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VanWyk, Amanda (2000)

¡No puedo creer que hace seis años que me gradué de Calvin! Trabajé como maestra de Español (e inglés un poco) en Holland Christian HS seis años y ahora estoy estudiando en Madrid. Soy estudiante de Middlebury College y espero cumplir mi maestría en español este año. En septiembre de 2007 pienso regresar a HC y seguir enseñando ya que me encanta enseñar. Si quieren estar en contacto conmigo, aquí tienen mi dirección:

Miga, Matthew (2004)

(Submitted 9/28/2006)

Ahora enseño español y francés a los estudiantes del sexto grado en el distrito donde me gradué. Es mi primer año en este puesto; hay muchismas dificultades, pero sobrevivo. Y ahora estoy con mi familia y amigos en Livonia, MI (que es mejor que Pellston, MI).

Gundlach Yates, Suzy (2006)

(Submitted 9/26/2006)

This past summer I married the love of my life and my best friend David Yates. We had a beautiful wedding and Katherine Slotsema ('06 grad)sang. Then we honeymooned in Keystone, Colorado - an absolutely beautiful place! Also, I was hired by Grand Blanc Schools in Southeastern Michigan to teach elementary Spanish (FLES program). Right now I am three weeks into it and I absolutely love it! I teach 3rd-5th graders each for 25 minutes every day between three schools. Any other FLES teachers out there, I would love to hear your ideas and insights :) Although I am always on my feet and running from place to place, I am doing what I enjoy more than anything else. However, I really miss Calvin and especially my Honduras '04 group muchisimo! Feel free to contact me at my new email address:

Huyser Honig, Abram

(Submitted 9/12/2006)

I have been living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for most of the last two years,
although I've made quite a few visits back to the US in that time. Currently
I am working as communications coordinator for the Association for a More
Just Society <> (AJS), a Christian, Honduran NGO
that concentrates on helping poor Hondurans gain access to land, labor
rights, and legal and psychological services. I live with an awesome
Honduran family in Nueva Suyapa, a nieghborhood on the outskirts of town
that is economically poor but in so many other ways rich. One of the best
things about living in Nueva Suyapa is that I learn a lot of
"caliche"--Honduran slang.

Besides working for AJS I go to Nueva Suyapa Christian Reformed Church,
where I have been known to dress up as a clown for special events, and I
lead a Bible study and soccer-playing group with some neighbor kids who are
generally good-natured but like chucking rocks at each other and stealing
squashes and avocados from peoples' yards. I plan live in the US again
sometime, but for now enjoy being a "catracho."

McPheeters, Scott (2005)

(Submitted 9/10/2006)

I wish that I could report that my spanish major from Calvin has been used effectively and often since graduation in 2005, but I must sadly admit that I never use my spanish except for the occasional "Que pasa tio?" when I e-mail my good friend and peace corps volunteer Matt Ferner in the Dominican Republic. Upon graduating, I married Heidi Kage and we traveled across the country for a 6 week road trip that took us through Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and many more great states.

After our traveling adventures came to a close in late summer we moved to St. Louis Missouri which is where we have been for the past year. I accepted a position with the financial services firm Edward Jones. It is a training program where I rotate through several of their home office departments with the goal of taking over one of the 10,000 some branches we have in the United States (They're everywhere!). At that point I will be an "investment representative" for the company which basically means I will offer advice for clients' financial situations and offer a wide array of investment products to meet their goals. I could not be any happier about the work that I am doing and the company that I am working for.

One of the funny things about accepting this position was that it gave Heidi and I about a year and half to be away from home and think about where we would settle down after our time in St. Louis. We were originally thinking about the west (Denver, Seattle, Portland), but now we find ourselves leaning towards Grand Rapids! Both of our families live in Flint, MI and we find it harder everyday to be away from them. So we may be around the Calvin campus again in a short period of time.

For those of you that may know my wife Heidi, it took her awhile to find a job when we moved to Missouri but she has been working for the United Way of greater St. Louis for about 9 months now. Believe it or not, but St. Louis is actually one of the largest United Way offices in the country in terms of area served and dollars raised in the annual campaign. She is doing "research" work for the non-profit which can really be translated into whatever needs to get done will land on her desk. I am sure there are many more things that we could write about but I will keep it to a minimum. I hope that everyone is doing well and that they are able to use their spanish more than I.

