It's a bit surreal to be doing all these "lasts"... this afternoon was our final time volunteering at Las Heras Park with the street dogs; we brought all the newspaper we had collected over the weeks, and two giant bags of dog food, and said good-bye to both our four-legged and two-legged friends.
If we don't adopt another Humane Society dog when we get back to Toronto, we're thinking of at least volunteering at the local animal shelter once a week.
This afternoon, the boys and I hauled three large bags of stuff over to Las Heras Park to sell. Proceeds went to Mascotas en Adopcion, an animal shelter we've been volunteering with. Business was slow at first, but soon picked up, and the boys even made a few two-legged friends (the 10- and 11-year-old sons of another volunteer, and a 10-year-old girlfriend of theirs).
At the end of the afternoon, Alex got his "first kiss", as the 10-year-old girl innocently pecked him on the cheek -- as is the custom here -- to say good-bye. He was absolutely mortified, and went and hid in a bush!!!
While waiting for the bus home, we saw one of the Marias, who was en route home (on a passing bus) from an outing with her parents.
$100+ ARS for the street dogs, a first kiss, new mate mates and a Maria-sighting, all in one afternoon -- what a successful day! ;-P
(sorry, still no photos -- phone is resting nicely in the rice)
Is there anything better than sitting on the soft grass in the sunshine, a warm doggie snuggled in your lap, watching your children chase giant bubbles across the park? I think not!
We've been volunteering with a dog shelter located outside the city; on Saturday afternoons, one of the volunteers there loads up his van with a few strays and whatever puppies they have for adoption that week, and bring them to the corner of La Heras and Col Dias, right next to the park. A group of volunteers in the city hang out with said beasts, walking the bigger ones, minding the smaller ones, answering questions from potential adopters, and collecting donations of dog food, toys, money and newspaper.
After dropping off our contributions with the guy who drives the van, we took our first dog for a walk.
"Tatiana" was an old, fat girl who waddled her way down the street, charming even the police officers, one of whom bent down to chat her up and rub her behind her stinky ears. (Wag, wag went Tatiana's bushy tail!) The walk was slow with many stops to sniff grass, pee and other dogs. The highlight of this first walk was pausing to watch and listen to the Capoeira Group, complete with berimbau, that was practising in the park. Mommy enjoyed the music, the boys enjoyed the "fight/dance" and Tatiana, well, Tatiana seemed to just enjoy being out and about.
Next came "Tuccu-tuccu", a middle aged fellow, mostly white with a few black spots and an enormous scar where he had recently had a fairly invasive operation. His recovery had obviously been swift, and he insisted on pulling and pausing often. We had been told that he was sometimes aggressive with other dogs, but fortunately we found him to be quite amicable and sociable.
A city-sponsored fair seemed to have sprung up at the park today, and the boys wanted some guitar balloons from one of the street vendors, so Tuccu-tuccu enjoyed many new smells as we wandered amongst balloons and bouncy castle and various city displays.
Other than the pulling, he was a very well-behaved doggie.
Our final victim of the afternoon was "Mulatu", a skittish gal who had to be convinced by the shelter staff that we were not out to get her. "Vamos!", I insisted, pulling her away from the street corner where she had been hanging out with the rest of her "pack". Eventually she must have decided we were not bad guys, because she began trotting along beside us, though her tail remained tucked between her legs for some time, and she periodically looked back at the group as though to inquire, "why have you sent me off with these strange people?!"
We decided to walk the perimeter of the park, rather than haul this poor girl through the crowds, and on the other side of the park, we came to a large greenspace where people had congregated to drink mate and watch the park performers who came here to practise rope climbing, ball juggling and bubble blowing each weekend.
As the boys were fascinated with the giant bubbles, and wanted to chase and break them in the air, I decided to have a seat in the grass for a bit and watch. Mulatu plopped down beside me, and snuggled her head into my lap. I tentatively gave her ears a little scratch, and when I stopped, she nuzzled up against my hand, and in fact, climbed more fully into my lap (she was rather a bit large for a "lap dog", but that thought seemed not to have occurred to her, and the formerly skittish street dog, undeterred by her size, pushed her furry, stinky body further into my lap and demanded all manner of tummy rubs and ear scratches for the better part of the next hour!
