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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Friday, July 22, 2011

Integracion Escolar


This entire week we've been working diligently with the professors of school integration.  This has included transcribing Braille in Grade 2 in Spanish, teaching students how to use an abacus, and laying down the smack on kids that get out of line (KIDDING!).  The kids are a blast; they're friendly and sweet and we feel part of the MG family.  The staff are excited (as are we) to show us their resources and daily activities.  We've played goal ball, watched a socio-drama presented to the students' families about visual impairments and the need for fostering independence, and discussed upcoming festivities in the coming weeks.  Yesterday we were able to enter the public schools and see how the students are integrated into the regular education classroom.  The students looked at us like we were either white devils or white angels, touching our hair and complimenting us on our blue eyes.  They were so adorable and well mannered, rising from their chairs to say "Good Afternoon" and "good bye" when we left.  The students who are served at MG are integrated into the classrooms with almost no assistance from the itinerant teacher.  If something needs to be read or transcribed in print, then the teacher is there to help.  Otherwise, she pokes her head in to make sure everything is okay and then is off to the next classroom.  It is during the morning hours when students receive the bulk of the support/instruction from the specialists at MG.

Today we spent the majority of the day meeting with the director, Nico, to talk to him about some ideas we had for grant opportunities and how we can support MG after we return to the US.  One idea is that we would like to finance the opening of a store that sells products that the students and staff make at MG during their manual skills class.  They first have to create an inventory of products and then work with students on money and social skills.  This would be a student/staff run endeavor and it is hoped, would help earn money to create/support additional programs at the center for the blind.  In addition to this, we have also applied for a grant (Please pray that we get it!) to hold a "Capacities Clinic" that would bring as many staff as possible from the public schools to the MGCB for a one day seminar/practical experience with working with people with visual impairments.  Students and staff alike would teach the attendees how to cook, read braille, and travel while under blindfold.  It is meant to help open the eyes of the professionals who will work with the students with visual impairments so they can better assist them in the regular education classroom. As usual, time is flying, but we are creating lasting relationships with the people who live and work here and I hope to return in the future.

It's hard to believe that we only have one more week, but we are trying to make the most of it.  Tomorrow, I'll be spending time with a friend from Luxembourg who leaves on Monday and celebrating another friend's birthday.  It's really interesting how many volunteers travel here from the US and across the globe.  We also plan to see the sites of  Cochabamba before our last weekend here.

And I can't forget, next weekend, July 30, we'll be hitting the recording studio with the students and staff to record a song that Nico and Cristian wrote called Los Derechos Humanos (Human Rights), that will be played during their annual educational fair in September when representatives of blind centers across Bolivia come to share information.

That's all for now, peace and chicken grease!


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