Monday, December 15, 2008
I encounter this problem a lot. I’ll be sitting in a restaurant here in Peru and again I’ll be unsure of what to order and so I’ll ask for a recommendation. I’m usually lucky to get an answer, but if I do, you can bet that I order that particular item because I want to give Peruvians the idea that their opinions and ideas have value. The underlying problem here is twofold. First, it’s a matter of self-esteem. Peruvians (as a generalization) are not taught that their opinion matters. But when you’re playing the recommendation game with me, your opinion always counts. I rarely ever turn down a recommendation. One of the things we do in the youth development program is not only teach about self-esteem, emotions, and self-knowledge but recently I went to several classes and put signs on three different walls in the class room. The first reads, “I agree.” The second, “I don’t agree.” And the third states, “I’m not sure.” Then I read different phrases (the older the group, the more controversial) and the students then have to walk to the sign where their opinion is stated. One of the phrases says, “You can get good work even if you don’t finish high school.” The students then have to defend their answer – not all of them, but I call on different ones to see why they think what they are thinking. I’m amazed with how little these students think about their own opinions. Many students thanked me for the activity after class saying it was the first time they had thought about the topics I had brought up (everything from education to abortion) and they appreciate that I don’t judge their opinions which is key to teaching these types of classes. I absolutely have to put my opinions and ideas out the back door, but I do get to play devil’s advocate and it is fun to get people to think about their answers. Now that I think about it, I would love to get more activities like this – so if you have any, feel free to send them to me.
The second fold in the twofold underlying problem is that this is a culture of people who don’t want to offend other people. They are a very polite culture. For example, sometimes people are invited to a party in which they know they cannot attend, but regardless they will accept the invitation and then just not show up. Because it is better to save the face of the person who is inviting you to their face, if you don’t show up the inviter can always say they never invited the invitee. So while playing the recommendation game people don’t want to offend nor be offended. They don’t offer up their opinions readily in case it’s contrary to yours and then you would be offended. I like aspects of the polite culture, but it is frustrating when you set up a meeting or invite people to event and they never show.
I have had minor success playing the recommendation game with younger children. Often times they will be helping out their parents and somehow they’ll catch my eye, and so I’ll ask them what do you recommend. After some hesitation, and maybe a little prodding on my part, they will quite frequently give me a response. And no matter how good or bad the recommendation I always take it to show the child that their ideas are valued and valuable. I guess it’s one of the little things I try to do on a daily basis to improve the lives of those I encounter.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
The following pictures were taken by my friend Alex. I think sometimes my blog is a little shy of pictures of me, so here you go. Enjoy!
The hike to Gocta.
Maybe the best picture of me yet in Peru. It shows just how much funI was having.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Yes, I live here. Don't hate.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
A private moment for Mama Antu.
My Tia Rosa in front of Javier's grave.
I wish we took things like this more seriously. I really think that this is a celebration of life and way of remembering those that have passed. I think I'll start to take Memorial Day more seriously. I know it's supposed to be about our troops, but I think we should remember all life and what our ancestors have given to us, plus the lessons we have learned thanks to them.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The first three months you are saturated with other US citizens, now effectively known as your training class. You learn together, party together, and stress out together. This, for many, is the best opportunity to hook up with another Peace Corps volunteer. There are always attractive parties in any given training class, but obviously like most relationships people connect because of their backgrounds and beliefs. And we’re all thrown together in this crazy experience, so we’re bonded. I have heard RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) say that they were hugely tied to their training class. I’ve met my share of people who met in Peace Corps and got married. Peru-9 hasn’t had many couplings (less than any other training class in Peru), and the ones that are starting to come out of the wood work have taken a long time to mature. I think part of the hold-up is that you could fall for someone in training and then be sent to the other side of this big country for your site assignment. And that is what has happened to others. I know couples that are only “together” when they are physically in the same place. Others have broken up at the end of training. Others just haven’t dated knowing that they would be separated by hundreds of miles of geography. And still others get together in training, break up at the end of training, but end up back together when they get to their sites; no matter how far away those sites happen to lie.
A few do actually manage to start relationships with volunteers in the field. I can’t think of many, if any, relationships across numbers (i.e. an 8-er with a 10-er), but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened and I just don’t know. I do know that once you get to your capital cities eager to start your “official” service, and then you go to your site which is incredibly isolated and lonely, you do start to see the other volunteers in your department through different eyes. I have seen this in my friendships. People that I was barely friends with in training have become some of my best friends based purely off of geography and who I could trust to be in the capital city at the same time I happen to be with a shoulder to cry on or enough soles to split a beer and a pizza (not like in the States – the pizza, that is). People tend to change when they get to site. How can you not when you’re faced with poverty and a life you have never known? And so sometimes volunteers start to meld together, they start to understand each other and develop relationships, again, based on their new background and beliefs. I have not been fortunate to have a relationship like this. I adore the male volunteers in my group, and they’ve become friends and more often than not, obnoxious little brothers – who I love and adore.