Once the boys were ready to go, I got up and tugged at our temporary lap dog's leash. "Vamos", I offered feebly, but she resisted, and instead rolled onto her back, relishing the feel of the cool grass on this warm, sunny day, and advising us that she was in no hurry to return to the group. It took a fair bit of convincing, and no small amount of pulling, to get the beast to finally get up and follow us back across the park!
By the time we dropped Mulatu back at the corner, her tail was cautiously wagging, and she seemed to have decided that we were friends.
We promised to return to the park next Saturday, with sellable items we were not planning to take back to Canada with us, so that the boys could set up shop along the street next to the booth, and donate their proceeds to the dog shelter.
We’ve read a number of books dealing with social justice and equity issues this year in “class”. Many times, the subject of poverty has come up consciously or subconsciously. Simon in particular seems to be deeply affected by the topic of homelessness and poverty, and thinks about it a great deal. (He also recently wrote a blog post about an idea he had -- it was completely un-researched, but shows his keen interest in the topic.)
While Alex engages in a photography project with one of the Marias over the next several weeks, I want to support Simon in digging deeper into the concepts of poverty and homelessness, and the possible solution of communal living, which he wrote about in his blog post.
Based on the Eleanor Rigby project (an archived iEARN project), I have developed the following series of lessons for Simon. If you like them, feel free to modify them for use with your own students/children/class. If you have an idea you think I should add, or want to tell me about a Canadian resource we should include, please feel free to comment below or contact me directly.
1. Introduction & Stereotypes
When we hear the words “homelessness”, what comes to mind? Jot down as 5-7 words you think of when you hear “homeless”.
Next, read this article, about the myths of homelessness.
Now, a quote:
What are some of the stories of people in this article about a homeless shelter in Malta?
Collect data about people’s perspectives on homelessness. Use “Surveymonkey” or another free online survey creation tool to make a survey and collect responses from 20 people you know. Try to survey people from a variety of age groups and backgrounds. Here are some questions you might include:
How would YOU answer the questions? Take the survey, and include your own data!
2. Analysing Data & Dispelling Myths
Look at the survey results. What surprises you about people’s responses? What questions do you still have?
Choose one or two of the survey questions, and research the topic on the internet to find some facts and statistics. Be sure you are using reliable sources, and try to read at least 3 articles or websites in order to triangulate your data. Consider using major newspapers, food banks or homeless shelters to gather statistics.
Here are some articles and websites to get you started:
3. Presenting the Data
How does the information you collected in Lesson 2 compare with people’s responses on your survey from Lesson 1? Choose TWO ways to share your data. You could create a graph or mind map, or you could write an email to one of your survey respondents to let them know what you found out. Maybe you could create an infographic.
How else might you present your data on homelessness and poverty?
4. Find out More
If you had the chance to interview a homeless person, what would you ask him/her? Develop a list of questions you might ask. Consider how you could find this information in a respectful manner. Would it be okay to interview a homeless person on the street? Why or why not? How could you access the information you want to get from your primary source?
Once you’ve found out more, write a blog post about your experience. Begin with an introductory or topic sentence, then include 3-4 of the following sentences:
5. How Can I Help?
Now that you know a little more about poverty and homelessness, what are some of the ways you can help? Brainstorm a list of ideas (solutions could be as simple as showing kindness to individuals, or writing a letter to the editor, or choosing a lifestyle that supports better sustainability of resources and does not take advantage of others, or lobbying a local politician about policies impacting the homeless).
From your list, circle 2-3 items that you could realistically accomplish, then do a little more research on how to proceed.
Not sure how to proceed? Need a little inspiration? Here are some interesting articles:
6. Summing up and Sharing
Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked together at homelessness and poverty, and explored some ideas for helping. It’s important to share your learning and reflections, so that others can learn from your experiences. Brainstorm the key points of your experiences and learning, as well as some next steps (the project doesn’t end here… your commitment to helping can continue).
Create a 3-5 slide Explain Everything presentation, or a five-minute iMovie, and post it on your blog. Include myths, data, new things you learned, your feelings, ideas (and why they might or might not work) and thoughts about next steps. Consider the purpose and audience for your presentation. Use colour and images as well as tone of voice (and music, if you want to) to get your point across.
Seminario de Verano
In January and February, a 4-week session is held for the new teachers recruited by Enseno por Argentina.