Dorn, Matt (1993)

(Submitted 9/8/2006)

I was a Spanish minor (graduated 1993). Imanaged to gain fluency anyway (although several years later) by living in Argentina for the last few years. I am currently getting a master's degree in International Studies from the Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires.

Scheeres, Julia (1990)

(Submitted 9/8/2006)

I had my first baby August, 31, her name is Tessa Liberty Rose-Scheeres. Also, the paperback of my memoir, Jesus Land, is coming out October 3. It's about growing up in a fundamentalist Christian household in Indiana and being sent to a reform school in the Dominican Republic with my
brother as a teenager.

Whitcomb Jesse, Hillary (2000)

(Submitted 9/7/2006)

After a few years of moving around Michigan chasing my husband's job (he's a newspaper reporter and I was, too, as well as a magazine editor), we're settled in Ypsilanti Township and loving the area. I'm starting a freelance editing-and-writing business and will be creating a website very soon. It'll be a big change to work from home, but I'm much less likely to run out of hot tea or clean mugs for it here.

Van Dyke, David (2002)

(Submitted 9/5/2006)

I graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in May and am
now in my first year of residency in Internal Medicine at Hennepin County
Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN. As a safety-net hospital HCMC provides
care to the growing immigrant and refugee population in the Twin Cities area
and I have frequent opportunity to utilize the Spanish skills that I learned
at Calvin. If only I had also managed to learn Somali, Oromo, Hmong,
Vietnamese and Russian! I am taking part in a "Global Health Pathway" and
will graduate from residency with a certificate in Tropical and Travel
Medicine. I am working with a fun group of people and am enjoying work so
far in spite of the long hours. Christie (formerly Christie Burgers '03),
my wife of two years, is starting as a pharmacist at the University of
Minnesota Medical Center and is focusing on pediatric pharmacy.

Kleinsasser, Allison

(Submitted 9/5/2006)

Tengo mucha nostalgia para Calvin, especialmente que un grupo esta en Honduras con profe Leder tambien. Extrano esos dias de la universidad tanto! Estoy en Ontario, California ensenando el espanol a los grados K-8 en una escuela cristiana se llama Ontario Christian School. Para la escuela primaria, voy a cada clase K-6 una vez cada semana, con mi carrito de espanol (tiene la
bandera de espana y unos decoraciones como chilis y cosas asi). Para los
estudiantes en grados 7 y 8, tengo ellos dos veces cada semana, los en grado
7 un semestre, y los en grado 8 otro semestre. Hoy fue nuestra primer dia
de la escuela, pero solo fue un dia medio, y fue mas para que los padres y
sus hijos pudieran ver sus maestros este ano. Yo, como no tengo un aula
mio, puse mi carrito enfrente de la biblioteca, y hable con los padres que
vinieron a ver mi carrito. Tuve una hoja de papel que explica mi programa,
y mis expectativas para los ninos este ano. Tambien estuve en unos sesiones
con los padres de ninos de la escuela medio (middle school). Despues de mi
primer dia de escuela como maestra, tuve que tomar una siesta larga en
casa! Bueno, es todo para ahora, pero voy a tener mas historias
interesantes en las semanas que vienen.

Slager, Dave (1999)

(Submitted 9/5/2006)

I am presently teaching Spanish 1 and 2 at Ontario Christian High School in Ontario, California. I also teach P.E. I coach boys freshmen basketball and boys varsity volleyball. I am married to Kelli (Holwerda) (Dordt '00).

DeKoter Brom, Lindsay

(Submitted 9/5/2006)

Lindsay DeKoter Brom was married at the end of August and is currently teaching at both East Grand Rapids and Kelloggsville Middle Schools.

VanHeest, Cathy

Submitted: 9/5/2006

I am an old alumna from the semester in Spain program '95 I think? I had majored in business/Spanish minor, and wanted to go into international business. I'm now based in Zurich trying to quickly learn Swiss German. Although some days I wish I had studied German, the time I spent in Denia was invaluable to my success in Switzerland. I'm not afraid to speak imperfectly, I'm confident I could live in foreign land, and I'm having the time of my life. My current employer, ABB Ltd, is impressed by international experiences, and I have even met some Spanish people on my weekend travels. Y despues de algunas cervazas, creo que puedo hablar bastante bien...