I have gone on a few dates with Peruvians. Now the stereotype of Peruvian men (maybe latino men in general) is that they are all machismos, very likely to cheat on their spouses or girlfriends, and who think that being with a gringa (light skinned, light eyes) is another notch on their belt. In other words, we are warned very early to be careful of dating Peruvian men. I’d like to think I’m a good judge of character and that (from time to time) I can see someone’s potential when no one else sees it. At least that’s what my mom always tells me. So I have had the distinct privilege of dating at least three really great Peruvian guys. They have all been very kind, sweet, and just the right amount of romantic (I’m not overly appreciative of romance in general, but I appreciate a guy who “gets me”). They also have a way of helping me with my Spanish. I always learn new vocabulary when I go on dates or meet a guy in a club (or outside one as one of my stories goes).
It would be interesting to do a comparison, but I’m pretty sure that more female PCVs marry Peruvians than male. Recently, I heard about two female Peru-8ers that have gotten engaged. I think another complication of the US Citizen-Peruvian relationship is the where do you live and how do you get them into the United States or find work outside of Peace Corps in Peru. I have heard that it can cost upwards of $2000 to get a Visa to get your Peruvian significant other into the States (and that’s before the plane ticket). This has been a major hold up for me as I’m afraid I’ll be the gringa notch on the belt that then proceeds to help him escape from his life in Peru so he can go the States and leave me. I’ve heard plenty of these kinds of stories as well. Although, I haven’t heard it happen to a Peace Corps Volunteer. Plus, once you get them into the States to start your life together (let’s imagine this is a good guy) then you have to deal with the racism, the looks your significant other would get while trying to learn a new language, and the cultural differences. How would a Peruvian male feel about a wife who could make more money than he does? Do you help said spouse get other family members into the States? Do you continually hope that one day his/her English will get to a place where they can go to school and get a college degree? All these and so many more questions need to get answered before a final decision is made. A number of volunteers have had serious relationships in PC knowing full well that they will break up and leave the significant other behind. This might sound harsher than it really is, but sometimes relationships are unavoidable as is the oncoming break-up.
This, of course, has back-fired from time to time. As relationships with Peruvians in site have caused major drama whether the young lady has said that the PC volunteer is the father of her child or just the gossip that comes with a break up, especially of the local PC celebrity in the community. It can be so extreme that PCVs are removed from their sites or have to deal with incredibly messy break-up situations (like attempted suicides or threats of arson from significant others’ parents). Relationships are always complicated, and I guess we should never enter into them lightly, but in Peru we tread even more cautiously. I currently, am not seeing anyone, but I do still have nine months, and anything can happen (but maybe this statement effectively jinxed it.) I’ll report if there’s anything to tell. I hope all five of you are doing well. You are missed.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
6:00am I wake up. Everyday, no matter what, I'm usually up by this time. Then I usually listen to some music or a podcast or I do a bunch of reading. I try not to do anything before 8 not because I'm not up but because I want some quiet morning time to start my day.
8:00am (this varies) but usually around 8 my host mother calls me to have breakfast which is usually bread and avocado, but sometimes egg. I've tried to adopt a vegan lifestyle as much as possible (I'm really bad at it right now). Lately, I've been buying enough avocado to have a half every morning and to give the rest to my host sisters. This is usually when Mama Antu (my host grandmother) makes her first visit, greeting me with "Buenos Dias Adriana." Even though we remind her, she never seems to remember that there is no 'd' in my name. She usually asks me some kind of health tip; today she wants to know what vitamins she she should buy to get better - she's had a sore throat for weeks. I tell her that she really should be eating her vitamins, and that Vitamin C and E are what she wants and she can find that in oranges, mandarines, and carrots but she complains that they are cold and she shouldn't eat them because they're "cold". Side note: there are a lot of beliefs here that "cold" water and food cause illness. First, if they ever realized that it's not that "cold" and that it doesn't cause sickness, I don't know what they would do - mabe start eating more vegetables. But who am I to argue, I've never seen the studies to know that they are wrong. Regardless, I try to convince Mama Antu that she needs to eat more oranges and mandarins. We'll see.
8:30am - I'm usually headed to the school to teach Quien Soy Yo or a Values Class or something of the sort. Lately on Mondays I've been teaching Gender classes at 8:00am.
