We need volunteers March 2016!

Since I (Amy) left, we have had a few more wonderful volunteers on the ground. We are currently looking for a volunteer for March or April 2016.

If you are interested in volunteering with the program I am Achuar, please go to the volunteer website iamachuar.org to submit an application!

Why volunteer with ‘I AM ACHUAR’?

There is a real chance to bond with the students and the community here. In the classroom, you are their teacher, but in the community you are their teacher, role model, and friend – and they will also be yours.

Most volunteers love the pace of life here, how relaxed it is, the freedom, the lack of stress. The jungle will reward you every day with delicious food like fresh pineapple, papaya, and plantains; not to mention the gorgeous sunsets and night sky that you  can view without even leaving your porch. You will have the chance to live, laugh and learn with the Achuar, and it will be an amazing and unforgettable experience.

Amy’s personal blog

Hi everyone! My name is Amy, and I am a full-time volunteer at Colegio Tuna from May – December 2014. This is also what other volunteers through our program will be doing. Since I don’t get much time on the solar powered internet (and it can be pretty slow at times), I am not updating this blog, but I do have my own personal blog dedicated to writing about my experiences at the school. So please take a look at my blog to learn more about my experience as a volunteer. Click HERE for a new tab to open to the webpage of personal blog. Thanks for reading!

Amesegenallo (thank you in Amharic)

This post was written by Elisabeth, who was a volunteer at both Kapawi lodge and the high school, doing part-time at each. Volunteers will only work full-time at the high school, and will not be working at the Kapawi lodge.

“Kalimera,” says Mauricio as he leaves the English class. “Kalispera,” says Ronaldo as both of them run up the steps cut into the muddy bank to rejoin their schoolmates for the break. We have just talked about languages. The sample sentence was about them: “I speak Achuar, Spanish and a little English.” Mauricio, forever the inquisitive, asks me in Spanish: “Teacher, how many languages do you speak?” “Let me see: Hungarian is my mother tongue. I speak English, Russian, Spanish, Greek, a little Amharic and I know Latin.” “Can you say something in Russian?” I pause. It’s hard to say something in a THIRD language when you’re constantly switching between another two. But then “gosudarstvo” (government) comes to me, God only knows why. “How about Greek?” “Well, ‘efharisto’ is ‘thank you’ and ‘kalimera’ is ‘good morning’. They repeat the words without fail and, once again, it dawns on me what a strain the fact that English is written and pronounced so differently might be for them. Continue reading

A perfect day at Kapawi Lodge

This post was written by Elisabeth, who was a volunteer at both Kapawi lodge and the high school, doing part-time at each. Volunteers will only work full-time at the high school, and will not be working at the Kapawi lodge.

“Are you sure you want to stay behind?” asked the barman, then the cook, a little later the maintenance head and, before leaving, the Achuar guide. “Yes, please. I haven’t had a day off since I arrived. It’s Day 32 now. This is when you guys start your 24-day vacation,” I answered.

1

The whole team of the Lodge was going to Kapawi community to clear the area around the laundry where the bed linen and the towels get washed. Well, I don’t know much about the washing part. When I last visited the place, an old lady from the village was pouring a generous amount of bleach into a huge barrel full of water and was trying to push down the sheets with a piece of wood. No wonder the stuff comes back to the Lodge with a batik effect… Continue reading

Living Dangerously

This post was written by Elisabeth, who was a volunteer at both Kapawi lodge and the high school, doing part-time at each. Volunteers will only work full-time at the high school, and will not be working at the Kapawi lodge.

Lodge from the air

Lodge from the air

I left the rain forest less than four weeks ago and have withdrawal symptoms. I daydream about pottering around in my palm fronded hut at the Lodge and taking the short boat ride to the high school. 

I keep in touch with mostly everyone and was looking at the image of the Lodge posted by one of the boat drivers (reflecting a time when the lagoon was larger) with a longing sigh this morning.

Sunset in the rain forest

Sunset in the rain forest

Continue reading

The spirit of the jungle

This post was written by Elisabeth, who was a volunteer at both Kapawi lodge and the high school, doing part-time at each. Volunteers will only work full-time at the high school, and will not be working at the Kapawi lodge.

The Amazon

The Amazon

“If you don’t get better by Monday, we will take you to Sumpa, the shaman,” says Joffre at breakfast hearing me cough and sneeze. There is a lot of laughter when he adds in Spanish, “He can then suck the bad spirits out of your body”. I have no doubt about the sexual innuendo involved, but since there are only two women around (a tiny, wafer-thin single mother and myself) you can’t blame the guys for this kind of banter. And they’ve been good.

“I have to leave in ten minutes,” I was grumbling on Friday when, after a slow start to the day, it looked like I would be late for my first class at 7:15. The boat ride is at least 15 minutes (although the head of our maintenance team managed to cover the distance in 7 minutes last week when, on account of a long briefing in the manager’s office, we left after 7). “I must be at the High School on time even if I have to swim,” I am declaring, which is silly, of course, but has the desired effect. Someone offers to take me if my assigned boat driver doesn’t turn up, and then it transpires that he is already waiting for me at the boat landing quite prepared to not have breakfast until he returns.