Crowe, Sara (2002)

I'm working at a Chrysler site in their fitness center as a Fitness Specialist and also doing personal training on the side. I'm going to Wayne State part-time to get my Masters Degree in Spanish. I have 13 credits left to take. I will be teaching Spanish in the fall to adults who know very little or no Spanish at all at a company called IonBond. They have a partner in Mexico, so employees are required to travel there often. It is really pertinent that they have at least a basic understanding of the language. I will be going to their office 1-2 times per week to teach some executives.

Henrickson, Cory (2000)

I'm living in Oakland, California. I'm teaching and teaching is a mad profession, let me tell you. I'm working at Skyline High School , teaching Spanish 2 and 3 honors in the mediocre district of Oakland. I love the kids (for the most part) it is just soooooo much work. I work at least 60 hours a week, it's quite ridiculous. I haven't figured out if I'm a perfectionist, slower than average or just what. But I slave away. I teach a diverse group of students and they have their quirks and attitudes, believe you me. But I've been told I can be a bit “sassy” as well. I'm picking up on the lingo and once in a while I find myself saying, “Don't you be doin' this or that”. Which makes the few students (who realize that is not how you use the verb to be) laugh. I've accepted being a “hella” or “hecka” -hard teacher and they know I have a compassionate side as well. When the students tell me their stories I am amazed, as I was in El Salvador , but in a different way. It's amazing some of the struggles and trials some have to face and I'm paralyzed by the reality of many. I've managed to build some good relationships with some of the students and they seem to feel safe in my space and that is an honor (although draining at times).

I don't have spare time, so I basically work and go to the gym. That's not entirely true, but that's where I spend 99.9% of my time and energy. Once in a while I make it to the soup kitchen and I hope to visit Death Row, but time and energy are low for the time being.

Over Christmas I went to my second home El Salvador. When I meet Salvadorans I always tell them I am a Salvadoran at heart… and returning only reinforced that. It was awesome seeing familiar faces, eating pupusas , hanging out with the people, seeing the beautiful children and sweating after walking a block, because of the intense heat. I hope to get back there again soon.

Potter Benthem, Susan (2004)

The big news in my life is that I'm getting married to Jared Benthem and that we are moving to Honduras on August 22! We are extremely excited for all of it. Things are a bit stressful since we are planning a wedding and a move, but it's going well. This past year I taught first grade at Calvin Christian Elementary. It was a good year and good experience since I will be teaching first grade at International School in Honduras .

Daining, Michelle (2002)

Estoy enseñando el tercer grado en una clase "bilingüe" en Denver Public Schools. (Denver has a transitional bilingual program and it's called English Language Acquisition -ELA). Este es mi tercer año estar en el distrito y ser maestra. Cada año ha sido diferente porque cada año han cambiado la cantidad de instrucción en inglés que los estudiantes de primer y segundo grado han recibido. Mi primer año enseñé en inglés pero era como una clase de ESL conmigo todo el día. El año pasado era puro inglés con un grupo pequeño en español. Entonces la mayoría podían comunicarse en inglés pero tenían dificultad en la gramática. Este año he enseñado en español casi todo el día. Ha sido un año excelente para mí como he mejorado en el español, pero es más difícil porque a mí parece que mis estudiantes no reciben la ayuda que necesitan en inglés. Así es la vida de los maestros públicos...siempre cambiando. Sin embargo, Denver es un lugar excelente para vivir porque puedo ir a las montañas para descansar los fines de semana.

Van Cleave, Barbara (2003)

Todo está pasando super bien en mi vida. Estoy trabajando para Royal Caribbean Cruise Lineas en Miami, FL...usando mi español cada día. Pasaba dos años en los barcos de crucero en Europa...que experiencia. Mi educación me servio bien allá. Dios me ha bendigo con más cosas que podría soñar...como siempre. Hoy es mi último día si Trainer de Customer Service acá porque vuelvo a los barcos. En la semana que viene mi novio, un argentino, va a venir a visitar a mi familia en Chicago conmigo por 7 días y después iremos a Buenos Aires por 10 días. De allá, iremos a Barcelona por un crucero, de vacación, en Rusia y después volveremos a trabajar por 5 meses en el Mediterráneo. Soy un asistente directora del crucero. Que vida, verdad. Allá los cruceros son la mitad españoles y la mitad americanos. Una mezcla de personajes pero usando mi español cada día. (Llamando un juego de BINGO en español.) Me encanta mi trabajo y voy cada día que despierto si una bendición.

