Apologies for the long hiatus in blogging, as it has been almost 2 months since our last post. However, we’ve got lots of exciting things to catch everyone up on!
In celebration of the Lunar Festival, which fell on September 19 this year, we put together a dumpling-making party for the students of Zone Z232 and Los Álamos. Not knowing what to expect, there was quite a buzz among the students leading up to the event. “What are we making?” “What will it taste like?” “What are they made out of?” “What do they look like?” Without the necessary vocabulary in Spanish, such as dumpling and pot-sticker, it was even harder to convey the idea. We settled on calling them “empanadas chinas”.
The day of the event arrived and a group of 25 or so children piled into our Zone D classroom. After a brief introduction of the holiday, and a tutorial of how to form the dumplings, it was time for the students to start making the dumplings. Each child received seven dumpling peels to stuff and form. Excitement yet apprehension filled the room.
Forming dumplings, for those who are not familiar with the process, can be quite a challenge. This became quickly apparent to our students. Some students timidly accepted the challenge, asking after each step, “Miss, like this??” They were the perfectionists. Others dove right in, shoveling in the filling and folding over the peel. Those were the haphazard, yet brave, pioneers. We volunteers couldn’t help but adore the looks of deep concentration and determination on every child’s face—too cute!
Afterward, we acted out the story of the Moon Lady. A tragic love story, this legend rarely disappoints. With magnificent acting and narrating on the volunteers’ parts, and special compliments to our English Program Manager, Meg, as a stellar Moon Lady, the children were captivated and tickled pink.
We followed this with a feast of the dumplings. Unfortunately, the flavor was too foreign for their liking, and most plates were not cleared. But we followed up with almond cookies for dessert, and a taste of the traditional moon-cake, and both were thoroughly enjoyed. Thumbs-up seven-up rounded out the event, and the children hopped into the combi shouting “Xie xie! Xie xie!,” or “Thank you! Thank you!” in Chinese.
The event was tremendously fun for both the volunteers and students alike. Cultural exchange, an often overlooked, but wonderful component of LLI´s presence in Huaycán, unfolded as the students learned about this Chinese holiday.
On Sunday, October 20, LLI held its second annual soccer tournament. Despite her concerns of team dynamic and even distribution of skill level across all teams, event planner, Veronica, managed to put together a satisfying roster that lent for exciting and close competition. Big and small, girl and boy, young and old—all played together.
The event began with a few laps around the reserved “canchita con losa,” or paved court, followed by stretching. We then split them into four teams and assigned coaches. Los Álamos with Coach José called themselves Barcelona, Zone D with Coach Luis called themselves the Furigans, a team composed of Zone S and Zone D students called themselves Super Once and was led by Coach Renzo, and Zone Z232 with Coach Meg called themselves The Winners. Doing it round robin, we played six short games total.
The referee sounded his whistle, and the kids were off! Coach Meg was a bit concerned about her team, as The Winners were of smaller stature. The Furigans, on the other hand, had a few American football player body-types. However, halfway through, Barcelona of Los Álamos appeared to be the favored team. They played strong and displayed great technique.
We came to the last game, each team with one win. It was down to the wire and Barcelona versus The Winners were to finish out the tournament. Who was going to win?? Barcelona was sure they had it in the bag. But, in a 2-0 defeat, underdog The Winners came out on top! Z232 was ecstatic! They´re name was quite apt, and Coach Meg had nothing to worry about.
Each player on the winning team got a little toy pumpkin stuffed with candy as their prize. The rest of the kiddos got goodie bags filled with crackers, cookies, candy, stickers, and small toys. We’ll see if Z232 can hold on to their reigning title next year at LLI’s third annual soccer tournament!
Women’s Food Workshop
After some of the women in our program had expressed interest in learning different food preparation techniques, our Women’s Program Managers, Adrianna and Sam, met with Food Engineering professor Eduardo Meza at the Universidad Union Peruana, a university nearby, to coordinate some gastronomy workshops. They decided to have some of the students in their final year come out to Huaycán to deliver workshops on how to create different types of jam as a part of their social work project. The goal of the workshop was to teach the women both a way to prolong fruit-life as well as a way to potentially create an additional product for them to sell.
A few students were sent to Zone S, Zone Z, and Zone D. After an introduction to maintaining sanitary food-prep, we dove right in. The women were involved in cleaning and prepping the fruit, and then were engaged in question and answers with the students while the fruit boiled down. Some of the women expressed interest in learning how to create yogurt with some of the students in a future workshop, later this year or early next year.
Once the sugar and potato starch were added, the jam was then removed from the burners to cool down. While the jam was served into different containers, the students used the white boards to break down the cost of the whole process (the cost of the fruit, sugar, potato starch, and the gas we used while cooking the fruit), and then how much it would cost to create each container. They took it one step further to show the women that if they were to sell each container for 2 soles, they could make 1.2 sol profit each container. The women were really engaged in this part of the workshop, and you could see the wheels turning as they contemplated this as a potential new business for them…
While attendance was not quite what we had hoped in Zone Z, the reactions of the women were very positive, and we had a great turnout in Zone D. Since we don’t normally have workshops in Zone D, it was a great way to kick off a program here, as we had 20 women show up. Overall, the students from Union Peruana seemed very pleased with the work they had done, and the women seemed to enjoy this new type of workshop.
Staff Appreciation Dinner
Dina, our cook, is to blame for the weight gain many of us go through. She makes the best caldo de gallina and tallarin rojo one can find in Peru. I’m sure her cooking is one of the top things volunteers miss after leaving Peru.
Queta, our housekeeper, is our Peruvian mother and shaman. She knows an herbal concoction for every illness we’re suffered, she knows the art of “pasar el huevo,” or “passing the egg,” to expel internal demons, and she ceaselessly looks out for our well-being and safety.
Tito, the night guard, is our cool Peruvian uncle who looks after our safety, but also has bounteous knowledge of fruit, Cumbia music, and house repair, and on multiple occasions has stepped up as our handyman.
Oscar, our other night guard, is our Peruvian father who always shares sage advice and gives us mini Spanish lessons every conversation enjoyed with him.
Life in Huaycán would not be the same without them, and we have so much to be grateful toward them. We took last Friday night as an opportunity to express our gratitude.
House Manager Kendra put together a delicious chili over spaghetti dish, while volunteers Sam and Shanae made a refreshing spinach salad. Natasha and Sara made a scrumptious mango and peach crumble, and Veronica made Pisco jello shots. We shared this feast over a slideshow of pictures of them. The slideshow, of course, brought back fond memories and stories. We then played two get-to-know-you games that Meg put together. One involved matching baby pictures to current volunteers, the other was matching random facts to current volunteers. Everyone got a kick out of both. We ended the dinner with a competitive, but fun game of charades. Dina had to act out a chimpanzee, Tito a penguin, and Queta a walrus dancing Huayno. Unfortunately, due to work, Oscar was unable to attend. We gifted them each a bunting decorated with thank you notes written by each volunteer and a photo of our group.
It was a night of fun and bonding!
games of 10 minutes each, we had determined our champions. Eduardo of Zone Z232 took home the prize for the harder level. This was his third time reigning as champion this year! For the easier level, there was a tie. Joseph-David of S and Xiomara of D both won with 5 games won. Congratulations to our chess champions and great job to all the participants!
As you can see, we’re staying busy with lots of exciting things! Thus is the life of an LLI volunteer!