Sunday, February 04, 2007

first week of OJOS nuevos at the aldea

Our first week of OJOS nuevos at the aldea was indeed, as the Chileans would say, "top" Not without its challenges, I would still agree that one, we are off to a promising start, and two, I have a lot of work to do. We have so many more opportunities with this taller, or workshop, that my lesson plans from the last taller are now out of date. Thanks to donations to VE I will be able to purchase a new battery and memory card this weekend, improving two of our cameras and enabling us to leave the hogar as a class to take pictures around the city for the first time. I plan on taking the girls to Santa Lucia, a hill that rises up in the center of Santiago from which one can view the expansive city.

We met twice this past week, the first time on Monday with half the class spent looking at international photography in a slideshow and learning some about the history of photography, and the second half wandering around the hogar taking pictures. At the end of the day we downloaded everyone's first photos and shared them with each other. They liked going off by themselves and showed a lot of initiative in experimenting with their cameras even on the first day. We have some very bold and inventive young women in this group.

Wednesday morning we took the micro down to the Puente Alto (the hogar's neighborhood) library where we will be able to use their computer lab. Lindy helped the staff install Photoshop on six of the computers in the children's library, and we will be able to go as often as once a week to use the internet to explore photography sites and magazines and to use learn how to edit images in Photoshop. While the Aldea will be receiving a computer lab within the next month due to VE's @ccess the future computer program, it is still important to show the girls where the resources are around them and how to use them to their benefit. Each girl will have her own email account as well, and through our email group we can share photos and websites with each other.

As an introductory class, I felt very positive about our first trip to the library. But the gap in computer knowledge among the girls coupled with my lack of spanish vocabulary when talking about Photoshop tricks and techniques showed me that I have a lot more preparation to do before the next time we go to the lab. Another challenge in front of me is that I'm also a new tia for the girls, and still getting to know them as individuals. Which is why one of my favorite parts of the week was after class on Wednesday when I stayed to eat lunch and hang out with the girls. While the Aldea has four houses in which the young women live, during the summer all of the girls who have no alternative place to visit are moved into one of the houses. Lunch had been prepared by a tia and a young woman who likes to cook-- she explained to me the proper way to cook Chilean corn as it is very different from the Midwest corn on the cob to which I am accustomed: this corn, much tougher and on a larger cob than Illinois corn, requires 15 minutes in boiling water, which would explain why the last time I tried to cook it you couldn't even bite into it, it was so undercooked. We ate a corn and potato stew with a side salad of lettuce and tomato with lemon juice, oil, and salt.

For dessert, those who wanted to could have flan, which I happen to love. I sat at a table with three young women, two of which are in the photo class, and learned that they don't like reggaeton that much because the lyrics often demean women, but they do like songs to which you can hold someone close and slowly dance. One has many madrinas and doesn't like flan; the other has no madrinas and had two helpings of flan. Both are incredibly excited to leave the hogar on Monday with our class. I share their excitement, as I have actually not yet climbed the Cerro Santa Lucia, but I am always a little nervous taking our kids out on excursions-- Yet another reason why it's important to get to know the girls and let them get to know me. I will have Ben, another volunteer, with me, but it is still sure to be an adventure.

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