The month of October is our time of introduction to the Cultural Center—time for Sam and I to gain a better understanding of its history, observe how each program run out of the Center works, and start to envision what area we might like to focus on in the future.
Officially, from our arrival until about January is “Observation” period. While Sam has already joked about being ready to jump in and “build some houses!” (mocking stereotypes of some international volunteers), it is a good reminder to take things slowly. There are many levels of understanding to gain here, from Nicaraguan culture to the culture of the Center itself. Learning names, figuring out the bureaucracy of the institution, becoming familiar with the various schedules of the multitude of activities that are run out of the Center…the list of things to learn continues.
As Batahola volunteers our most concrete task’ is teaching English Monday through Thursday mornings, which Sam and I take turns doing, each teaching separately. This allows us time to get other work done, perhaps go to Casa Ben Linder to hear a lecture, or do what we need to do. In addition to this important (and rewarding) job, by the start of 2012 we will likely be fitting into one or two other main projects. Sam has already expressed interest in workshops dealing with issues surrounding violence prevention training, or gender issues; I would like to be incorporating my interest in making/teaching/promoting arts into whatever I do. But, we’ll see what happens during this observation period!