Saturday, August 30, 2008

So long . . . Farewell

Well, sad as this is, it is time for us to turn over the blog to the next set of volunteers. I hope this blog has helped illustrate how much we love the Hogar and the kids! It is amazing how much we have missed them in the few weeks since we have been home. We are constantly commenting on things that remind us of certain kids and laughing at memories. Here are a few cute pictures of our last day that I never posted:

Sharing one last hug with Xiomara

Writing in our group gratitude journal on the last night

Goofing off with Antonia, Carlos, and Ivan. How sad is this . . . This is one of the only pictures of the whole summer we have of Sam and I together.

The girls will be taking off on September 15th for three months. We will be turning over the blog to them, so keep checking it out if you miss hearing about the kids.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Our last Friday at the Hogar, we got to go on the awesomest field trip with the kids to the fair. It is part of the big national week of holidays in El Salvador, and it was a BLAST! We got there early before it had officially open, so they let the kids ride some of the rides for free and we had the place to ourselves. Everyone is extremely accommodating when you are with a big group of disabled kids. Each person was assigned two kids to look after and Sam and I hit the jackpot. I got assigned Xiomara and Chusie, and Sam got Memo and Roberto. Funnest. Talk about a fun group to go to a carnival with! Here are a few pics of Sam with his "charges."I got to go on the bumper cars with Roberto which was a total blast. He kept pushing the reverse pedal out of nowhere and we were constantly getting stuck. We also had fun trying to chase down Memo and Sam in their car. I also got to be seat mates with little Xiomara on the mini roller coaster. She was screaming the entire time, even when it was not going fast at all. She wasn’t scared . . . she was just thoroughly enjoying herself. I made one big mistake however. I sat on the outside, so every time we went around the one fast corner, I got absolutely smashed into the side. Here is a little footage of her screaming . . .

Nothing was cuter than when we went into the Haunted House though. It was all these dark, super skinny corridors where people would sometimes reach out and grab you. Xiomara was freaked! She had her really adorable concerned face on and was clinging to me for dear life. The problem was that the skinny corridors couldn’t possibly fit both of us standing side by side and she refused to let go. Needless to say, there were a lot of traffic jams. The traffic only got worse at one part where the floor moved. Hello, most of the kids we were with can barely walk on solid, sturdy ground! It was hilarious. Memo refused to step on it for like the five whole minutes until Hermana Umbelina scolded him. (He also told everyone outside that he was never scared inside . . . ha!) Roberto kept swaying into the wall. When we finally made it out, there were some understandably aggravated people behind us who had been stuck in there the whole time with us.

One of the funniest parts of the day, though, was when Memo caught sight of the arcade and decided he wanted to play a game. He broke off and ran ahead to the man in charged who happened to be sitting on a stool. Memo put his hands on the guys knees, leaned in really close, and started “asking” how much it cost with a very angry face. It was hilarious! The guy had no idea what to make of the chubby little boy with Down Syndrome who was grunting right in his face for no apparent reason.
They also bought all of the kids this disgusting corn on the cob smothered in mayo, ketchup, mustard, barbeque sauce, and cheese that is a Salvadoran delicacy. NASTY!

Science Experiment Night

During our last week, we had an evening activity that was right up my alley. We did an evening of fun science experiments with the kids and it was a blast! Carlos especially liked it because he loves science. We did this cool one where a hard boiled egg gets sucked intact into a glass bottle using rubbing alcohol and a match. We also did baking soda and vinegar rockets, dropped two objects of the same size but different weights to see that they both touched at the same time, tried to implode a can (which failed miserably), and . . . the diet coke and mentos eruption. It was awesome! Everything we could have wanted. The kids loved it. We used two different 2-liters of Diet Coke and the show was impressive. It shot probably fifteen feet in the air. I am definitely going to research the ins and outs of how that works and then teach it to my kids when I am teacher.

This move doesn't exactly show the science experiments, but I thought Martiza was adorable at the end.

Around the world week

Our last week at the Hogar was an awesome week in our class because the kids that usually leave the Hogar in the afternoon to attend the community school were on vacation and got to come to our class instead. It made it so much easier to have kids there that were really interested in learning facts about the places as well as just doing fun activities. Our theme was “Around the World” and we visited a different country each day. We did similar things each day and then usually a unique activity or two at the end to wrap up. Each student had his own blank map of the world and we started each class by finding wherethe day's country was on the map and coloring it in. Then they each colored a blank flag of that country with the correct colors. We also learned how to say hello in the language they speak there, listened to ethnic music and talked about how it is different, and, the hightlight of each class, talked about the different types of food that are common or popular there and tried some.
Geovany loved coloring his map.

Visit to the USA

We started off the week by visiting the United States. We obviously had the best music for that day because we had such a variety.

We also had a picnic on the floor of the classroom with hot dogs and French fries. The kids LOVED the "papitas" or French Fries.

Our American activities were to make Indian headdresses and then play baseball. Chusita never quite got the hang of batting, but Martiza was a pretty good pitcher!

Visit to France

Another day during "Around the world" week, we visited France. The first thing we did was, of course, to give them all ridiculous French mustaches, including the girls.