After the first two weeks of classes, the pre-service teachers are paired with 1-2 other student teachers as well as a mentor teacher, and they then teach a 2-week summer school, using their brand-new skills!
The school is open to 5th- to 8th-grade students in the community, who register voluntarily. The program runs for 3.5 hours (three 1-hour classes plus two 15-minute breaks) in the afternoons. The teacher candidates teach one-hour classes each day in language, math or English. When they are not teaching, they continue to attend sessions, such as the ESL workshops I presented today.
As I do for every session I teach, children to adults, I took some time to prepare the learning space as best I could with the limited materials on hand...
Elizabeth Coelho had been kind enough to donate two copies of her book, "Adding English", which I shared in my workshop, and gave away as prizes afterwards! The NGO also had some magazines and other supplies available, and I eagerly set these up in the classroom, so that we could prepare some picture cards for various ESL activities.
The limited (i.e. no) technology in the classroom ensured that my session would be practical and hands-on; I prepared an image from the National Museum ahead of time for a PWIM activity and a field trip pep talk!
After setting up, it was time for lunch. I followed an EPA staff member through the grounds to the other side of the school, where lunch was being served. This gave me the opportunity to see some more of the school -- I was particularly intrigued by what appeared to be a small swimming pool in the courtyard of the Kindergarten class. (Sure beats the tiny water tables in our Canadian kindergarten classes, lol!)
I ate lunch with a former civil engineer from Shell, a former accountant and a someone who had done international relations work. All were excited by the prospect of teaching, but--just like the preservice program I used to teach with in Toronto--they were already blown away with the breakneck pace of the teaching profession, into which they had only just been immersed for a few weeks.
There were exasperated sighs and signs of frustrated exhaustion at the lunch table. But these were balanced with healthy doses of optimism and determination, and the student teachers spoke enthusiastically about their experiences to date, and asked me relevant and meaningful questions about my own classroom experience, too.
After lunch, the children began to arrive, and many of the teacher candidates left to prepare for the classes they were teaching, or to help with registering the students.
The afternoon began with all the students and teachers gathering in the courtyard for some opening exercises, including a cross-grade warm-up activity (not unlike the Tribes sort of thing we might do at home). Then it was time for raising the flag.
I was amazed at how -- after participating so boisterously in the warm-up activity -- the 100 or so students stood perfectly still at the raising of the Argentinean flag!
They seem to posess a keen sense of national pride. Even the stray dog that trotted to and fro throughout the afternoon did not seem to distract the students during this important time!
"Engaging English Language Learners"
Now it was time for my two sessions on engaging English language learners. The practical and transferable strategies in both sessions were well received, as were the "Canada" pencils I had brought along as workshop swag!
Later in the day, after the children had left, the student teachers participated in a closing reflection activity designed and run by a group of four of them.
The activity involved three teams, each with a blindfolded leader, being led in a path around and between various obstacles (chairs with large signs on them--financial hardship, lack of motivation, etc.) when each team had reached the goal (the flagpole), everyone cheered.
The School Bus
Finally, it was time to head home on the bus; a schoolbus travels to four central locales, dropping people off thoughout the city. (Many of the teachers then take additional buses or trains out to the suburbs. The suburbs, as I learned, are generally built around a big park with a primary school, church and govt office building, surrounded by smaller parks, and smaller parks still. Houses line streets that run on a diagonal out from the big, central park. )
Our transport was supposed to arrive at 6 pm... By 6:43 pm, we were finally seated on said transport, and were on our way!
While waiting for and riding the bus, I was able to chat and learn from several more teacher candidates, making for an interesting close to an already fascinating day. The generous and hospitable spirits of the people involved with this project filled me once again with hope and optimism. I feel very fortunate to have been invited to participate in this incredible opportunity.
Today I had the opportunity to facilitate some workshops for student teachers at Ensena por Argentina, at their summer institute in Villa Soldati.
Eager to see "real" parts of the city beyond the safety and relative beauty of the Palermo and touristy neighbourhoods in BsAs, I set out by subte this morning for the 1.5-hour trek to Nstra. Sra. de Famtima, the complex of school buildings where the NGO's summer institute was being held.
It was my first time on the E line, a considerably older subway line than the more familiar D we usually take. The yellow subway cars were fairly spacious, but the wear and tear was evident. No advertisements were posted in the cars, and I did not see any musicians/performers or sales people; not sure if this was just an unusual time of day to be traveling, though.
