Saludos desde Cusco!
Caroline and I have had a surprisingly smooth first week of classes! We made it into each school to formally reintroduce the Chicas Dinámicas program in a classroom setting and to jump right into sports class. While we are still mastering our schedule, the structure of a typical Chicas Dinámicas class, and (for me in particular) speaking Spanish, the girls have been awesome in helping us make the transition. As Caroline said, she’s not always a fan of the suck-ups, but man is it helpful to have them around! At one of our schools, Virgen, we were a little nervous going into class because they are our youngest group. To our surprise the time flew by, and we had a great time! There was always someone telling her teammates to be quiet and pay attention while the profes were talking or explaining the drill to a fellow teammate that couldn’t understand my broken Spanish. It is clear that Ali and Carly set up a strong foundation and a structure that the girls want to continue to follow!
Yesterday Caroline and I went to another one of our schools, Santoni, and presented the program in nine classes, talking to more than 100 kids. This was a daunting task that we were quite nervous for… but once again the kids proved us wrong, and it was generally smooth sailing at Santoni! While not all nine classes were perfect angels, we were surprised at the number of classes that were quiet and listened attentively. A lot of the girls remembered us from their last week of classes with Carly and Ali. One class, we were even greeted at the door with big hugs and kisses from some of the dedicated Chicas Dinámicas. It felt good to know that they remembered and were excited to see us.
One challenge we faced in the classroom when reintroducing Chicas Dinámicas is that we presented to the whole class including both boys and girls. In every single class there was always one boy asking where is the Chicos Dinámicos program and why we don’t include boys. While is it never fun to feel like you’re excluding someone, I keep having to remind myself that our job here is not to exclude the chicos, but to create a safe space for the chicas and to share with them what sports did for us as young girls. Our work here became even more apparent to me when we were on the bus a few days ago. We were stopped right next to a big, beautiful green soccer field. There were probably over 100 kids separated into small group, each with their own coach facilitating the drill and encouraging them to do better. I scanned the field and confirmed that it was indeed a field full of boys. No girls in sight. While these moments remind me of the social constraints often confining girls, these are also the moments that inspire me most. I feel fortunate that I am in a position that allows me to focus my time in a way that I find productive and essential to engaging constructive change in these chicas’ lives.
Until next time,
A picture of the younger Mantay girls lined up to do basketball drills during our first solo class