About Me

My name is Molly Clesen and I currently work as a teacher of students with visual impairments in Springfield Public Schools. I interned for 5 weeks this summer with the Manuela Gandarillas Center for the Blind in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This was an opportunity to empower and contribute to an amazing program in this local community by working with the clients to help them complete tasks independently, teaching lessons on writing, Braille, and other techniques, and participating in games and exercises to stimulate other senses. My goal has been to keep all supporters informed with up to date information about my fundraising efforts and experiences abroad. Even though I have returned, the center for the blind continues to need support. If you would like to donate to a very worthwhile cause, please click on the "Donate" button below. Thank you and any support you can provide is very appreciated. --Molly

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

I want to apologize to all the people who read my blog...it has been very disjointed and scattered (or so I feel).  This is because I typically only have about 20 minutes at the Internet Cafe to write so I am not able to write as much or as clearly as I typically would.  I´ll be able to fix and add a lot more when I return to the States so please keep following!  I plan to update my blog with information about resources regarding Spanish language Braille and the correspondance I plan to maintain with Manuela Gandarillas.

Now for the interesting stuff...
As many of you know, I celebrated my 27th birthday yesterday in Cochabamba.  It was definitely very memorable.  It started off with Katrina leaving her camera on the public taxi, her debit card not working, and neither of us had clean clothes because the laundromat closed early the night before.  When we arrived in the morning a told Sonia (the in house dentist) of our sad tale, she decided it would be a good idea to create a cuento (story) using pictures about the sad life of Katrina and I in Bolivia.  Please stay tuned for pictures when I return to the US.  It was HILARIOUS.  After our arrival, we immediately went to the orientation and mobility classroom to practice singing for this Saturday.  Right before we broke for lunch, the staff and students sang Happy Birthday to me in English AND Spanish.  It was awesome!  Then they all bum rushed me with hugs and well wishes.  I also met a very nice young lady from Japan, Anan is her name, and she speaks very little English and no Spanish.  She was there to learn about the center for the blind and also to study music with Nico.  It ended up that I have been translating between her and the Spanish speakers, which has led me to wonder if becoming a translator is something that I would like to work toward...

In the evening, Katrina and I went to dinner at Sonia´s house with the majority of the staff at MG.  We ate, we danced, and we sang, A LOT.  It was a blast!  Apparently people here eat tons when celebrating birthdays.  We had chicken, pork, rice, twice baked potatoes, vegetables, flan, and a cake also!  The food was amazing (as has been all of the delicious food we´ve gotten to try here) and the company was too. 

Just like my blog has illustrated, every day has been completely different.  Today I had the opportunity to work with the orienation and mobility instructor, Paola.  She is 28 and a ball of fire.  I really enjoy spending with her :)  We worked a lot on separating small objects and distinguishing textures because one student has issues with both fine and gross motor activities.  We also worked on marching in step and practiced the dance for the August 5th celebration at the center.  One of the activities that I thought was incredibly interesting was that Paola rolled the student with fine and gross motor issues into a bed and had her push and pull to work her way out of it to strengthen her muscles.  I was the one holding the poor kid down and I knew that if I was in the States, someone would´ve called Child Protective Services.  It´s amazing how things are different south of the equator.  Anyway, after our daily cocoa break, students from a local public school came to check out the rehab center, played music for the students, and shared a treat.  It was great because the MG students also were able to sing one of the songs that Nico wrote that talks about seeing with the eyes of their souls.  It´s really beautiful. 

Tonight we´re going to meet with the director of Sustainable Bolivia to discuss the time she spent in the Dominican Republic in the Peace Corps and also (hopefully) find out if we won the mini-grant that we applied for for MG.  The idea was to use the money to host a Capacities Clinic, where public school teachers would come to the rehab center to be taught by the staff and students about visual impairments and how they can best serve them in the public schools.  We were hoping that by making it free, more people would be likely to come.  That´s all for now!

¡Felicidades todos!

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