Barbara Van Cleave /Training Specialist / Training Development & Quality Assurance / Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Guest Sales & Services

Rozeboom, Melissa (2004)

Just to keep you posted...My life took a bit of a 180 degree turn when Grand Rapids Christian High had a Spanish position open up. I accepted their offer and taught full time 1st and 2nd year Spanish at GRCHS in 2005-06! All in the Lord's timing, right?

Ubels Renkema, Jennifer (2003)

My husband Seth got a job in Washington , D.C. , so we will be moving. I will be going back to school at Catholic University to get my masters in Social Work. I am excited because for my internship I will be working with the Montgomery County Maryland Office of Outreach doing work with the Hispanic population in the county. The unique thing about the population there is that they are primarily from El Salvador , Guatemala , and Honduras . Talk about a great fit. I am also counting on being able to speak Spanish more often. I think I will need to do a little brushing up though...I might even dust off a few old books. I have gotten a little practice the last two years, but it just isn't what it used to be...

Brewer, Dustin (2003)

As of August 3 rd (2005) I finished my contract at Isahaya East High School in Nagasaki Prefecture Japan where I taught English and many many other things over the past two years. I had to make my decision to stay in Japan or not way back in February. At that time I was 99% certain that I would not stay, and I was ready to move on to the challenge and so I declined the offer for the third year of the contract.

It was funny though, it seemed that immediately after I decided to be done at 2 years my school really became a great place to teach. Maybe it was just me. Maybe I knew that my time was limited and I tried hard everyday after that, or maybe it was the students and the teachers thinking the exact same thing. That I would soon be gone and the opportunities to interact were growing fewer and fewer.

It was in these last few months at my school that I really felt like I had made a difference to the kids. The school itself isn't all too different from my own high school back in Muskegon , Michigan . Fairly small public high school in a rural setting, so maybe that was why it was a good fit for me. Starting in the first part of July I began preparing what would be my final speech at the school. It would be my time to stand up in front of the entire student body, all of the teachers, and say exactly what I wanted to say. I worked really hard on that speech. And thank you to you native Japanese speakers who helped me fine tune it (Japanese particles can be tough).

As I practiced and practiced the speech, I wanted it to have a certain feel. I wanted to leave the kids with an impression. That if you work hard, you can go anywhere and do anything. I worked hard over the two years to really learn Japanese, and Nagasaki-ben (the local dialect) too. Let me be the first to tell you that I am not the world's best Japanese speaker, but as I began the speech just as I had practiced, I could see that my students were really listening to me. As I went on, they continued to listen so intensively that towards the end of the speech I wanted to continue speaking. Ad lib a few more lines. I felt the wind at my back, but I decided to let it be. I could see in their faces; the students understood exactly what I was saying. Hard work does pay off, and as I walked off the stage (bouquet of flowers in hand) I felt a sense of closure. Closure in the sense

that my work was done at Isahaya East High School . That I left something behind, and just as important that those students and teachers would remain with me forever too.

It was a great 2 years, but I move on to the next challenge. Presently I am doing some traveling in China . Last night I took the overnight train from Shanghai to Beijing , so coupling that with 2 years of living in Japan ; I apologize for my mistakes in English :) In two days I am going to go back to Japan to say goodbye to a few friends, and go to one last wedding. Then I will go to

L.A. for a few weeks to do some sightseeing before I go back to Michigan on September 20th. From there I am still in the clouds as to what exactly I will do, but like I said, 'if you work hard, you can go anywhere and do anything.' I hope to catch up with all of you really soon, and for those of you I leave behind take care and Gambaramba !!

Jelsema, Jodilyn (2004)

I just wanted to let you know that I was accepted to Wayne State University School of Medicine. Since I graduated in May 2004, I worked as a certified nurse aide at Spectrum Health's Kent Community Campus. I reapplied to schools in early June of 2004, had 4 interviews and was waitlisted at all 4 schools. I had been studying for the GRE in order to apply to graduate programs and "beef up" my resume for future med school success. I got a call from Wayne on June 3, 2005 offering me a place this fall. I have enjoyed the transition back into school (all the while trying not to get too overwhelmed).

