Hello from Cusco!
We’re embarking now on our third month here as GirlSportWorks project managers. During our time here thus far, we’ve rotated through baseball, kickball and soccer with our schools. It’s exciting to already witness girls who were at first timid volunteer themselves as leaders in a number of ways in our class. Most girls are enthusiastic only about playing volleyball, as this is stereotypically a girls’ sport here in Cusco. Upon arrival to class this past Tuesday, however, we were delighted to find a class begging to play soccer. This is gratifying, since as we understand the norms, soccer is principally a boys’ sport. Another fun aspect of class has been the neighborhood onlookers who watch our classes, often with interest and even cheers.
Apart from the sports curriculum, we’ve been placing an additional emphasis on team-building and increased collaboration among the girls. One especially successful game we used this week is called Hot Lava. In this game each team is given a certain number of items such as bases, jerseys or Frisbees that they must use to cross a given distance. As there are fewer items than girls in each team, the girls must work together to form a strategy for how they will cross the distance without touching the “lava,” or surrounding ground, with any body part. In all of our schools, the girls were somewhat frustrated at first, but nevertheless we held off on giving hints. Soon a few leaders emerged who figured out a good strategy that they used to direct the groups across the field. By the time one team won, they were all shouting “de Nuevo!” and so we played a few more rounds, making the task more difficult by taking away items and making a zig-zag route. The girls were proud that they’d worked through their frustration and were able to accomplish this task.
Also to promote leadership, collaboration and good behavior among the girls, we’ve introduced a new element to the class. This is a stuffed rabbit that we call the “coneja colaboradora,” or “cooperative rabbit.” We present it at the end of each class to one girl whom we think not only listened during explanations and demonstrated good sportsmanship, but also played with great enthusiasm and effort. The girls have started to look forward to the awarding of the rabbit, and appear to highly esteem this symbol of good behavior.
This September we took all three Cusco city schools on field trips to the pool. For many girls, this was their first trip to the pool, and most who had been before had gone with GSW. Nevertheless it was a real treat for everyone. The girls loved splashing around, playing games like Marco Polo, and learning how to blow bubbles and kick. The hot showers which followed were also special, as most do not have this luxury at home. We finished off the excursion with a nutritious snack of bananas and whole wheat crackers. We were lucky enough to have a number of moms accompany each of our trips. Some of them swam and others acted as lifeguards. We are looking forward to more field trips in October and November, such as to the nearby Sacsayhuaman ruins and other parks.
Check back soon for more updates from Cusco!
Kim and Lauren