​Jannis Steinke

Hi Katie,

Finally I have got time to write about my project what I promised you to do about 2 weeks ago. I returned to Germany without problems and now I am really sad that I cannot be in Ecuador anymore.

But now lets talk about Malingua:

I will first write about me and my experiences and then write some suggestions of mine to improve or change something or just some comments that come to my mind:

The first day I arrived in Malingua, I felt really a little bit helpless and lonely because first I had to cope and to deal with the new circumstances and the new food and to get to know the new people. The other thing was that I had to decide everything that I do at school for myself and didn´t receive help. I had to decide who to teach, what to teach and how. So this was a challenge for me to be self confident and to trust myself that I am strong enough just to do what I think is right. I watched the first day how Rosa is teaching at school and directly recognized the big losses that exist there: Rosa has to teach too many people at the same time so that it is not possible to dedicate to a single pupil if he or she has questions. The other thing is that Rosa does not explain anything at all, her style of teaching is just to tell the pupils what to do and if they are not able to finish in time, they receive an X. However, Rosa doesn`t have time to explain anything. Because of that experience, I decided to take a small group of pupils to teach them separately and in another room. The first week I took the 5th grade (I think about 6 children) just to test myself and them, what I am able to teach and what they are able to learn and if my methods are good or not.

By the way, I never taught before especially not in Spanish and so I had to make up methods and contents that I could teach and see if it´s good. It was sometimes very hard to think about new topics because I didn´t find a book for teaching English and so I invented everything by myself. the books that exist in the library are much too difficult, even the "easy books". So I started to let them write down their names on a piece of paper and to paint their favourite animal. After that, I translated that in English and also taught them how these animals are moving and what they are eating. So we were able to build phrases. Quickly I recognized that my methods are good and that it is very easy to teach if you mix teaching things on the whiteboard with playing games (where I tried also to include things to learn) or singing songs.

The children liked my classes, I think, and so I took also the 6th grade together with the 5th and until the last week I had about 14 pupils. if you are interested in the things that I taught especially, you can look in the volunteer´s file because I wrote most of the things down. In the last week, I took the 3rd and also one day the 4th and the 7th grade and with the small pupils, I painted much or cut things out of paper with scissors.  Sometimes it was hard to teach because I always had to be sure that it is right what I was doing there because no one ever gave me a feed-back or visited my classes to watch me teaching. They always expected that everything I was doing was great and good and that was sometimes a big pressure.

About the classes at the college I am not sure because the pupils are so shy, they neither tell you when they understood, nor when they didn`t understand and always speak with such a low voice that I could hardly understand anything. So I was never sure if they liked my classes or if they understood anything and also the college was only on 4 afternoons because in the 3rd week no one arrived (maybe because of the party in Guantoagloma). but it was also hard to teach math because I had to get to know new vocabulary and to make it interesting and understanding. Also no one told me the exact level of the pupils. Paulino just gave me the books and pointed on one page with the words "I suppose they stopped around here, but I am not sure...". So I had to guess when I prepared classes the level of the students and had to adapt my methods on this imagined level. The next day in the afternoon, when I had classes, I found out, that the students were much worse than I imagined. even in the 1er de bachillerato, with 18 years, they are not able to count properly things like 2 times 8 or 4 times 9 !! So I could not really teach the things in their books, I had to start at the basics! I felt very sorry for them,   because it is not the students fault but the absence of a proper maths teacher since 2 years I think is a big problem.  Moreover I think that the amount of materials in the library is very very great!! Thanks to Sytske, she helped me very much with buying so much material and games, many times I was inspired by them to prepare my classes. But I think now there is missing much paper, glue, felt tips, pens and rubbers because I used this very much. if there is any money that could be spent for this, maybe you can buy this and put it in the library.

In my free time, I often helped at the fields, built a house for guinea pigs, helped with the animals or just walked with Willian. Willian cared most of the time about me and that was very great because he helped me not to feel lonely what I actually never did!!  The nights were very cold and so I had to check how many blankets I would need and how many clothes I had to put on to prevent me from being cold.

Sometimes I think, Paulino, Elvia and the children were not very considerately at night, because there were times, when also the grandmothers slept there and they were so loud and even put on loud music that it was not possible to sleep. One day, I remember that there was a big union in Malingua and after that, they were talking the whole night until 2 o´clock and I tried to sleep. every time, someone entered  or left and every time slammed the door and even put on loud music. I think, they don´t have a sense for this and I know, that they don´t mean it bad, but it was some time hard to tolerate. I didn´t talk about that with them because I also know, that the end of the day and the night is mostly the only time of the day were they can sit together and have free time and have time for their children. if I had told them about that, they even would have been more scared that I feel uncomfortable there and also i said to me that I have to get used to the circumstances there and not to behave like a European tourist.

The greatest day was really the party that they arranged for me on the last Thursday because they only did it for me and acted in a play that showed the scene how I arrived there. Later they played their traditional music and I had to dance with Enma what was very funny. they even had presents for me, a scarf and a hat, and Pedro made a flute for me. In the end, when I said thanks to all the people that came there ( just the half of the village!!) I recognized how sad I was and how grateful for them.

All in all, Malingua Pamba is just a piece of heaven, like they told me that Pamelita said to them.  The people are just so friendly and care so much about you and while I stayed there I felt always so calm and happy and satisfied with myself as I never felt before in my life. when I left there I had the feeling that I really helped them and maybe I get the chance to return one day.

If I consider, I don´t have really a tip for you to improve or to change something, because every volunteer is different and no one can really help the volunteers because it is their work and not yours. if they have questions, they can always ask you, but normally a volunteer goes there also to get more self confident and to learn to manage unknown situations on their own. I also would recommend all future volunteers to try to deal with the circumstances and to adapt to the life there without complaining because they come there to see a completely other world and so they don´t have to carry too much behaviour of their home country to Malingua. If they stick to this tip, their experience over there will be much more intensive and they can say in the end that they really have been in Ecuador!

Just a slight thing to improve: In the description of the project in Malingua that TravelWorks gave me, is not written down the height of Malingua and that sometimes the streets are so bad. Maybe you can write, that it is recommendable to carry a back pack ( if you remember our trip on the first day) and that people must be sure that they can live in a height of 3100 m for 4 weeks. I don´t know if you write the description for the project in Malingua, but if you do that, maybe you can change it.

I hope I didn´t forget anything, hope that you are fine and please write back when you have read my experiences.

Nice greets also to José Luis and bye,

Jannis

​​Centro Educativo La Minga, Inc. is a Non-Profit, tax deductible organization.

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