Thank you for your support and encouragement throughout my undergraduatepremedical education at Calvin. I feel very fortunate to be in my position and am grateful to Calvin's faculty for having prepared me for this experience. I have joined Amigos Medicos, a group that promotes bilingualism in medicine and outreach in underserved Hispanic communities. I feel that my Spanish degree will be of some benefit in the metro Detroit area (which has a large Hispanic population). Thank you so much for your support and encouragement; it has been truly appreciated.

Swier, Lisa (2004)

I have moved on in my career. I am now the marketing manager for a small, family-owned real estate company called KJR Real Estate, Inc. My fiance, Kris Rewa, is part owner.

Herrmann, Julie (2005)

I love my work here. I am working with foreign students who are all either graduate or teaching assistants who failed a spoken English test. My job is to assess their speech and then, based on their articulation errors, teach them correct English pronunciation. We're also working on grammar, intonation, semantics, and all the things we covered in your class, but in English. It's very exciting work. Most of my clients are Chinese, but I do have one from Spain and one from Romania.

Whitney, Stephanie (2000)

Some of you know that I have been interested and pursuing a career as a flight attendant for the last few months. Recently, Continental Airlines flew me out to Newark NJ for an interview. It was a very fun and exciting day from start to finish, and, to my surprise, they offered me a spot in the flight attendant training course. That means that if I pass the four and a half week course in Houston, (accommodations paid by Continental), I have a job as a flight attendant!!! I am required to move to my base, which is in Newark , NJ , from which you can see the NYC skyline!! I begin training on the 10th of October. I am so very very excited!!! For those of you who have been praying for me and my job situation, thank you!! I am, of course, sad most of to leave my family and friends in the Detroit area. I'm already over the fact (I think) that I will most likely be selling my house--know anyone who wants a starter in Livonia ?

See My Photos (you must have a Yahoo! ID to view)

Plantenga, Derek (2002)

I graduated in 2002, and after marrying my beautiful wife, Claire, and taking a honeymoon to Costa Rica, we moved down to sunny San Antonio, Texas. I attended Our Lady of the Lake University and obtained a Masters in Social Work (MSW). I now work as a school social worker at an elementary school in the heart of San Antonio 's West Side . The West Side is an area known for being economically depressed, but also rich in Hispanic culture. My school, De Zavala, is literally 99.9% Hispanic and one-third of the students are monolingual Spanish-speakers. The Spanish language skills that I learned at Calvin combined with my Social Work training have provided me with the opportunity to effectively serve the students and families of my school in English and in Spanish.

I am encouraged to know that Calvin's Spanish Department seems to be placing an increasing emphasis on integrating service into the Spanish program. It's a great opportunity for Calvin students to make a difference in their community and to learn at the same time. Keep up the good work!

Birdsall, Rachel (2005)

Well, I'm in my last year of undergrad here in Boston . I can't believe how fast it has gone by, but it has been a lot of fun. I definitely miss taking Spanish classes, but this summer I lived in Miami and worked at a hospital. And, as you can imagine, about 75% of the patients spoke only Spanish, so I got a lot of practice. I am in the process of applying to grad schools for Speech Pathology.

Trook, Luther (2003)

La compañía para la que trabajo se llama TISCAL INTERNATIONAL y se especializa en la importación y exportación de cualquier producto de que puedes pensar. Es muy interesante y la experiencia me ha dado muchas ideas sobre empezar mi propio negocio al regresar a los EE. UU., pero veremos. Estaré aquí hasta el fin de abril o el principio de mayo y después de eso, todavía no sé que voy a hacer, donde voy a vivir, etc.? Esperaba que Dios me ayudara con eso.

Pero ahora trabajo para esta empresa y trato de vender diferentes cosas al extranjero. Hasta ahora no he tenido mucho éxito pero bueno, por lo menos aprendo mucho mientras estar aquí. Aparte de eso, la vida aquí me parece muy similar a España, pero un poco más económico.

Tal vez algún día Calvin tendrá un programa aquí. Creo que los estudiantes lo amarían. La única gran diferencia entre lo que aprendí en Calvin y aquí es el voseo. Todavía no lo uso...pero por lo menos los argentinos me entienden.