Once the train arrived at the end of the line, I had to transfer yet again, this time to the "Pre-metro", a type of streetcar trolley.
The area this took me into showed me a landscape that was visibly different from the comforts of Palermo I have grown used to, though the same obsession with security was evident in the glass shards that topped the walls of courtyards, preventing anyone from climbing over the top!
Stay tuned for the next blog post... a pretty neat school project in Villa Soldati!
Through a serendipitous sequence of events, I had the great privilege recently of connecting with the fine folks from "Esena Por Argentina", a local advocacy group inspired by the Teach for America model in the US.
Driven by the belief that "Poverty is not Destiny", but rather, that it is a solveable problem, and that change is possible, both "Teach" organizations make it a habit to recruit enthusiastic and talented young leaders from across various sectors, and convince them to try their hand at teaching instead. More specifically, to try their hand at teaching in a school that serves students from low-income populations.
I met a gal from the Argentinean group for coffee the other day.
She explained how, despite seemingly insurmountable red tape and a host of other problems, her team of 12 were committed to "Creating a movement that transforms classrooms and the education system, so that all children and young adults in Argentina have equal opportunities to develop their capabilities."
More specifically, she noted that while of course they were looking for excellent teachers who were willing to commit a minimum of two years to the program, an equally important objective was to educate -- through this model -- influencial people from all sectors of the general popultion. You see, after they finance the "whatever-to-teacher" career change for the would-be teachers (who go through a rigourous screening process), and heavily support their new teachers through ongoing professional learning while they spend a minimum of two years serving in one of the city's neediest schools, the organization expects that many of them will return to their original fields.
BUT (and here's the brilliance in the plan), they will do so with a first-hand, "in the trenches" understanding of some of the many challenges faced by students and teachers in Buenos Aires' school system. And, as these individuals move in their various spheres of influence, it is hoped that this real life understanding will help inform future policy direction vis a vis public education.
It's a bold proposal in a country where only 44% of students complete secondary school. Educating future policy-makers and influencers is a long-term committment, no question. But the concrete action plan my young friend spoke of confidently over our drinks at a corner cafe on Rividavia the other day did indeed suggest that this is a "solveable problem".
The BsAs team includes one subgroup that recruits new teachers, another that coordinates with the schools, one that organizes the professional development training and summer institute, and a group solely committed it is to lobbying the government. (For example, while they are working to expand their program, currently, they are not allowed to do work in primary schools.)
Ensena is an organization that puts its money where its mouth is, and works dilligently and in an apparently organized fashion to model the ethically driven change agency it wishes to promote in the country's public schools and governments.
My contact's optimism and sense of possibility were infectious; I'm looking forward to facilitating a workshop for new teachers the program, on instructional strategies for ESL, at their Summer Institute in February 2014!
Leaving behind or putting on hold some of my volunteer committments back home was one of the casualties of moving to a new country for a year.
The "twiplets", as Tats refers to them, are a family we've known since the twins were 4 years old and their triplet brothers were - 2 weeks old! (You can read more about this remarkable family here.)
Fortunately, a friend and co-volunteer back home was kind enough to send some updated photos, taken at a vet open house that she took the younger three to recently.
I am looking forward to catching up with the twiplets when we get back home.
The first part of this exciting adventure was the journey itself. Puerto Iguazu is to Buenos Aires as PEI is to Toronto… with the exception that the former offers a greater and more reasonable selection of travel options.
Although the flight from BA to Puerto Iguazu is only two hours, and quite reasonably priced for residents, the 18-hour bus ride is far more affordable for foreigners, whom airlines can apparently charge up to three times as much for the same flight. And the bus line, which includes “sleeper suite” buses with fully reclining seats, offers a hefty discount if you pay in cash. So, obviously, we chose to take the bus. Besides, we knew the view along the way would be an exciting learning experience in itself.
