Monday, March 17, 2008

Our Second Week: Ali's Reflections

Our second week at the community center felt much more organized and controlled! We are getting used to seeing familiar faces, and have a core group of about 12 kids who we now see on a daily basis. Students are starting to get accustomed to the set-up of the center as they know they can’t move onto the arts and crafts/English lessons until they finish their homework. This week, the arts and crafts activities alternated each day…Monday we made play-dough, Tuesday we worked on potato impressions, Wednesday we made collages out of scrap paper, and Thursday and Friday we worked with paints.

On the volunteer side of things, we had 10 U.S. volunteers circle through this week, meaning that at some points, we had a ratio of 3 to 1 kids to volunteers! While we would like to expand on the number of kids we receive, it is nice to be able to give each one personal attention at this phase.

The response from parents and community members has been unbelievable. Thursday night we had a community meeting with a great showing! All the parents commented on a change in their children’s attitudes already—each day after school, the core group of kids now race to the community center. We always have kids waiting for us at the doors of the building before we open! Parents and neighbors are also starting to bring in snacks and small contributions (like notebooks, pencils, erasers, etc.), something we’ve been hoping for since the beginning. A local artist has also offered to give a painting class each Thursday afternoon! Community outreach is an integral part of ACORN’s mission, and the recent progress with the community has instilled in us a sense of optimism that the program has the potential to remain sustainable long after Sara and I return to the US in May.

We also posted listings on Craig’s List Buenos Aires, Ex-Pat Connections and other online forums about our need for volunteers and have already had many responses and inquiries about the positions. The response has been overwhelming- we have new volunteers coming in this week and we are excited to be able to expand and offer more individual one on one time for the kids and also get more volunteers in to the center to allow us to go out into the community and reach out to even more children.

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