Ashby, Ben (2004)

Married life is going well. I am teaching 4th and 5th grade Spanish at Van Raalte-Holland Public Schools. It is going well. Holland has put a lot of work into this program. We had two weeks of training this past summer with the president of ACTFL. Holland also sent us to attend the ACTFL convention in Baltimore . I am not sure how they did these things when they are supposedly broke- but who knows.

The Grand Rapids Press came to my classroom the other day and did a story about our Spanish program. Read it here.

Harkema, Leslie (2005)

Te debo una nota de gracias por sugerir que yo mande mis poemas a la revista "El Cid," porque uno de ellos se ha aceptado. No es "Querer decir" [printed last year in Huellas ] sino otro que escribí sobre la experiencia de estar en Madrid poco antes de los atentados. Se llama "marzo picassiano," y aparecerá esta primavera. Les dije que gradué de Calvin, pero no sé cual nombre de universidad será impreso. A poem of mine appears in this year's issue of "El Cid," the publication of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, and I thought I would pass it along to you. You can read it here (Spring 2006 page x)

**You can read more of Leslie's writing in Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought Leslie Harkema / Editorial Assistant, Literary Imagination

Kok, J.P. (1989 / 1994)

And yes I still use my Spanish from time to time, although more often I use "Spanglish"--I'm in southern California now, and in addition to doing ministry and having been to seminary I also teach (periodically). I taught full-time school for two years --although I did not teach Spanish--in fact I had an English/Education major coming out of Calvin in '94 (after originally graduating in '89 with a psychology degree); and the high school at which I taught was 90% Latino, many of them first generation immigrants. So yes, I did use Spanish.

Today, while going through seminary I substitute taught (and still do periodically although less) and sometimes speak Spanish in the classroom, although it is not expected of me (as one might do, or try to do, to be culturally polite when visiting another country). I also was in Costa Rica for a year (1991) and used my Spanish there as well.

Vander Zwaag , Wendy (2005)

Me aceptaron al programa de Español en Bowling Green State University. They offered me a tuition waver, a stipend, and an assistantship!

Iverson, Aaron (2005)

Well, yesterday I returned from spending about 50 days in rural Amazonia among mestizo and native Urarina communities--some 2 days travel by boat from the nearest large city. All in all quite a fascinating experience and under God's care everything went very well and not even a pair of snakebites was experienced (though many-a-pair of insect bites was not avoided). It's actually quite nice now to not have the constant attack of mosquitoes and black flies. But the noise and bustling of the city (Iquitos) is quite a change from the tranquility in electricity-absent small villages.

So I spent the first 3 weeks with the Peruvian NGO, Centro para el Desarrollo para el indígena amazónico (center for the development of the Amazonian indigenous person). During this time I was able to gain very useful experience in the villages with professionals that work with encouraging locally directed sustainable forest management. Then I was on my own...I spent about 2 weeks in both a mestizo community and an Urarina community. In both places I was so humbled by the generosity and hospitality of people that have so little (maybe a radio or a canoe would be their only significant possession) but share so much. I was worried if my food supplies would last past a week...but all in all I only had to cook a couple of times...the rest I was invited to. This leads to another topic: the delicacies of the Amazon---choosing between 4 types of monkey, sloth, crocodile, parrot, peccary, piranha, etc, I'd have to say my favorite was parrot (sorry for all you bird lovers---but parrots are major pests down here and are more common than blackbirds back home). My study was looking at the diversity of foods eaten and diversity of plants cultivated in home gardens and farm fields of families in the communities. I want to compare this to the health of the families and see if there is a correlation between family health and diversity of plants/foods. I'll be heading back to these communities in May to finish my work.

In all I am very thankful for being able to establish meaningful relationships with the people---who live a life so different than that which I am used to. I learned so much from them. What impressed me most is their lack of dependency on the "outside" world. apart from batteries for flashlights, clothes, shotgun shells and a few other items (eg machete), they virtually live directly from the land. They're the most innovative people I've met--hunting for their meat, growing their staples, deriving all housing and construction supplies from the forest. In their houses not even a nail was needed---everything tied by vines. And so appropriate is their housing in the hot climate...the architecture of the houses is superior to any modern construction to deal with the heat, rain, etc.

