By Nancy Klos It s a new school year in Nicaragua and we arrived in Jinotega just at the start of the second week of classes. The students had only been at the Albergue for a couple weeks following their 2 months school break and it was clear they were all happy to be back with their friends and even still had that “glad to be back to school” mood, so often seen by U.S. teachers in the fall. Along with the familiar faces (who all look remarkably older in just a few months), the new faces were a delight to see (more about them later). The staff looked refreshed and ready for a new year and we had a great week of working together on curriculum and operations. I often think how “Pollyannaish” I sound when describing our time at the Albergue, but the reality is the kids are truly as delightful as they sound and the staff are a pleasure to be with. Which is my way of saying you have to see it to believe it, so I encourage you to join us in the future.
I visited both public schools that our students attend, Max Senqui, the elementary school and Jose Delores, the high school. At Max Senqui our students have wonderfully proficient signing teachers and I am thrilled to report our students at Jose Delores have a terrific interpreter working with them. Having skilled signing staff in place is the best “sign” (pun intended) that our students will gain much this academic year.
Our student count is up to 27, with 22 students in the elementary and 5 students in high school. In February we welcomed 2 new girls, Noelia and Xiomara, and in March, Katy arrived. In April we may be receiving a new Young boy.
Planning was addressed for our oldest students, as we continue to prepare them for when they leave us. All of our students living at the Casa residence have work study programs designed to fit what they have indicated they are most interested in doing in their adult lives. Although we continue to stress the need to maintain their academic studies, each of these students will also be spending time weekly in job placement or training. We have our first 2 students “aging out” at the end of this year and we have already helped them with their path beyond the Albergue walls.
And speaking of walls, take a look at these, all created by Sara Werneke, Kate Mendenhall, Shawn Meyers, and Juan Korea on our February trip. We have finally turned this former classroom into a student lounge, Providing the students more space for leisure activities. The walls present some of the cultural legends of Jinotega, using the hills surrounding Jinotega as their stage. The transformation of the room in just a week was amazing to watch.
As funds allow, we will be adding storage cabinetary for art and game materials. I can’t wait to see what it looks like with all the futons moved in and finally getting the TV into a more appropriate location.
In addition to the artists, we had volunteers helping with other operational needs.
Evelyn Delaney, our literacy expert, did training with the teachers and had volunteers help her with organizing the reading program and classroom materials. Evelyn, Emily, and Martha are pictured here. Julia, who accompanied her dad on the trip, an ENT physician working at the clinic, took a break from helping at the Albergue and enjoyed a frosty treat at the Flor de Mayo (aka “our bakery”). Penny And Mary inventoried all the donated Items we transported and stored them for the staff to use.
We had a professional photographer join us on this trip, Adam Forgash, whom you can look up on his website. We have not yet seen the fruits of his labor since he is in the process of moving from New York City to Tulsa (yes, we gave him a taste of Oklahoma hospitality). But I am anticipating there will be stunning photos to see. He was awesome and an incredibly good sport to be working under some challenging photo shoot conditions.
Its been a project coming along for a while, but based on what we saw in February the opening of The Oklahoma, the newest (and only) Oklahoma barbecue restaurant/boutique hotel will be opening soon (perhaps as this is printed!) We saw the finishing touches going in the construction and all that was left were the furnishings and moving of the grand smoker to its rightful place. It will be totally accommodating for both deaf patrons and deaf employees.
This photo taken by a volunteer, looking down on the town of Jinotega is too small to give justice to the beauty of the weather, the town, or the people. But I hope it is just enough of a taste to lure you to come join us on our next trip. ADIOS!
Mayflower Medical Outreach Inc.
P.O. Box 75449, Oklahoma City, OK 73147