dominican Republic sits in.
Meanwhile, back at camp, the teen leaders worked on some finishing touches at the playground.