I couldn't choose which picture was cuter, so sorry about the two photos of Sam. The first one if Roberto and the second is Ivan.
One fun part was when we showed them a clip from Spiderman 3 where a waiter speaks Spanish with a ridiculous French accent. They thought that was hilarious. Our French meal was French bread, cheese, and “wine,” aka. grape juice.

One of our culminating activities was building an Eiffel Tower out of popsicle sticks (which we ended up turning over to Sam, Carlos, and Ivan who cared the most about it).
For those kids who didn't care too much about builidng, we did watercoloring like the French Impressionists. I love Carmencita's face with her silly moustache in this picture.

Visit to China

I think my favorite day of "Around the World" week was the day we visited China. Sam and I put on silly Chinese costumes and welcomed them to China. We taught them how to say hello in Chinese and it was hilarious! Xiomara sounded like a cat saying “Ni Hao” all class because it was definitely “meow.” Cutest. We also listened to a song from the Kung Fu Panda soundtrack to talk about Chinese music. The highlight of the class though was when we had a Chinese brunch. We served the kids juice in these tiny tea cups and made them try to eat rice with chopsticks.

Martiza never could get the hang of it, but she thought is was a blast.

We were shocked to see that Geovany is absolutely amazing at using chopsticks. How the heck, I have no idea, since he doesn’t even hold them right. Ha! We were all super surprised. He was the best of the class. and then ate fortune cookies. The fortune cookies were hilarious because they were all in English so Emperatriz, Sam, and I just made up stupid things in Spanish. I told one of the students that she would be very successful in business. Ha! We ended up by making fans and rice picker hats.

I love how Carlos is 15 and not mentally disabled, but still gets totally into dressing up.

One last glamor shot

I thought this picture was way too adorable not to put up. This is Transito and she kind of came out of the woodwork during the second half of the summer. We rarely saw her the first month or so but we spent quite a bit of time with her near the end. This photo doesn't quite do her cuteness justice because you can't tell that she is only about 4'6". Isn't she sweet?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Harry!

Just as any true Harry Potter fan would do, we celebrated July 31st at the Hogar by having a birthday party for Harry. We started off by sorting the kids into houses. We brought them up one at a time and another volunteer, hiding under the table of course, acted as the hat and decided where they belonged. That was the funniest part of the evening in my opinion. Here is Martiza who was lucky enough to get put in Gryffindor.
We then dressed up by making silly pipe cleaner glasses, drawing lightening scars on their foreheads, and giving them all chopsticks as wands. Carlitos Alonso was the absolute cutest one in his glasses.
But Roberto would have to be runner-up.
Our friend Marielos, who is the psycholgist at the Hogar, dressed up as Professor Trelawney and told fortunes.
We ended off by having a candy walk and then singing and eating birthday cake.
Carlitos Alonso certainly enjoyed the cake (although I am convinced that almost none made it into his mouth)!
Our quidditch game got ruined because of the dark, so Sam never got to make his appearance as the Golden Snitch. Maybe next time . . .

Sam and Antonia

One thing Sam has really enjoyed doing during our stay here is helping Maria Antonia with her reading. She goes to the community school but is very behind her classmates. The adminstration asked Sam to read with her one-on-one for practice, and they have done it together almost every morning for thirty minutes during our three months. Needless to say, she has developed quite the crush on Sam.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Detective Day!

Last week we continued our professions theme for class and started it off by“studying” detectives. We made magnifying glasses and cut out ridiculous paper moustaches as disguises for the kids.

Xiomara looked the funniest.

But I think little Xiomara and Roberto gave her a run for her money.

Then we looked for the puzzle pieces that Sam and I had hidden around the room and when the puzzle was put together, it turned out to be a cryptic note. It said something like, “You need to solve this crime before the class is finished or someone special is going to die.” So we played a life sized game of Clue. We made people from the class be the suspects. The named suspect would come to the front and wield the guessed weapon.

Here is Xiomara looking fierce with her water gun.

It ended up being Roberto with a water balloon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

80s Aerobics

One really fun class we had with the kids was about exercising to stay healthy. Ryan and I lead an aerobics class in ridiculous 80s outfits and were shocked by how good some of them were. I think some of them must have seen old Richard Simmons videos on TV or something. Memo was especially into it. We even let him lead the class for awhile which was a riot!

Despite the fact that not one person is doing what Ryan and I are, we all look pretty good, eh?

Don´t be jealous of my awesome spandex and Ryan´s short little orange shorts.

The star guys--Ryan and Memo

Hygiene Class

My brother-in-law, Ryan, is in dental school and brought lots of supplies to donate to the Hogar. To somehow work in dentists, one of our class themes while my family was here was personal hygiene. I was shocked how interactive and fun our classes were able to be with a topic that isn´t too riveting. It heped that we had some special guests . . .

Logan and I did a silly demonstration of simple things like brushing teeth, combing hair, putting on deoderant, etc. This picture doesn´t quite show it, but I am behind Logan being his arms and his arms are the little short legs. I love this picture because you can see Carlos and Mariza on the left cracking up.
We also learned about brushing teeth with some of the kids dressed up.

The highlight of the class though was when my dad made his appearance as Cavity Man. We played a game with that giant mouth where the kids had to come up one at a time and pick one of the good foods off the table to put in the mouth. Cavity Man was there tempting them to choose the soda and candy instead. My dad was a total ham!

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