Thursday, November 29, 2007

Help for the ONW paper

This is a picture of the women who sell me my vegetables in Cajamarca. They are so great they scout out stuff that they don't have so I don't have to go running all over the market. And I love the traditional Cajamarcan sombrero.

So I have returned to Catilluc, finally. I feel like I haven’t slept in days even though I slept a little on the bus the first night of my return trip. I never sleep on the bus to Catilluc but that’s because the road to Catilluc is windy and treacherous and the bus isn’t that comfortable. It’s really old. I am looking forward to slowly diving back into work. The committee for the CAID decided a few weeks ago that it would be better if I started with my real work plan after the New Year when the students are on vacations and after La Navidad (Christmas).

I want to send another shout out to the Olathe Northwest Spanish Four class, and potentially give you a little help on your most recent assignment from Senora Winkler and Senorita Robinson. I hope I’m not too late. Also, I received your cards. Thank you so much. I will respond to them as soon as I get a chance. For those of you not in ONW Spanish classes, feel free to read on anyway.

So there are four areas you were supposed to compare and contrast with the United States: “A Day in the Life,” “Food,” “Family,” and “Cultural Oddities.” Here are a few brief thoughts on each topic.

A Day in the Life:
Well, there was an entire post on this, but let me talk a little bit about what I see from other people. Life is much more tranquil here, that’s too be expected. Many people pass the days just sitting on a bench outside a local store (tienda) and gossip or the women knit. Knitting is very common in Catilluc and can’t walk down the street without finding a woman in the middle of making a scarf or a shawl or a poncho.
And you can’t just walk down the street you are required to saludar (greet) every person you see. It’s part of my daily life as the walk to the Internet takes me right through the center of town. To not greet someone is to say you don’t like him or her. This is something I’m not used to at all, but I work on every day.

Mountains and Mountains of rice and potatoes - carbohydrates. I am gaining a lot of weight in my stomach because this is mostly what I eat. We were told in training that any Peruvian meal begins with a lot of rice. Rice cookers are a fairly common household gadget. My family doesn’t have one, but we still eat a lot of rice. Come to think of it, I haven’t eaten a piece of fruit or a vegetable today. I really need to run to the store to buy some.

Multiple generations live in one house, and more often than not families stay in the same communities. Although this is changing some with modernization and globalization. Poverty is driving many people into the major cities to find work. It’s more common to see three siblings in this generation of adolescents, but just one generation back you see families of 8, 9 or 13 plus.
Couples don’t have to be married officially. In fact, often times they have common law marriages and later get married in the church. There are often two declarations of marriage, but many people avoid the church, even if they call themselves Catholic. Divorce is very unheard of and is very stigmatized. I have heard several snide comments about the United States in this regard, how we have so many divorces. Of course the problem is, there is actually a lot of domestic and sexual violence that occurs in families. And women are often stuck in awful, terrible marriages. That’s not to say that there aren’t good marriages, but they are somewhat few and far between sometimes.

Cultural Oddities:
I didn’t know where else to put this, but gossip is rampant and awful here. I’m fairly used to it in the states, but this takes on a whole new connotation when I hear things about my that I either entrusted to someone else or I hear complete lies about me.
Instead of the use of Senor or Senora, Don and Dona are used, for example, Senor Last Name or Don First Name, same with women’s names. When I first came here I thought there were a lot of men named Don, and I wasn’t sure where the name came from.
The system of education here is very, very poor. There are two warring factions: the union (called SUTEP) and the Ministry of Education. Often teachers strike, abandoning their classes for days or weeks at a time. And sometimes they just don’t show up to class for a long time. Of course they aren’t entirely to blame. They don’t receive much support from the Ministry of Education. Basic supplies are dramatically missing. This of course means that the burden can often fall on parents to provide supplies, or money, or labor for new building projects.

All right, so just a little more. I apologize if I’ve covered this before, but this is what came to mind as I was thinking about it. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. More positive blogs to come.

1 comment:

Mardy said...

This is a great! Thanks for helping the kids with their papers. They have all said that they enjoy reading your blogs and learning about the Peruvian culture. Good Times! Also, I loved the picture. Give us more! :)