Monday, February 21, 2011

Meet me at the school wash

This week my community will be receiving a delivery of 10 computers, 10 desks, a printer, and a projector. All the materials necessary to create the first school computer lab in the whole municipality of La Concordia.

It's pretty exciting. In preparation, yesterday we cleaned out the school building that is going to house the computer lab, which was also quite exciting.

First of all, one of the things I love about my little town is that the kids love the help. I can't imagine a group of six neighborhood kids in the US voluntarily coming to help clean a school on a Sunday afternoon, but that was exactly what happened. Once we started cleaning things got crazy. The Nica cleaning method involves lots and lots and lots of water. No surface is spared a thorough dousing. We brought a hose from the neighbor's house and completely soaked the entire place, walls and all. My job was to yell "Cuidado!" every time someone got the hose near one of the newly installed electric outlets. The whole thing was more like a car wash than anything else I've ever experienced. By the end of it, the kids who came to help were all completely drenched and were making soap angels on the floor of the school building.

Monday, February 14, 2011

GDT Revisited

It looks like I’ve already failed at my New Year’s resolution to write more on my blog. At least I have a good excuse – the second year in Peace Corps really is busier. I have been attending events almost continuously since the start of this month, while simultaneously trying to get a computer lab up and running at my school.

One of the events was a youth leadership camp for which I was part of the organizing committee. The event was held at a beautiful facility in the mountains of Jinotega. We spend the weekend climbing high ropes courses, teaching leadership skills, and introducing Nicaraguan kids to American camp staples like ‘smores. The last night of youth camp we held an impromptu dance party using music from a volunteer’s ipod. The kids had been begging for a dance party, but once the music was on none of them got up to dance. The Peace Corps volunteers showed no such restraint. As soon as we heard the first notes of Shakira’s new hit “Loca” we were out on the floor dancing away. I think some of the kids might have danced had we volunteers not been so overly enthusiastic; they were either too scared or too embarrassed to join us.

Back when I was in training I wrote about Gringo Dance Theater; it seemed that we trainees became the entertainment at any and all Nica gatherings. People were either interested in our style of dancing or downright amazed that we could dance at all. This dance party brought back vividly those early days in Nicaragua. Only by this time I not only love dancing to these songs, I know all the words too. At one point I turned to a volunteer friend and said, “You know, it must be weird for these kids that this group of gringos knows all their songs and gets so pumped up to dance to them. It would be like if a group of Chinese people came to our high school and started going crazy singing and dancing to Lady Gaga and Britney Spears.”
“Yeah,” my friend agreed, It wouldn’t just be weird. It would be the weirdest thing that ever happened. No wonder they aren’t dancing. They’re in shock.” Such is the transfixing power of Gringo Dance Theater.