Our first week in Beja has concluded, and what a wonderful week it was!
I’ve been asked many times about the kind of person who does a Global Volunteer project, so here’s a brief description of the 10 fantastic people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working, complete with a visual.
Cisco (front row) is the first Australian Global Volunteer I’ve ever encountered. (He could possibly be the first Australian in Global Volunteer’s history). We all LOVE this extremely creative and talented guy. A graphic art designer by training, he has done so many other things, it is hard to believe he is only 31 years old. I suspect his Beja students are most impressed by his disc jockey experience, but I love hearing about the awards he won while working on a Disney cruise ship. He is “bloody ripper”. (Yes, Cisco is teaching me to speak Aussie).
Also in the front row is our fearless leader, Joe. It feels like EVERYBODY in Beja knows Joe. Coming here for ten years, leading two teams per year (February and September), Joe knows all of the assignments, and has done an amazing job matching us up so everyone is happy.
Joe has sampled just about every eating establishment in the area, so we are enjoying a wide variety of delicious cuisines.
Weekends are usually free time, however Joe very graciously organized a guided tour of Beja on Saturday morning, followed by an excursion to the Serpa cheese festival in the afternoon. Sunday we spent the day visiting the historic town of Evora.
My dear friend Jeanne is in row 2. Jeanne has decades of middle school experience, so she was paired with Heidi ( back row), who is a first time volunteer. Any trip with Jeanne is guaranteed to be fun. Her positive outlook on life is the gift that keeps on giving.
Next to Jeanne is Cindy, from Connecticut. She is a retired Spanish teacher, who has spent last week working in a variety of schools with Dale (last row, Heidi’s husband). Cindy has done a number of GV trips, and is returning to Queretaro, Mexico this October. For those of you who wonder if you could volunteer as a single woman, Cindy is your role model.
Laurie is between Cindy and me. Jeanne, Laurie and I all met in St. Lucia in 2012. Laurie and I work “the night shift” at the University; I am so very blessed to have her as my teammate. (Thanks to Jeanne for recruiting her!)
Laurie recently retired from her career as an oncology nurse. Maybe that is why she is so very observant. She notices EVERYTHING, which is great for me, because “oblivious” is my middle name. Her next adventure will be relocating from Denver to San Francisco when she returns to the USA.
Behind us are Jim and Linda, the other married couple in our group. Linda is a skilled photographer, an excellent athlete, an entrepreneur, among other things. Jim is a former US Marine, Pinkerton detective, retired international real estate guy and full time charmer. He is also hilarious.
Sherry is right behind Jim. She has also done numerous GV projects. Luckily for Laurie and me, her 2017 GV assignment in Beja was teaching at the University. Her experience went a LOOONG way toward lowering our anxiety. Her enthusiasm and energy was appreciated by all.
Like Cisco, Dale and Heidi are first time volunteers. Many years ago, Dale was a Peace Corp Volunteer in Columbia, so like Cindy, he speaks Spanish (plus a little Portuguese.) He and Cindy probably have the most diverse assignment. In addition to teaching at two middle schools, they also taught in the prison.
Heidi is the other retired nurse in our group. She and Dale are from Minnesota, and radiate that niceness Midwesterners are known for. She and her teammate, Jeannie are up early in the morning, working with two teachers at a middle school.
Sherry, Jim and Linda volunteered for one week, so they left us on Saturday morning. We are already missing them!
As you can see from the above photo, Global Volunteers come in all ages. These two guys have been so much FUN!
We all gather every night at 8 PM to share our stories, drink a little wine, and get ready to venture out for a fabulous dinner. Restaurants don’t open till late, here in Beja. Because our schedules were so varied and we were all working at different schools, the evening was the only time we were guaranteed to all be together.
Family and friends—I’m LOVING this assignment, the city, my students, my team, my leader…life is great!
WordPress is acting funky, so I’m going to end this before it does something strange again that will cause me to use words I would never teach my students.