Hola y bienvenidos to our Chitre trip blog!

My name is Brandon, and I somehow ended up as the first Lideres del Dia, or Leader of the Day. Today’s central focus was aid and development, and we had another action-packed day to explore the nuances and interconnectedness between culture (yesterday’s focus), sustainability, and much more.

We started off the morning early, around 5:30AM-6:00AM. As the LDD, it was my unfortunate duty to knock on everyone’s doors to wake them up. Not only did I have to wake up early, I had to hear the complaints from all the Glimpsers I disturbed. We went to our breakfast spot, the comfortable Cafe Caney, and enjoyed a great breakfast, although somehow, I ended up with some type of liver on my plate, which, I admit, was not for me.

We had more seminars today too, where we learned about our ultimate goal, the Community Action Project (CAP). We stressed the importance of community engagement and sustainability throughout the whole project. The question was not “what we need to do for the community”, but rather “what the community needs us to do”. By embracing an attitude of learning first, we can work WITH people to achieve projects that are beneficial, short-term and long-term.

So, who are we working with the next few days? It is the wonderful Escuela Paris, designed for the París neighborhood, near Chitré. At its opening, 50 years ago, it once had 130 students, 6 teachers, and filled classrooms. Now, however, the school has suffered from chronic low enrollment, resulting in less teachers needed, leading to parents transferring students away. This vicious cycle has forced the school’s director to combine many grades in one classroom, and if they do not enroll more students, they may soon be closed.

The President of the school’s Parent Association met with us today and took us on a tour of the school, and explained that the main need was to attract more students. She offered us some of her ideas, such as repainting the faded paint on the walls of the school and creating murals that beautify each classroom. We also came up with our own ideas to freshen up the school, such as hanging nets on the basketball rims and painting a welcome sign to invite visitors. We also met a 7-year old boy named Hector, who was incredibly friendly and enthusiastic. We learned a bit about what the students were interested in as well, and he mentioned soccer and baseball! I discovered that he is actually a goalie, like me – I hope he’ll be able to show me some of his skills!

To finish off the day, we turned towards our favorite pastime, UNO. Although I can say with confidence that we are all closely bonding, if you looked at our UNO games, you wouldn’t be able to tell. As soon as the +4 card is played, there aren’t any more friends!

I can’t wait for the rest of the trip, and I hope you are as excited as we are. My fellow Glimpsers wanted me to add in that we all (mostly) miss you. See ya next time!

(NOTE: We’ve been having internet issues tonight, so we were unfortunately unable to upload any photos tonight. This should hopefully not be a recurring issue.)