The following blog was written by Aryana Bolourian, a rising Junior in the Bonner Leaders Program at the Campus Y. Aryana works at the Teen Center as a Bonner; she is working with AISEC in Santiago Chile this summer through the Bonner International Summer of Service internship.
Taking care, loving, and playing with the children has been incredible, but this week, the other volunteers and I wanted to do something more at Protectora. So, early in the week, we spent an entire day huddled for warmth in the upstairs conference room—there is no heating—planning activities for the kids. We came up with a program of educational and artistic exercises, separated by age group, for the children. My personal favorite, i.e. the one I planned, was based on the colors of the rainbow. For the two-year- olds, we played a three-minute cartoon video of a girl shooting colors from a canon into the sky, forming an arcoiris (rainbow). After playing the video, I quizzed the kids on what they had learned, using colored objects around the room. Then, using colored pencils, they created their own rainbows that the volunteers and I had outlined…of course, they did not appear in the typical ROYGBIV color order. The three-year-olds partook in the same artistic activity, except with finger-paints, but with an added twist. Instead of the video in Spanish, I spent time teaching them the colors in English. It was so rewarding hearing them chant the colors in English as I pointed to the different paint bottles.
The next day, the three-year-olds took a field trip to a farm, located at the Veterinarian University a few miles down the road. The kids had been learning the names of different farm animals, and it was time to put their knowledge to the test! Some of their parents joined us on the trip, but it was our job to wrangle up the kids when they ran off and to hold their hands around the exhibits. It was an incredible trip, and I felt like a kid again, gawking at the animals that roamed free through the farm. We saw llamas, chickens, bunnies, goats, and a gallineta—a chicken-like animal I had never seen before!
As a follow-up to their farm trip, the volunteers and I created several pictures on cardboard sheets, and played a game of memory with the kids. We laid out several tiles on the floor, all with different farm animals, and had the children come up in turns, flipping two over and trying to find matches. For the younger kids, we made cards depicting different family members, as they had spent the past couple weeks learning about families. When drawing the Mom, Dad, Grandfather, etc. cards, we used one color for each character. For example, the mom was blue, the grandfather pink, and so on. We wanted to reinforce the colors we had taught them a few days prior, but we also wanted to plant in their minds that girls do not always have to be red or pink and boys do not always have to be green or blue. Us volunteers had witnessed some of the boys angrily taking the toy cars from the girls and pushing dolls on them. Likewise, some of the girls ridiculed the boys who played with what are typically deemed as more feminine toys. While colored memory tiles may seem trivial, we hoped to start teaching these kids at a young age that societal gender roles and stereotypes do not have to be followed.
This weekend, a group of volunteers and I went to Valparaiso, a gorgeous port city about two hours northwest of Santiago. We spent three nights in a hostel, surrounded by Valparaiso’s magnificent hills, each of which is painted by colored houses and buildings. In the second half of the 19th century, Valparaiso played in an important role for sailors traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Because of this, in the city, you can see European influence mixed with Chilean culture. Fifteen minutes from Valparaiso is a beach town called Viña del Mar, where we stopped for half the day to bask in the sun. On our last night in Valparaiso, we were lucky enough to catch the final match of Copa America, where Chile beat Argentina in penalties! It was unreal celebrating with all the Chileans on the streets—cheering their national futbol chant: ¡Chi Chi Chi Le Le Le VIVA CHILE!