Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Family Projects...and Gringas

Today's blog has two points:

1. To tell you about Proyectos Familiares (Family Projects), and
2. To tell you about gringas -- the white female foreigners like me and the food you can buy in the street.

I apologize in advance that it might be a little scattered.

Pues si (so anyway),

One. Yesterday after work I had my first Proyecto Familiar. Each volunteer is required to do two Proyectos Familiares each month, and I was a little nervous beforehand. During a Proyecto Familiar, you are assigned to a family of kids at NPH -- a biological family of children here. The idea is that for two hours, you hang out with the family of kids and do some kind of activity. They like walking to Parramos, taking the bus and visiting Chimaltenango, making pizza, making cake, really making any kind of food, playing games, and watching movies. Proyectos exist because on most days, kids are either with their section or with their class in school all day long. They could theoretically go days and days without ever seeing their older brother, younger sister, or cousin (especially if someone is in high school and therefore living 20 minutes away in Chimal). Proyectos are time for biological families to spend time with one another. For volunteers, the benefit is to get to know a group of kids you don't already know.

For yesterday's proyecto, Celeste (old volunteer -- we new volunteers did our first proyecto with an old volunteer just to see how things work) and I hung out with two boys from the oldest section at NPH: Jorge (16) and Viktor (15). They were SUPER shy at literally wouldn't say a word, which was hilarious...but then they opened up. We walked to Parramos, sat and ate at a street vendor, came back to NPH, and then played four rounds of some intense fusbol (which Celeste and I lost all four embarrassing). Though it was sort of awkward at first (a. I didn't know them, b. my Spanish still isn't awesome, c. they were shy), it ended up being so fun! I also realized that it was the first time I had spent time with just a few kids. We are usually around at least 20 (more like 100) at a time, so spending one-on-one time with a pair of brothers was actually really really nice. Overall, great Proyecto Familiar! My next one is Saturday, and I'm on my own with a family of four. Let's hope it goes okay!

And Two. On our trip to Parramos, we ate gringas for dinner. This sounds funny at first, because "gringo" or "gringa" (for women) is also the slang term used throughout Central America to denote foreigners, usually people from the United States. It doesn't normally carry a negative meaning, but I guess it depends on tone. I've been referred to as a gringa about a thousand times already, and it's no big deal. However, a "gringa" is also a type of food that you can buy from street vendors. They are technically Mexican cuisine: seasoned meat cooked souvlaki style (roasted vertically and shaved off) mixed with cheese and placed in a tortilla, heated over a griddle and served with lots of different sauces (avocado, chile, onions, etc.). I'd heard some of the other volunteers talk about gringas before, but I'd never eaten one before yesterday.

They were delicious! The boys did fit in a joke when I asked what a gringa was, because they replied, "Um, you are!" (Thanks), but that didn't deter from the gringa experience at all. Soooo yummy. I can't believe I waited over two months to eat one. They are maybe sorta the Central American version of the Greek gyro, if that gives you any idea of how awesome they are. 

So, there you have it: Proyecto Familiares and gringas. Good times all around. And more good news: no earthquakes today, and tomorrow is Thursday already! Woo hoo! Til next time, nos vemos! :)

Viktor and Jorge

 Celeste, Viktor, Jorge and me after Celeste and I lost FOUR times in a row. Pathetic haha.

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