Thursday, January 24, 2008

New volunteer coordinator takes over

Our new on-site volunteer coordinator has been getting to know Conviven for over a week now and here are Bella’s first thoughts about her new job and Conviven. Bella arrived from London and will be with us for a year.

“My role as I see it is making sure that there are enough activities for both volunteers and children – both should feel involved and looked after. At the moment things are rather slow at Conviven as most of the kids are at summer camps, I – however – seem to have lots to do with organizing new volunteers, responding to all of Liis mails and working out how things are done this side of the world.

All in all after a few days of total confusion am beginning to feel really at home which is pretty good after only a week. All the people at Conviven have been really lovely and I do love the place – it really has a lot of potential, it just needs people to really get involve and come up with great activities for the kids. Dale, need to get back to work.”

Monday, January 21, 2008

Jess: Their spirit is infectious

The classes in Ciudad Oculta have also started with new energy, although due to the fact that a lot of the kids are in day camps right now, the classes are smaller and quieter.

As we currently do not have a dance teacher, one of the workshops was changed and now we just play games with them on one of the days. Our volunteer Jess reports about the “Sala de juegos” that took place last week.

“As I and three other volunteers made our way into Ciudad Oculta, we were greeted by 12 children, aged from 1-11. As always, the children were excited to see us, and keen to play as many games in the hour as possible. Franco, the ever enthusiastic toddler, ran screaming around the room in a burst of excited energy.

We started playing outside in the sunshine. Sandwiched between a wall and a fence, we played “what time is it Mr. Wolf?”, followed by “What am I?”, a particular favourite among the kids. This involved the group splitting into two teams, each taking it in turns to imitate (in silence) an action, object, event, or location.

Once the other teams shouts out/ guesses the correct answer, the performing team has to run away without being caught & thus absorbed into the other team. This is often complicated by the fact that the children chose to imitate inanimate objects, such as gnocchi!

Following some more energetic games, we decided to move inside for the last 15 minutes. A round of the firm favourite- Simon Says (or Simon Dice) enduced a fit of giggles when “Simon” instructed the children to touch the heads of the older teenage boys, who were standing on the side-lines. Needless to say, the older boys were not too amused when 12 hysterical children ran at them, trying to touch their heads. To complete the session we played charades, and “duck goose”.

The children in Ciudad Oculta always welcome us with open arms & big smiles. Their enthusiasm & spirit is infectious, and their ability to play & enjoy what little they have is remarkable and humbling. Maria Rosa and various members of her family are always at hand and provide an invaluable place of safety for both the children and the volunteers.”

Friday, January 18, 2008

Conviven back in business

After a silent month Conviven is back on track. We have once again started the classes inside Ciudad Oculta and have picked up some new private English students at Conviven.

Next week we’ll go to a day camp to distribute flayers about our summer activities and after that we’ll hopefully have more kids to play with (at the moment we are just dealing with classes in Ciudad Oculta and private English students at Conviven).

Also as some of you might know, my time at Conviven is almost up. A year has passed by very quickly. There is a new person, Bella from the UK to take over my things and hopefully also this weblog!

PH15 exhibition in Las Vegas

The Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery, University of Nevada Las Vegas is pleased to host, "ph15: Young Photographers from Argentina," an exhibition of photographs by 29 young photographers and their teachers. It opens January 14, 2008 and runs through February 15, 2008 with a reception Friday, January 25 from 7 to 9 in the gallery.

University of Nevada, 4505 Maryland Parkway
Las Vegas, NV 89154-5002 United States
Phone 1 (702) 895-3893
Mo-Fri from 9AM to 5PM & Sat from 10AM to 2 PM

The ph15 workshop takes place at Conviven every week. In the beginning of their relationship with the sponsoring foundation, students are given cameras, which they are allowed to keep for life if they complete the first two-years of the program. The aim of the project is to teach kids the creative power of photography by giving them a form of expression that reflects their own values and culture.

You can read morea bout ph15 from their

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What did we do in 2007?

Here is a list of things we did during the second half of 2007. Unfortunately there are no records about what happened at Conviven before that, so if you remember any events that you helped to organise before June 2007, send the information to kangsepp at gmail dot com. thank you!

Teach English Programme
Took place
: every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 15.30-17.30 from February to December
Description: Teaching English to children in different age groups. The programme run relatively well and due to a bigger amount of volunteers we were able to provide a more individual approach. Kids knew their class time schedule and behaved (more or less). By December we had about 20-30 regular students and about 10-15 people who showed up every now and then. The kids were divided into groups according to their level.
Further plans: Finding a project manager for the programme who could be involved in creating a better curriculum, getting contact information of the students (so that we could prevent kids from falling out), getting more kids to show up.