10:30/1:30- I head to the health post (on some days) to see if I can meet up with anyone. They have been so busy there lately, I feel more like a nuisance. So I'm hoping that I can find time to work with them after October. Maybe during the summer vacations from school, we'll see.
1:00 - I eat lunch with my family. It's usually rice and beans or something of the sort.
2:00 - I retire to my room to plan lessons, read books or magazines, listen to podcasts (my latest favorite NPR's "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!" (Thanks for the rec. Julie), watch a TV show or two.
4:00 - I usually do a half an hour of yoga.
5:30 - I head down to the municipality to teach a two hour computer class (this happens Mondays and Thursdays right now, but we'll see if it expands)
8:00 - I return to eat dinner at my house. This will usually be the first time in the day that I will see my host father. Also, we watch a Mexican Soap Opera called "Victoria" and 9:00pm Megali starts (a Peruvian gossip show that I can't stand - but more on this in a sec.) So around this time I retire to my room to plan lessons, read books or magazines, listen to a podcast, or watch a TV show or movie or maybe listen to music.
10:00pm - I'm usually hitting the hay or going to sleep.
So, that more or less is my day. Sometimes I have more classes and meetings and some days I have nothing. Some days I walk all the way to the school, health post, or city hall only to have to return because my meeting or class has been canceled.
As for Megali, think the TV show "Extra" combined with a show like "Ellen" (I say that only because Megali likes to dance in the opening as well - "Ellen" is a much better show in my opinion). Megali Medina is one of the biggest celebrities in Peru. She reports on all the gossip, but she also is homophobic and the show is kind of in bad taste in general. That being said, Megali was arrested about a week ago which I personally believe is an injustice. Now don't quote me on this, but the Peruvian law structure is very similar to ours and I think that Megali was in her rights even if what she did wasn't for the best of motives. She was arrested last week for taking pictures of a famous Peruvian Futballer (Soccer player) on the sidewalk in Miraflores (which is a really nice part of Lima) with a model. She has evidence that they were together, kissing and hugging. And she got arrested because that soccer player brought chargers against her. Now, I don't support the paparazzi or anything, but from my Journalism law classes (and if the Peruvian law structure is as similar as I think it is) she took the pictures from the sidewalk, and he was doing it in public - which means he has absolutely no grounds to have her arrested or sued. Anyway, we'll see what happens with Megali in the next couple of weeks as she fights for her freedom. But in truth most people believe a huge injustice has happened here and there is a huge abuse of power. I think someone recently told me that they think that government wants her arrested so she'll stop reporting on their private lives as well. What do they have to hide? And like I said earlier, I don't support her, nor am I a big fan of her program, but this is obviously an abuse of power.
That's just the local news.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Jamar and Jah playing props as Peruvian Cumbia Singers in a Music Video.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I'll post more on this in my next post when I have pictures and can explain all that we were doing.
But I also wanted to send a big shout out once again to the Olathe Northwest Students from Olathe, Kansas. I'll be responding to your email within the next week. Keep up the hard work, learning Spanish is so worth it, as is travelling to other countries and seeing the world! I highly recommend it. More news to come!
Monday, September 15, 2008
In the United States we don't really ever think about this. My generation has been practically raised on self-esteem and self-discovery, but it's easy to see the effects that a low self-esteem can have on children or their country. I know that might sound dramatic, but really believe that working with young people and their parents to raise self-esteem would help drop the statistics on alcoholism, familial violence, and poverty. Having a healthy self-esteem not only makes you more confident in yourself but in your ideas and your ability to carry them out. Their is a lot of idea stealing in Peru. If one business sprouts up that is successful, in a matter of weeks you will see five more just like it and right next door. Yet, Peru is country rich in resources and the people I have met have the most untapped potential.
These are the two teachers that I work with. The top picture is of Prof. Blanca and the bottom is Prof. Rosa. They're great teachers. I'm very impressed with their professionalism and desire to work with me. Plus, their students are pretty well-behaved.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
In this new time of massive globalization I can't really walk down any street in Peru without being asked about the United States elections, and even more specifically I'm often asked about Barak Obama which I think demonstrates that the world is watching us during this election, and people from other parts of the world find Obama intriguing and his nomination as ground breaking and interesting. People rarely ask me about McCain. Sometimes I'm asked about Bush, but more and more people want to know about Obama and if I'll be voting for him. We're not supposed to take a political side being PCVs, and I'm pretty private about that kind of thing anyway. But it has helped me develop some more political vocabulary. And it's a topic that opens up doors to hear their opinions on their own President (Alan Garcia for those of you not paying attention), the Free Trade Agreement between the US and Peru, and their ideas and thoughts about the US. Sometimes where I live, people are a little closed off from stating their opinions and critical thinking isn't really taught in schools here. So I enjoy when my friends or students or co-workers (non-PCVs - because they have no problem stating their opinions) in Jangas talk about their thoughts.
