Dan Herrera – Okinawa

Dan Herrera
Okinawa, Bolivia

I liked being in a small town like Okinawa, where people knew each other and said hi. There are so many funny stories and memories it’s tough to remember them all! One good memory was when the Sors wanted the volunteers to lead the Rosario de la Aurora one day, so Brian and I were in the car with the Sors at 5 am, yelling in the bullhorn that they use to wake people up to get them to go to the Rosary.

Hometown: Troy, Michigan

Education/Work: University of Michigan, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering

Time in Okinawa: Arrived in Okinawa July 16th, 2000. Departed December 23rd, 2001.

Fellow Volunteers/Sors:

  • 2000: Volunteers – Courtney Carpenter, Paula Holtman, Marina Large, Brian Terrien, Natalie VaughanSors – Sor Anabel, Sor Carmen, Sor Gera, Sor Lucia, Sor Lucila,
  • 2001: Volunteers – Kris Meiergerd, Adam Rudin, Brian Terrien, Natalie Vaughan, Matt WelshSors – Sor Anabel, Sor Ely, Sor Eli (novitiate), Sor Gera, Sor Lucia, Sor Lucila, Sor Nora

Living Arrangements:

  • In 2000 I lived in the old Japanese house with Courtney Carpenter and Brian Terrien (part of the year). I still miss the trash pit from this house.
  • In 2001 I lived in the new house next to the church (aka the Okinawa Mansion) with Brian Terrien and Matt Welsh.

Teaching:

I taught mainly at San Francisco Xavier, and for half of 2001 I taught English 1 day a week at Okinawa 2 (basicos and intermedios).

  • At San Francisco, I taught English, Computers, Physics, and Chemistry. I taught Physics and Chemistry to the Terceros and Cuartos (2001), Computers to all the medios for half of 2000 and the Primeros, Segundos, and Cuartos in 2001, and English to some of the Intermedios and Medios (2000), and the Segundos (2001).

Other Activities/Responsibilities:

I was involved in tutoring the Terceros and Cuartos outside of class. We also helped the Sors with various other tasks, such as planning retreats and helping with the grades.

Something New:

Natalie and I started a medical fund for people in the town that was administered by Sor Nora. Hopefully this is continuing!

Free Time:

I enjoyed playing with the students when they would come over. In particular, there was a group of basico students that liked to come over to play games and run around. I also enjoyed playing soccer with the older kids, and I played on the teachers’ team for the fulbito (mini-soccer) tournament at the school.

Memories:

I liked being in a small town like Okinawa, where people knew each other and said hi. There are so many funny stories and memories it’s tough to remember them all! One good memory was when the Sors wanted the volunteers to lead the Rosario de la Aurora one day, so Brian and I were in the car with the Sors at 5 am, yelling in the bullhorn that they use to wake people up to get them to go to the Rosary.

Classroom Adventures:

Well, I can remember breaking up 2 or 3 fights in my classes. I guess that shows how tight a ship I ran!

Frustrations/Challenges:

It is frustrating how much the kids cheat. Be tough on cheating early! Also, the education system there is frustrating. The kids have to take too many subjects (about 16 I think!) and it’s tough to learn something if you only have the class once a week.

Additional Comments:

One thing that Natalie and I were able to do was raise some money from our parishes at home to help with school supplies and scholarships. That seemed to work out well. Also, I worked on a computer spreadsheet that prints out the students’ grades.