Reorganising Teach English Programme
Took place
: August 2007
Description: Since students in each class were on a very different level, we made a test to divide them up in order to improve the teaching process.
Everybody took the 3 pages long test and after that A, B and C groups were formed, A being the lowest and C being the highest level. Today the test is used on new students.
Further plans: having a test every month or every two months in order to see the progress.

Creating a curriculum and a system of classroom records
Took place
: Oct-Nov 2007
Description: Every level was provided with their own binder that has appropriate worksheets in them. We went through some books to find worksheets and made some our own sheets, also photocopied everything. A system to maintain the folders was created.
Also every group has sort of a guideline for curriculum, attendance and progress sheets. Teachers are actively using the binders and they provide great help. Attendance and progress sheets are not filled as regularly as should.
Further plans: Finding a person who could only deal with the curriculum and binders (finding new worksheets, making sure the teachers fill in all the information about classes etc).

Creating a weblog
Took place
: July-August 2007
Description: putting together information about Conviven and how to volunteer with us in order to find new volunteers and also keep in touch with the old ones. Publishing information, news and stories about Conviven on We have managed to get other volunteers involved in creating content and we have a some regular readers. Already people interested in volunteering have found Conviven through the weblog.
Further plans: Getting more content and news to the site, finding more links. Getting the page to appear in search engines so that potential volunteers could find us more easily. Ideally finding an editor who could deal with updating weblog on a daily basis.

Creating a volunteer coordinator position
Took place
: June 2007
Description: In order to build a better organisational system, a long term volunteer was taken out of being a teacher. Liis started dealing with everything else, such as being in touch with new potential volunteers, coordinating volunteers at Conviven, keeping things under control, starting new projects, even being a secretary for Valmir. Creating that position has improved things at Conviven. Because of that we have more volunteers and it is easier to get along at Conviven for the short term volunteers.
At the moment Liis is about to leave her position and Bella is about to take over.

Creating a welcome kit for the new volunteers
Took place
: June 2007
Description: Some documents were put together to make it easier for the new volunteers to understand Conviven and the kids that come there. Originally the kit contained a sheet with contact information, short description of people working at Conviven, short introduction of Conviven as an organisation, some rules and overview of Teach English programme. Today volunteers say the welcome kit helped them a lot, but also some new content should be added. Also the list of rules has grew longer with time.

Creating a volunteer database
Took place
: June 2007
Description: We created a folder with the contact information of volunteers. All the new volunteers need to fill in a contact information sheet, all the data will be inserted to an excel table after that and the sheets are kept at Conviven. Before there were no records of how many volunteers have been working at Conviven, where were they from or how to get in touch with them after they’ve left.
Today the database has already helped us with fundraising and keeping in touch with people who used to work at Conviven.

We had different fundraisers on the second half of the year, making some money for Conviven. Some of the money was used to send Nahuel to compete in Turkey, some of it is still waiting to be invested in central heating or something else useful for Conviven.

Clean up day
Took place: 8th of November 2007
Description: We organised the space above the classrooms, reorganised the big hall a little, washed windows, walls and floors and threw out a lot of rubbish. We managed to get another cupboard for our stuff. Hopefully we have the time and manpower to reorganise kitchen in January and also get some painting done at the same time.

Mi pequeño hogar del dia
Started: 22nd of October 2007
Description: We started giving art, theatre, dance and English classes inside Ciudad Oculta. The classes became popular immediately.

Field trip to the park
Took place:
3rd of November
Description: kids were taken to the park to play and get away from their natural environment. The kids and volunteers had lots of fun.

Helping Nahuel to Turkey
Took place
: oct-nov 2007
Description: We fundraised money to send 10 year old Nahuel Rojas to compete World Youth Chess Championships. Now Nahuel is back from Turkey where he had the time of his life.

Starting a library for the volunteers
Took place
: Nov 2007
Description: quite many of our volunteers tend to read a lot, but don’t have books with them here in Buenos Aires, so we created a library to help. At the moment we already have more than 20 books, hopefully the amount will grow enough soon to establish a database.

Helping kids with homework and Math
Took place: on and off throughout 2007
Description: some of our volunteers have been helping the kids with their homework and math studies. In the future we would like to get more volunteers on projects like that so we could actually establish a similar programme to Teach English. There is a need for that in the neighbourhood.

Organising the library
Took place: Oct-Dec 2007
Description: creating some sort of order in the books we have on the shelves. After several people tried to organise it, the library still looks very messy, but probably less than half a year ago.

Conviven´s annual festival of end of the year
Took place: Dec 2007
Description: volunteers helped Valmir to organise a festival with different activities to end the year at Conviven. We had the whole day full of music, painting, singing, playing different games etc.