Another focus of my study is comparing the two communities of different cultures. One major difference is that the mestizo community is more linked to the market, which implies more farmland. I was particularly fascinated by the level of community in the communities...where communal work is often essential to get large jobs done. I participated in one day of communal work (termed "minga")--hauling palm leaves to construct a house rooftop. I was pretty worthless at the task but at least was able to haul a pair of leaves out of water-logged jungle swamps. Of course the local staple drink of fermented yuca (cassava) called masato is an essential. By my calculations, during the day each participant consumed an average of 3-4 gallons of this drink. Wow, seems humanly impossible.

Well, this is quite long already so I'll let it be for now. Just want to say how much froggin' water there is down here...the Amazon River is immense...and the daily downpours affirm the name of "rainforest". please pray for communities here that are currently inundated to the point that their crops will rot and food will be a serious issue. Today there were presidential elections in Peru , but looks like a second round will be necessary. Please join me in praying for a president that can make positive changes in this country where so many people struggle to get by.

Peace to all, Your canu amio (friend in Urarina)

Ferner, Matt (2004)

¿Cómo están ustedes? Yo he pensando mucho en ustedes y todo el departamento de Español en estas ultimas días y yo querría mandar mis recuerdos a ustedes. Estoy aquí en un pueblecito que se llama Pedro Sánchez en el parte este de la Republica Dominicana trabajando con El Cuerpo de Paz (Peace Corps). Tengo casi un año aquí en el país y siete meses en mi comunidad. ¡Hasta ahora todo ha sido una experiencia increíble! Pasé los primeros meses acostumbrándome al español Dominicano y todos sus Dominicanismos (que son muchísimos). Y después de que me mudé para Pedro Sánchez tenía que acostumbrarme al acento de algunas personas del campo (que no aprendí en español 301) y con que todavía tengo dificultades. Pero creo que mi español ha mejorado mucho. ¡Por fin estoy usando todos los tiempos verbales que me enseñaron en 301!

Mis actividades son muy variadas aquí. Enseño una clase de ingles con un muchacho que esta un poco más avanzado y aparte de esto con él estamos leyendo "Blue Like Jazz" que es un libro simple y muy entendible. Una de las metas de mi sector es formar un grupo juvenil para darles la oportunidad de participar en proyectos comunitarias y poco a poco estamos haciendo eso. Están aprendiendo de temas medioambientales y sembramos muchos árboles. Aunque casi nadie jugaba fútbol en la RD traje mi amor de este juego y hemos formado un equipito de muchachos y ahora ellos están muy emocionados con el fútbol. Quieren practicar todo los días y cuando no están practicando están en mi casa jugando con la bola.

¡La comunidad en cual vivo es increíble! La gente que me ha aceptado en su comunidad y tengo muchos amigos aunque son mucho más menores o más mayores. Eso es porque los jóvenes que tienen 20 y pico años tienen que irse a buscar trabajo, muchas veces en las áreas turísticas como Punta Cana o Bavaro, o van a la capital a estudiar. También la gente Dominicana es muy generosa y tiene la costumbre de brindar comida o juegos o lo que sea cada vez que alguien entra en sus casas. Aunque muchas son pobres ellos dan más que nosotros en "Nueva Yol." Me han enseñado a bailar bachata y un poco de merengue y jugar dominós que es el segundo juego más importante a los dominicanos atrás del béisbol. Ahora estamos en la temporada de los mangos y todos los árboles están lleno de mangos grandísimos y tan dulces. Todas las semanas voy con un grupo de amigos a las lomas a buscar mangos y sentarnos allá debajo de los árboles hasta que nuestros estómagos están lleno de mago. ¡Me encanta la fruta aquí como piña, chinola, cereza, cocos, guanábana, y guineos o bananas y yo puedo comer fruta tres veces al día y estar muy contenta!

Zandstra, Anita (1999)

I am currently living in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. What brings me to Bolivia? A love of South America and the opportunity to combine my interests in literacy and community development as a "popular libraries educator and network organizer" with the Mennonite Central Committee. I look forward to receiving God's gifts of strength, wisdom, and patience (especially with myself) as I begin this chapter of my life. Read about my experiences at .

VanderWoude, David (2003 )

Dave now lives in Bogota Colombia and urges all his fellow alumns to travel to Colombia to expirience its beauty. Check out News from Colombia here.


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