The huge bus terminal in BA is at any time a noisy, busy place. In the evening, when most of these long-haul tours leave, it is even more so: Nervous tourists huddle in groups, clutching their bags closely, or wander over to check the news stand for some reading material for the long ride (we grabbed two sticker books for the boys and a dirty magazine for ourselves!) People are drinking mate, having their hair cut,
The constantly-changing schedule board offers direction to those of us who are new and have no idea which of the roughly 100 gates to head to for our bus. While we stand near our gate waiting, a father with filthy hands pushes a stroller containing a grimy-looking toddler past us; he asks for some money. I give him a cookie instead -- I had baked them for the road. His equally unkempt wife finds me a few minutes later and asks if the cookies were prepared in my “cocina”, which I have learned means “kitchen”. I confirm this with a nod of my head and a “si”, and she smiles with crumbs falling out of her mouth and proclaims them “muy rica!”, which Jorge taught us means “delicious”. I wish I had a whole bag to give her. Instead I smile, say “gracias”, then point to my kids and say “hemelo”, the word I have recently learned means “monozygotic twins”. We smile a moment longer at one another, and I head back to Tats and the boys. Our bus has arrived, and it’s time to board.
The service begins at the door, with two friendly attendants greeting us, checking our tickets, and offering us a candy before we head inside and upstairs to our seats.
The boys are wired!
Each seat is quite spacious, fully reclining and with its own adjustable foot rest and individual TV. On each seat is a pillow, a blanket, and a bag containing headphones (why did I pack my own?!) and a “grooming kit”. Wow!
The bus leaves minutes after its arrival; schedules are pretty tight here, it seems.
Shortly after departure, an attendant comes around to serve drinks and a small h’ors d'oeuvre. Tats runs into trouble because -- like pretty much everyone here in Argentina so far (no kidding, she's been chased out of numerous washrooms!!!) -- the attendant assumes she’s a 15-year-old boy, and so won’t serve her a drink! As Tatsy rummages for her password, I try in broken Spanish to explain that she is in fact “treinta y una”. Moments later, Tats has the much-needed strong drink in hand. (As a side note, she continues to avail herself of the free champagne, wine and more throughout the evening – “on principal”, she says, and also because the other three in our party aren't drinking, so she has to make the tickets worth their money, she claims!!)
Exhaustion soon wins out over excitement for the boys, and it doesn’t take much convincing to get them ready for bed. They each have a window seat, which means they have their own curtain, providing a nice, dark cubicle for sleeping. A few chapters of read aloud and a short massage later, they’re both sleeping soundly.
While I wait for dinner (no point trying to sleep before that commotion is over), I check the TV -- Gatsby is on. I never did finish that movie when I tried to watch it a few months ago, so I settle in with the headphones. It’s even in English (with Spanish sub-titles, to help me practice)!
Presently, dinner arrives. For me (I had requested a veg meal), it is an enormous tomato and cheese salad, or so I think. Turns out that was just the appetizer. A hot meal soon follows; the service on this bus is truly amazing!
After dinner is done and the movie is finished, I attempt to settle in for the night. I recline my chair, pull up my foot rest, and stuff in my ear plugs. I close my eyes, but even with this somewhat comfy chair, sleep is elusive; it is too bright, the bus is lurching around corners and stopping at every brightly lit check point for inspection, the thin blanket is too chilly… I do manage to doze a little… around 1:30 p.m., the curtain opens and Alex checks in on me. “What time is it, Mommy?” I tell him it’s 1:30, and he can go back to sleep, which he does. I, on the other hand, visit the washroom several times and try to get comfortable and warm by adding a layer and tucking my shirt into my pants. I drift in and out of a fitful sleep until suddenly it is bright outside.
The digital clock at the front of the bus says “6:52”. Hard to believe we have 8 more hours to go!!
Alex is just waking up, too, and I offer him the wet cloth from the grooming kit. (Had I only looked in there earlier -- it includes a toothbrush, paste, a comb, and an EYE PATCH!! Oh well, now I know for the ride home!)
An amazing sight greats us when I open the curtains: GREEN! Everything is green! There are trees, and fields and just so much GREEN!!! I haven’t seen this much green (outside the Botanical Gardens) in two weeks!!!
We are definitely not in Buenos Aires anymore.
Not long after we awake, the attendant is back around with drinks (including tea this time, oh, so wonderful after my fitful sleep!) and a tray of generic packaged foods. Luckily, I had also saved a peach cocktail and an apple from dinner last night.
We eat, and then it’s time for the boys and I to write a little in our travel journals (me on my laptop, and Alex and Simon on the graphic organizer I made them for the journey; they’ll transfer it to their blogs when we get back home to the apartment).
After the morning writing, the boys have a bit of free time before we begin “school”. (With such a long bus ride, I decided to bring a few things with me, so that we could continue with our learning on the road.)
