Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 5

Hola from Punta Cana, mis amigos!!

Katie DeTuro (WSC) and two campers

Day 5 started off like most of the previous days--- all of us woke up, ate breakfast, and some of us got our workouts in. Cara and I went to pick up the children from Veron for the second day with Deportes Para La Vida (DPV). Some children that showed up the first day didn’t show up the second day. However, it was great to see that we had several new children show up for the second day that weren’t there the first. When speaking to one of the (almost fluent) English speakers, he told me that he told his friends to come today after attending the first day of the camp with DPV.
As usual, we started off with a “dinámica” to warm the kids up and get them fired up for the day. It consisted of a Spanish chant to a very catchy beat and hand gestures like many dinámicas. I must say, I think this is our favorite dinámica so far; I say this because we have been repeating it all day, long after the camp was over, even through dinner time. After the dinámica, the groups were divided in two, and a variety of games were played while learning about several important social issues.

One game we played had a resemblance to the “trust fall” activity some Americans play when they are younger. Eight people stood around one lone person in a very small circle. The person would keep their feet planted on the ground and start falling. The other eight people would assure the lone child’s safety while making her lean in different directions. This activity was a metaphor for the support that family and friends give to the lone person. Then, our DPV instructor, Victor, told the eight people to imagine the center person has HIV. He instructed two outside people to act as parents and step back and point with accusation instead of supporting the lone individual. Another two were aunts and uncles who stood back, another two were brothers and sisters that turned their backs, and another two were friends that stepped back. This time, when the lone person started leaning, they would essentially fall. This was a great message to the kids to tell them that even when people get HIV, they need the support they usually have from family and friends. They can’t abandon people that get the disease, because they will no longer have much needed support.

Watching the kids play these simple games and learning so much always shocks me. They are laughing and having fun, while also answering the (sometimes difficult) questions about the details of HIV, AIDS, abuse, etc. I was even more impressed when Laura, a 13 year-old female who translates for all of us, who told me the important concepts of the games before the instructor even explained them.

In another game, children were given scenes in which different pressure-filled situations were presented, to which they had to properly respond. Situations included turning away sex from a person of more power than them, not getting rides from the opposite sex that you don’t know, amongst others. In my group, we acted out a classroom situation in which the teacher (played by me) asked a student to stay after class and demanded that the student be his girlfriend to get a good grade in the class. She had to refuse the demand in a high pressure situation. I must say, the girl I worked with might have a future in the acting business, but me, not so much…

What shocked me about this activity was what the instructor explained afterwards. He said that sometimes there is a child abuse case and the police are called. When the police go to the house, the parents often just pay off the cops to leave their house. Cops in the Dominican Republic make about 180 dollars per month. Therefore, the cops give in to getting paid even a little cash by the parents. This really hit me hard and made me feel thankful for the authorities that are available in the U.S.

Other activities were done throughout the day, including peer pressure limbo, partner soccer juggling, and more – all with their own important lessons. At the end of the day, all VT students, DPV instructors, Peace Corps volunteers and children took a huge group photo! Shortly after, we ended with a huge “LET’S GO, HOKIES!!” chant. We then relaxed in the lagoons and enjoyed each others company for the rest of the day. We went to the grocery store for a little food and ate at La Tortuguita with the DPV instructors.

We then headed to our classroom around 9pm and learned what drives the DPV instructors to deviate from the social norm and care for the community like they do. They all had their stories, some of which were similar. They all came from shanty-towns with little money. They all had the motivation to help their community because, simply put, if they did not do it, no one would. Some started as early as the age of 15 to make huge differences in their communities. It was truly inspiring to see that there are people out there,even in third-world countries, that are self-motivated to help others and make the world a better place. After all the stories, each instructor received an “Actively Caring” wristband.
This blog was not nearly as short as I had planned but I didn’t want to leave anything out for all of you! Keep following our cause and know that we are excited to start the sports-teaching section of our camp on Wednesday!

Devin Carter

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and for posting the photos. I can't wait to hear what happens next!!