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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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Los cerros

Hola gente!

Greetings from Cochabamba.  So life has been pretty interesting since we have spoken last.  We have officially worked at MG for over 1 week and still awaiting the arrival of the students after their "winter" vacation.  I am the tannest I have ever been in the winter time here in bolivia.  Haha.  Katrina and I have thrown ourselves into our work and after our day of work on the guide, we spoke with Armando and Mari about how we can implement this guide and make it appropriate for Manuela Gandarillas.  This was very difficult because we tried to understand and express our ideas in Spanish but this did not always work as effectively as we would have liked. The other thing is that we are the ONLY Spanish speaking vision professionals to work with the MGCB from the US, or so we were told.  We have gotten to share a lot about our experiences and learned a lot about the system of education here as well.  It is very interesting that students who ONLY have a visual impairment or who are blind are served in the public schools.  If they have multiple impairments, they are served at separate schools.  Sadly, I was out sick because of something I ate, serves me right for becoming complacent, so I didn not go to work.  Yesterday after work, Katrina and I visited FAPIZ, a semi-private center that serves people with multiple impairments and teaches teachers Braille, orientation and mobility, and activities of daily living.

Anyway, on to the cerros (tops of mountains)...today we went to the country with our coworkers for a day of relaxation.  This included taking 2 different trufis (public taxis) to the complete other side of the valley and up into the hills.  We rode on the scariest road I have ever been on in my entire life.  There was a bridge of wood that I thought we were going to fall through and with the crazy roads, I felt like I was on an episode of IRT Most Dangerous Roads.  Upon arrival, I had a serious need to use the baño.  To my dismay not only did it cost 1 Boliviano to use it, but there was no place to sit.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we I had to pay to STAND while going to the restroom.  So instead, I decided to go to the woods with my partner in crime and squat againt a tree.  I ended up with bark in my underroos and a scratchy derrierre.  After our game of spin the bottle (asked questions when the bottle pointed to you in order to get to know the staff), we walked from the top of the mountain down to the closest city with paved roads.  I think it ended up being about 7 kilometers or more.  Next time they ask me if I want to wait for the bus (which I thought we were going to catch later) I am going to give a resounding YES!  So tomorrow we will continuing our work and enjoying api and buñuelos and then after, a quick teeth cleaning from the dentist on staff at the blind center.  Just a regular day in Bolivia...

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