Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Update from Uruguay - We're at camp!

Playing volleyball in San Jose


Tara, Marjan and I have access to a computer and internet right now so we thought we´d update you on our trip to San Jose, and how life at Camp Artigas is going so far.

On Friday, Feb 11, 2012 we arrived in San Jose. We got to visit ¨La Casita¨ where a lot of their social programs for kids and youth are run. We got to sit in on a First Aid class happening there (not run to certify the youth, simply just to give them knowledge). We learned that La Casita is a second home to about 120 youth, who use the facility to do homework, study, have something to eat, brush their teeth, plant an organic garden and play games. As of now, the Casita consists of 4 classrooms, a kitchen, an office and a bathroom. They have an outside area to play in, but it doesn´t belong to them (they are hoping to purchase it), as well as they have an outdoor organic garden which they grow food that they use to cook. We were happy to find out that the Casita was made possible because of the strong partnership with the Winnipeg Y, growing over the past 40 years. 

"What time is it Mr. Shark?" on the beach!
We visited the other branch of the Y in San Jose which was the gym, workout area and pool. Carla, the CEO, hosted a BBQ with all the leaders and employees of the Y there to welcome us. 

During our stay in San Jose we stayed with Fernando Ramos, the vice-president of the board of the San Jose Y. Fernando and his family were very hospitable and welcoming to us.

After the weekend in San Jose, we came to camp on a school bus with a group of campers and leaders. The bus ride began at 8am, and was nothing short of 2 drums, a tambourine, singing and laughter. Oh, and there was also a megaphone in the mix. About half way through the trip, a herd of cows started to run towards the bus! We slowed down and waited for the cows to separate to the sides of the road. We started to speed up again, only to see they were quick to turn around and herd with the bus. 

First aid class
Camp Artigas is very rustic and beautiful. There are an abundance of eucalyptus trees, a river and sandy beaches. There are four main zones with cabins and bathrooms. We are staying in the central zone. The main activities during the day are beach games, boating, canoeing, zip-lining, and games in the forest. There are also some arts and crafts. There are coordinators and camp employees here, but the leaders run the show. We have been able to incorporate our ideas, games, and songs from home with the groups. The heat during the afternoon is very trying. Tonight some of the groups will be sleeping in tents after cooking super on a bonfire (supper here is at the earliest 9pm). We´ve only been here for a few days (including our time last week), the camp in deep in tradition and so far we´ve barely scratched the surface. 

We´re not sure when we will have access to a computer again, however when we do we will be sure to send another update. Tara is also able to send pictures through her phone when she has a chance.

We hope all is well back at home!


Tara, Marjan and Kristen

Friday, February 3, 2012

Update from Uruguay!

L-R: Marjan, Kristen & Tara

Below is our first update from our Urugay exchange participants, Kristen, Tara and Marjan.

Hola de Uruguay!

We arrived Sunday morning at 11am, and were picked up from the airport by Adrian and Omar. Then we were taken to our home stays. I am staying with an elderly lady named Margarita, who is in many ways the Uruguyan version of my Grandma. The last two days we have spent acclimatizing to the hot, humid weather of Montevideo, while meeting everyone from the ACJ, the Asociacion Cristiana de Jovenes. We’ve been sharing information about our different facilities in Canada, and learning about the various Y facilities here in Uruguay.  It is refreshing to see that we are so far away from home, yet the Y is just as strong with its programs and values here in Uruguay. Of course things are run a little differently here, however most importantly our countries are both working towards the same goals.  It is enlightening to listen to people here talk about the Y, and see the belief and passion they have for the organization.  It seems as though the organizations are focused in the same areas, recreation and social programs. The most important thing to the people here is building relationships between members and practising the core values in action.

The Downtown branch, which I am currently staying right next to, is a centre focused on child and youth programs. There is a gym and a pool, and people have memberships; however, the majority of the programs running right now are day camps for children and youth ages 2-17. We’ve been helping run the day camps during the afternoons, and it’s been a blast! The kids are adorable of course, and eager to show us they can count to 10 in English and say various things.  Yesterday, we had the opportunity to see the new school in the process of being built. The school will be for pre-schoolers, and the people from the Y are very proud and excited about it. They will be opening in March of this year, and will start off with a small class of ten children, with hopes of growing in the near future.

This weekend Marjan, Tara and I are being sent to the beach to get to know each other better, and to see the resort town of Punta Del Este.   We will then be off to Campamento Artigas next Tuesday. The following weekend we are going to San Jose to see the facility there and learn about the social programs going on. This Thursday we are also going to get the chance to talk more in depth about the social programs going on in Montevideo.

Other than that, the food has been amazing, and the people have gone above and beyond to ensure we are comfortable and safe. Tara, Marjan and I are getting to know each other, and we are very happy to be here!

I hope all is well at home! Take care,

Kristen Schmidt
YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg

So far so good!

What a great opportunity! What a country! We have been welcomed with open arms. Everyone we meet is so kind and seems to be just as eager to learn English as we are to learn Spanish. It has really been a treat to see the similarities between the YMCA of Uruguay and Ys across Canada. They stress the importance of the YMCA core values and boast of all of their life-long Y members.

Though we have only been here a couple days we have already experienced so much and can´t wait to see what´s next.


Tara Molson 
YMCA Regina

Hi from Uruguay! 

Everything is going SO well and we love how beautiful it is here!  So far, we have spent the week visiting the different YMCAs in the capital city, and meeting some of the staff and the kids.  It's been really nice to build relationships with the staff and the kids at YMCA, because a lot of the same kids will be at Camp Artigas next week when we go.  It's also been so interesting to see how similar their YMCAs are to ours in Canada. We have had the chance to see a lot of their programs and how they run this week, and it's amazing how we do almost the exact same things in our children and youth programs as they do!  There's a bit of a language barrier because they predominantly speak Spanish (and my Spanish is pretty rustic!), but just by observing the programs, we can see the quality of their programs and we are able to point out the similarities. Yesterday, we helped with a program for 6 and 7 year old children. Their counsellor sat them all in a circle and started to explain a game.  Instantly, Kristen, Tara and myself were able to join the game because we had all played the same game with children in our programs back in Canada!  

Everyone here from the YMCA has been so hospitable to us!  The host family I am staying with this week has been taking very good care of me as well!  

We will continue to take pictures and keep you updated on everything that's happening here!  Talk to you soon!

Marjan Mogharrabi

We look forward to future updates from the exchange!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Peace Medal and Prezi

On January 30, 2012 at the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg's Annual General Meeting, Bre Woligroski was presented the Peace Medal.

An advocate and activist for human rights and social justice, Bre Woligroski has changed lives.  She was selected as this year’s Peace Medal recipient for her many acts focusing “on long term, sustainable impact on individuals and communities.” Click here to learn more about Bre!

Bre Woligroski receives the Peace Medal,
presented by Pamela Wright, Chair of the International Working Group,
and Dal McCloy, Chair of the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg's Board of Directors.

The International Working Group was given the opportunity to have a presentation available before the AGM in order to inform the many staff, volunteers and community members about the work that we do. Click here to view our Prezi!