The cabins and lagoon in rainy season

The cabins and lagoon in rainy season

Continue reading

Sleepless in the Amazon

This post was written by Elisabeth, who was a volunteer at both Kapawi lodge and the high school, doing part-time at each. Volunteers will only work full-time at the high school, and will not be working at the Kapawi lodge.

The Lodge

3:22 am. I’ve been awake for an hour and a half trying to go back to sleep. The usual method of reading the monolingual Spanish dictionary didn’t help; it only reinforced my impression that English and Spanish are the same languages, you only pronounce the words differently. Not true, of course, these days I am painfully aware that my knowledge of verb conjugations is still rudimentary at best. (How many Spanish words in the above paragraph, you may ask. I counted 21 including the word “counted”.)

Being up in this ungodly hour reminds me of a similar spell of sleeplessness in Ethiopia. It lasted for about six months in my first placement and then repeated itself in Aksum. Over here in the rain forest, it is the fact that I will be leaving soon that makes me restless. I have about six weeks at best to give the programme a big push and hand over to Geraldine, who is arriving at the end of March.

Continue reading

The hemline

This post was written by Elisabeth, who was a volunteer at both Kapawi lodge and the high school, doing part-time at each. Volunteers will only work full-time at the high school, and will not be working at the Kapawi lodge.

“And what exactly is your method when teaching English?” asks the lady from the States as we are waiting in Kusutkau for the flight to arrive from Shell. “I don’t have a special method, we just talk about things that they want to say in English. If they want to say ‘I am dying of love’, I help them say it.” The lady and her friends, as well as Omar laugh. Omar, the naturalist guide from Quito, has seen me in action when at 6 am in the morning I round up everybody in the staff canteen to sign up for the day’s English classes. “I can’t believe what I am seeing”, he says to our resident manager. “Elizabeth has just arranged for English classes for everyone. It took her about a minute and a half.”

The English classroom

The English classroom

Lessons usually start at 7 am in the dedicated English palm fronded hut that has a small whiteboard as well. When the young men from maintenance turn up, I can see that they are so sleepy they can hardly keep their eyes open. “I am very sleepy”, I write on the whiteboard. Silvio and Freddy repeat it without much thinking and a lot of yawning. “Why?” Shrugs. “Because I didn’t sleep well” I suggest. They dutifully copy it in their exercise books, although Freddy needs a bit of nudging with this. “Why?” I pursue. “Because my girlfriend left me”, says Freddy without missing a beat. I am astonished: this is something we learnt months ago. Continue reading

Last day of school

This post was written by Elisabeth, who was a volunteer at both Kapawi lodge and the high school, doing part-time at each. Volunteers will only work full-time at the high school, and will not be working at the Kapawi lodge.

Cries and whispers

By Thursday afternoon I lost my voice completely. The viral infection that I tend to get once a year started with the familiar symptoms of a sore throat, runny nose and eyes, aching joints and a lethargic feeling. I had no fever (I can be close to death and not have a fever) and felt I had to go to school on the last day, especially as I had prepared some small presents for the kids and had some printouts of their photos in plastic sleeves to protect them from the humidity.

Olger and his classmates

Olger and his classmates

“I am ill,” I wrote on the whiteboard when the students entered. “Look up the word ‘ill’ in your dictionaries,” I gestured. They dutifully did and decided that I was “enferma”. Then the second sample sentence: “I have no voice.” Olger’s younger brother, Pablo, who is just as bright as Olger, only fidgety, guessed it straight away: “You cannot speak, teacher.” “So this is what we are going to do: test papers, photos, Xmas cards and a surprise” – I wrote the last four as a list of activities I planned for them. Feedback on the test papers did not take long: once again, I could see that we needed to practise more. Whatever they produce in speaking, they do not recognize in writing. Continue reading

Returning to the rainforest

This post was written by Elisabeth, who was a volunteer at both Kapawi lodge and the high school, doing part-time at each. Volunteers will only work full-time at the high school, and will not be working at the Kapawi lodge.

I am back. The lagoon is still here, the cacique birds are just as noisy as before, the people are all familiar and by now I know whose children at the Lodge I am teaching at the High School.

cacique

cacique

I dragged back 30 small size dictionaries and some bigger ones hoping that staff at the Lodge will fall in love with the phonetic transcription system: some of them are already getting hooked.

jungle classroom

jungle classroom

Can I have some more?”This is like breast feeding on demand,” I am muttering to myself with the secret pride of a mother watching her baby grow by the day when yet another staff member declares that the only time he can make it for English is at 12:30, that is right after lunch and before the resident manager wants his at 13:00 to be followed by the barman at 14:00 (by when I have done 3-4 other sessions in the morning). All this under the blazing rain forest sun where my skin feels like the inside of a freshly washed and never drying plastic bag.

Continue reading