Feliz Cumpleaños

Last Friday we had the inaugural session of the Healthy Schools Diplomado 2018. It’s a collaboration between the Health Center, Hospital and Office of Education. I am a Technical Volunteer for the Healthy Schools Program (Escuelas Saludables). The program was created in 1993 through an agreement between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health. The Peace Corps has been working with the Healthy Schools Program since 1993. What is a Healthy School?

“A Healthy School is an educational center that contributes to the development of basic life skills, favoring the biological, intellectual, emotional and social well-being of schoolchildren, through integral actions of health promotion with the educational community and its environment, promoting the development human and sustainable.”

Through the Diplomado, we will present monthly in-service training for teachers on topics such as nutrition, physical activity, emotional/mental well-being, anti-bullying, environmental health, etc. We had such a large enrollment that we created two groups and there were still teachers who had to be turned away.

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Photo below:  Our first guest speaker gave a great talk on nutrition.

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Photo below:  The coordinators

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When the weekend arrived, I celebrated a significant birthday. When asked my age I answered, “Bastante,” which can mean either enough or a lot. I’ve always enjoyed saying my age but now I’ve decided to count it backward. 😌 Actually, I don’t usually celebrate my birthday but this year I made it clear to my friends, It’s Happening. I’m learning how to be good to myself. Photo below: I took a photo of my friends and English class students at the birthday party.

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We celebrated at our English class and a few close friends joined us. Our host, Griselda, lit a candle that shot upwards like fireworks. Before cutting the cake, the celebrant is supposed to take a bite directly from the cake. But as soon as I leaned over to gingerly bite into the cake, dear sweet, petite Micaela, shoved my head as hard as she could! Everyone burst into laughter and I laughed too, even though I was shocked by the horror of having my face imprinted on the cake. Yuck!

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One of my friends said, “Let’s go around the circle and say what we like about Eloisa.” I could’ve kicked her, I was so embarrassed. But instead, I decided to stay calm and allow the compliments to flow. What ensued was a very tender sharing that surprised me. How each person expressed themselves helped us all get to know each other on a deeper level. After each testimony I asked the speaker to choose one word they had spoken, to add to our weekly English vocabulary list and we cracked jokes about what word to suggest. Miho, the JICA Volunteer, spoke in Japanese and Evelyn spoke in K’iche. It was quite moving.

The next night we had dinner hosted by our friend, Sonia, at her home. We sang and danced to music videos.

One of my Peace Corps friends came to visit and joined in the birthday fun. Sabrina and I are always saying how lucky we are to live here so it was nice that our friend, also fell in love with this town and its beautiful people. We introduced her to our friend, Petro, who mesmerized us with her stories.

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Petro gave us each crystals that she’d found in a river long ago. I was also able to be fitted for a new huipile which I ordered from her.

Before my friend returned to her site in northern Quiché, we took time for a walk in the hills above town. Photo below:  The winding road in the distance leads to my neighborhood. As I look at the photo, I am reminded of the hills and canyons of San Diego. #ilovemytown

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