Monday, July 28, 2014

Farewells, welcomes and changes for Up Close

What a bittersweet month it has been! We have had to say goodbye to a fantastic group of both Bolivian and British volunteers, while having to prepare and welcome our new group for the next three months. Laura, Kav, Jonathan, Anita and Raquel have left big boots to fill, but I am confident that our new British volunteers Antonella, Jade, Kate and Leighanne will bring a lot to Up Close with all their experience and passion. We also have two new Bolivian volunteers, Judith and Adriana who will be working with Up Close for the next year and have already become part of the Up Close family.

This cohort will see us continuing with the work from last cohort; supporting and strengthening the projects of Up Close, but with a few changes…

We are really excited to confirm that this cohort we will be working with a local football coach to bring football classes to Jupapina! Our cooperante, Judith, will be coordinating this project, while our new volunteer Leighanne will be helping deliver classes. Leighanne has been coaching football in the UK, and has also worked in South Africa coaching young people, so I am excited to see what she can bring to the classes for the children in Jupapina.

The first football class in Jupapina was a huge success!

The ICS volunteers this cohort will also be supporting Fundación Porvenir, which works with disabled children through equine therapy. Both Adriana and Judith will be coordinating this project, and Antonella and Jade will be supporting the foundation during their time here. Antonella has ample experience working with both young people and horses, while Jade has a passion for working with animals, as she is currently studying veterinary sciences at university.

Adriana has already fallen in love with Fundación Porvenir

This version of Nuestro Espacio, a project which provides a safe and fun place for children to play through moral and value-based activities and games, will be led by Kate, Antonella and Leighanne and coordinated by Judith. Kate has worked with girl guides in the UK, as well as coaching lacrosse to a variety of ages, so I am sure that they will make a fantastic team in leading the project.

Almost all of our British volunteers will be helping out in Mallasa zoo during their mornings, with the exception of Leighanne who will be providing support in the Valley of the Moon Children’s Centre. The volunteers from the past cohort fell in love with both of these projects, and I am sure that this will be no different in this cohort.

We will continue to work with the Hermann Gmeiner high school in Mallasa (from which Judith graduated not too long ago), through giving English classes which will look at world cultures through the English language. The team which will be delivering these classes are Kate, Jade and Antonella. This is a brand new experience for the volunteers, as they have not taught English before, so it will be as much a learning curve for them as it is for the students. Having seen the plans for their classes over the next few weeks I am excited to see the students’ reaction, so watch this space!

We will also be working with the Hermann Gmeiner school through providing self-esteem workshops. This was an initiative of our previous volunteer, Raquel, and proved to be extremely successful. We will be aiming to give the workshops on a monthly basis, and will provide a space in which adolescents from the school can discuss and ask questions about issues which affect young people, such as alcohol or bullying. The team working on this will be Kate, Antonella and Adriana, and I am sure they will continue to deliver high quality sessions this cohort.

I am absolutely thrilled with the new ICS Up Close team, and I can’t wait to see them put all their previous experience into practice in Jupapina and Mallasa. All the volunteers are full of enthusiasm, passion and excitement, and I am sure they will maintain the high standard and expectations left by the previous cohort. 

The new Up Close team (from left to right): Bell, Adriana, Judith, Tristan, Bianca, Antonella, Fergus, Amanda, Jade, Kate, Cerys and Leighanne. 

Written by Cerys Tilston

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