As a volunteer, one of the best parts of service is that, for the most part, you really get to shape your weekly schedule however you want. Sometimes a volunteer collaborates with one school, and other schools reach out for collaboration. Sometimes a volunteer doesn’t work well with a counterpart, but then finds three new counterparts to work better with. Many times a volunteer has to evaluate whether their contribution is taking over someone’s actual job, therefore they might decide to step away in order to ensure sustainability. Very rarely, a volunteer might feel undervalued, or like people are ungrateful for their work, therefore they might decide to walk away. At the end of the day, we do a lot of teaching in formal or informal settings, but overall we can’t do people’s jobs for them (i.e. teachers, consultants, coordinators, etc).
My schedule has changed in a lot of ways during my two years of service, but here is a look at my most generalized weekly agenda so you get an idea of what my life in La Guajira was like:
Disclaimer: Many classes, meetings, and/or activities’ days or times changed during the two years after some experience or experimentation. Timing depended on what I felt was the best time not only for me, but also to ensure the most amount of people would attend. Between noon and 3pm was usually not a good time to plan anything because of the extreme heat. This schedule shows the most optimal timing for all of my most successful activities.
In the blue shows the most consistent activities that occurred almost 100% of my almost two years in Dibulla. If not every week, these activities occurred every other week.
In the green are activities that were more periodic or seasonal, but still occurred for the grand majority of my service. Our Community Savings Group occurred about 1-2 times a month for 10 months straight. The business advising of the Wayuu artisanal small business occurred for about 10 months straight, about 2-3 times a week. The SENA courses and Asoreagro courses lasted anywhere from 2 to 6 months, each course occurring once or twice a week.
In the yellow are the activities that occurred only once in a while. I taught dance at the school called Cresce, a school for children with developmental challenges, about once a month. I worked at the local Pre-K for about 6 months, about once a week. I gave dance classes to Senior Citizens and adults about 10-15 times during my service. I only gave about 3 Cheerleading workshops, and Kyle gave 1 formal Football workshop at the same time, but I helped him teach a lot of pick-up football on our street. As for dance performances, I was requested to do them with or without my students on varying days or times, but they would occur about once every two months.
I chose Monday as an “admin day” because most holidays took place on that day, there was about 1-2 Monday holidays per month. I also preferred traveling to the office in Barranquilla on Mondays (sometimes on Fridays) because we are one of the farthest PC sites, therefore we usually had to stay at a PC approved and paid hotel because we weren’t allowed to travel after 6pm. Since it took about 6 hours for us to get to Barranquilla, and we usually had to stay at least one night, I didn’t want the trip to interfere with the rest of my weekly activities.
Work at the Schools: Pre-K through High School, and Crece
The schools had three total uniforms: 1) the regular everyday uniform, 2) the physical education uniform, and 3) Seniors (11th graders) had their own special everyday uniform, though they used the same physical education uniform as the rest of the school.
Primary through High School:
The indigenous students at school wore their traditional attire instead of the uniform. I loved getting to know them, or helping them with homework:
I had the distinct opportunity to work with children with developmental challenges at a center called “Crece”. They didn’t wear a uniform. I worked there about once a month during my whole service:
Working at the Pre-K
I taught dance, stretching, breathing-work, and gymnastics at the Pre-K once a week for about 1.5 hours for a duration of about 6 months:
Our Community Center Home
There were so many exciting gatherings, classes, learning, and more happening at our house. I decided to start calling it a community center, especially because of the following activities that would happen at least 2-3 times a week:
Senior Citizen Dance Group
I worked with a group of about 8-10 women, and only 1 (sometimes 2) men. One of the men was always the “King” or “Rey Momo” for good reason with his incredible dancing skills and bright smiley personality. Don Vicente Móvil is one of the farmers Kyle worked with often:
Porch Time with Kids
We spent a lot of time hanging out, playing, and doing all sorts of activities with the kids. Kyle and I would lead the kids in activities with reading, singing, music, drawing & art, helped with homework, English, played football, danced, had conversations, played soccer, did gymnastics, and much more. This was usually not organized and impromtu:
This didn’t happen on our porch, but later on the girl in the video did come at least twice for voice lessons:
This musical magic did happen on our porch:
Youth Dance Classes
This was one of the most consistent, popular, and important parts of my service. Not only did I connect with the community through their/our music & culture, I taught financial literacy and Community Savings Groups through these classes.
My Dance Performances
I performed with the kids, I performed by myself, at festivals, at the schools, at parades, and much, much more. This would occur about once every two months: