Love to everyone back home! I’m Miranda, from School of the Arts in San Francisco. Today Genean and I were leaders of the day together, on the day that we finally started our Community Action Project!

We all bused down to the Institutio de Santa Cruz, with a pair of volunteers from Sonati, the local organization that we’re partnering with. The volunteers, Ingrid and Serena, showed us how to mix cement and apply it to the wall. Our CAP project is a mural in Sonati’s trademark style: all recycled materials. The twisty, elegant tree (drawn by Genean) in the center of the mural will be a collage of broken tile. Other sections– the butterfly, the trash can, and the bird– are made of recycled bottle caps. (I’m not sure how much detail other blogs have gone into about the CAP project, so forgive me if I’m repetitive.)

Our “Nica buddies,” the students we shadowed when we first visited the Institutio, helped us with the mural. I was surprised by how easy it was to work together, in spite of the language barrier. There was a lot of “Asi,” “Like this,” “Aqui,” “Here,” and “No, no asi, asi,” assisted by a lot of pointing. With something concrete and physical, like constructing a mural, language isn’t always necessary. We spoke with our hands and listened with our eyes.

There wasn’t enough room for everyone to work on the mural at once, but people took turns cheerfully, without anyone exactly organizing a system. We all got a turn to hack at the wall with the piquetas (sort of hatchets/pickaxes that made the wall rough enough for the cement to stick. The piqueta part turned out to be a lot louder, harder, and less fun than I had imagined, especially after we’d been doing it for a while.) And everyone got a turn to press material– tile or bottle caps– into the cement.

I was impressed by how fast we were going and thought we’d get more than halfway through before we left– and we might have, if we hadn’t run out of cement and had to go home early. We head back tomorrow morning, to finish what we started. And to see our new friends– for the last time.  (But it’s okay; we’ve all friended each other on Facebook.)



I was supposed to buy white spirit (paint remover) at the hardware store this morning, but I forgot. Of course, no one else knew this, so Michael cheerfully coated his hands in oil paint. When he asked Humberto where he should wash his hands, Humberto had to explain to him that there was no way water would have any effect, and that his hands were going to be sticky and blue for the rest of the day. So Michael ate his lunch with plastic-bag gloves.


One of our English students turned 13 tonight, so we all sang Happy Birthday to him (in both languages.)