School is held this morning in Alex’s reclined seat. Both boys perch there as we begin with our Bible study (a passage from Romans), and then move on to reading, word study,
math (via a new, two-player app--Math Bazingo--on the iPad) and Social studies. Our window looks out onto the Argentinean countryside.
What a way to start the day!
Out of commission with a sinus cold, I took to my bed for a few hours this morning, just to rest.
But “rest” is elusive here in Buenos Aires: Even on Saturdays, there is always a hammer pounding, or the sound of a drill, a saw or a yelling construction worker from one of the invariably nearby towers being built… far below me, the sounds from the streets waft up to my bedroom: the hum of traffic, a radio blaring in the distance, an ambulance siren screaming, horns honking... Buenos Aires is an exciting place, that's for sure, but it doesn't provide much in the way of a lullaby!
No matter... my semi-private refuge gives me some time to digest a few of my first impressions of this incredible place, a place I have spent the past six months or so researching more on a practical level (housing prices, neighbourhood safety, cost of airline tickets, etc.) than a philosophical or cultural one.
The boys and I did read a few books to get a historical and geographical overview, but there really is nothing quite like living here for a while to get a sense of this world: In less than two weeks, I feel myself becoming a part of the mosaic that makes up this "gotta be here to get it" metropolis.
Although we're still getting stopped by helpful passers-by every time we pull out a map, and attracting the advice of other English-speaking visitors on the subte who tell us to keep our backpacks close (they don't know that those generic bags that appear to be so casually slung over our shoulders are actually the virtually indestructible and basically theft-proof "pacsafes" I researched and shelled out good money for months in advance of our journey here!!) , we are becoming more confident and independent as we travel around this cosmopolitan center.
I won't say we blend in; I don't think we ever will, what with a set of little, blond "gemelos" in tow...
But we already get our groceries at a place that is less expensive than the convenient but over-priced Carre-Four Express outside our apartment, we know we prefer the "hilado" shop on Scalabrini Ortiz over the more popular and ubiquitous Freddo chain, and I'm pretty confident that if the boys ever got lost (DON'T WORRY, DADDY -- THEY WON'T!!! ;-P ), they could find their way home on the Subte from pretty much anywhere in the city now (so long as they're not too shy to ask "Donde esta el Subte?" like we've taught them)!
Living a life beyond the "touristy", more short term vacation parts of Buenos Aires, though, means having an awareness of the city's underbelly, too, its many slums and the political and economic struggles both individuals and groups of people here face. Just one example I've noticed is the number of children living in poverty in the city: We've seen them begging on the streets with their parents (or sometimes, not even begging, but just living here on the streets -- the other day, I observed a father sitting on a dirty mattress on the sidewalk, preparing a bottle of milk for his grimy toddler while mom took a nap or was sick on the mattress next to him), and we've seen them in the subways, selling stuff for a peso or two to whomever will buy it.
Anyone with an ounce of compassion cannot simply ignore this very real and ever-present part of our host city. As a parent and an elementary school educator, I am especially moved when I see children living in such conditions. As Alex noted at dinner last night, when we were debriefing the particularly grubby-faced girl with dirty clothes and unwashed hair we had seen on the subway ride home (I had bought a useless cardboard trinket from her... not because I needed or wanted it, but because I was desperate to help in some way, and wasn't sure what else to do. She didn't even smile when I handed her the 2-peso bill as she came around to collect her trinkets back or money from those who were buying.), as Alex commented, "I feel sad for those people."
"Sad, indeed", I think, looking out the window from the comfort of my sick bed. I am looking out, not onto a slum next door to me, but onto a balcony filled with green and growing things, a sunny balcony, that has a door leading into a decently sized living room with heated floors and comfortable furniture. I think of the healthy, well-balanced meal that Tats is preparing in the kitchen, and I listen to the laughter emanating from the room next to me, where Alex and Simon are playing a game together, a game free from the worries of not enough food, clothing or shelter.
What's to be done?
Our primary mission on this trip is not volunteer work, and yet it is an element I do want to incorporate into our lives here. The boys and I have always volunteered in some capacity, and I believe it's our duty -- as people of unearned privilege -- to contribute something, even while "on vacation".
The question, as newcomers and uneducated foreigners, is what?
The view from my window doesn't hold the answer.