In other news, I have been doing exceptionally well lately. I have been working on my Work Plan for the next four months and the truth is, I'm overwhelmed. I have so many potential projects, all of them are something I'm looking forward to working on, but it's a question of time and whether or not my community partners are excited on working on them. One of my newest frustrations is that I'll set a meeting, show up to meet, and then have to set another meeting because either everyone forgot or are busy or in another activity. So with a few organizations I have had multiple meetings to try to create new projects and activities. It's kind of crazy, but asi es la vida. In the grand scheme, it's such a minor frustration.
More to come...with pictures. I couldn't upload them today.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I am so thankful to be in Ancash. I now have a great and supportive family. They have been beyond kind to me, and they are always ready to share a laugh or at least a smile. Every night at around 6pm, I go to the kitchen to watch and help my host mom cook dinner. At around 8pm, my host sisters roll in from school, and shortly after my host dad drives his combi into the yard, and we eat and watch a Mexican telenovela called “Victoria.” I’m glad that my Spanish is starting to improve because I can actually follow the story-lines. That and I can communicate slightly better with my host family and the people I want to work with. I have a long way to go with my Spanish, but I sure have come a long way from where I started.
In this past year I have learned a lot about Peruvian culture and myself. Here’s a brief list of the things I have learned:
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times – Catilluc and the nine months of growth through challenge has taught me that I can survive anything. But more importantly, I have learned to hold on in bad situations.
Peace Corps makes strange bedfellows – I have become friends with people that I probably wouldn’t have given a second thought to in the United States. This has therefore helped me learn more about myself and open up my mind to new ideas and opinions.
You can poorly speak two languages – my Spanish is no where close to where I need it to be, but now I’m losing my English. Add a little Quechua to the mix, and well…I can barely communicate.
Friends and family back at home are so important – I always knew this, but I have received more support and encouragement from those who have known me and love me than I have at times from PC staff or other Volunteers, although both are supportive in their own right and own ways.
I have danced cumbia, huayno, salsa, meringue, and other dances…very well.
I have seen Huascaran, the second largest mountain in the Americas.
And maybe most importantly, I have lived, laughed, loved, cried, and survived…maybe even thrived here in Peru.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Me and Jake at Llanganuco. Isn't it beautiful? By the way, before you all email me - we're just friends.
I have since seen the trainees, and as of yesterday, they have been sworn in and are now officially volunteers. They had their big ceremony yesterday. Congrats you guys! I have so enjoyed getting to know you.
And now onto other topics.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I left off with us still in Caraz…
All 14 trainees, 2 volunteers (Vishal and myself), plus the two trainers left Caraz early Wednesday morning to Carhuaz and then we all caught a combi to Shilla, Vishal’s site. A quick note about Vishal: He’s one of my good friends from training. We had the same language class together and we both lived in Yanacoto. So it’s been cool to move to Ancash and to be nearer to him and to Frank, both of whom I rank as really good friends. Shilla is a very small town of around 1,000 people who still speak a lot of Quechua. He has the most amazing view of Huascaran, and the people there are very friendly. They all greeted us as their donkeys passed by carrying food for the guinea pigs. The trainees didn’t get much time to settle in; they quickly threw their stuff down in Vishal’s house and headed directly to the colegio. The night before, as the trainees were planning, they made the decision to split up into two teaching groups based on language ability and those that had the courage to discuss sexuality with a group of 16 and 17 year olds that they didn’t know.
The lower level Spanish speakers taught a Nutrition class, and they did a really good job. They had a great class planned with activities that had the children moving, running, and learning about the four food groups. They used a house as a metaphor for the importance of the food groups, and they had a “check for learning activity” where the children had to find the foods scattered outside and come back to their groups to place their food in the proper place in the food pyramid. The kids really seemed to enjoy this activity. I was impressed with the activities this group chose, and I plan on stealing a few and using them with the kids here. The advanced speakers had the difficult task of giving a charla on sexuality. They used magazines to talk about the images used to portray sexuality. They then talked a little about a definition of sexuality, and then they answered what questions they could about things related to sex and sexuality. This was really just a starter class getting the students amped to work with Vishal more in depth on this particular topic. With this group, I was impressed with their courage to tackle this topic especially in a mountain community – which are known to be a little bit more conservative and closed.
After both groups finished teaching, we settled into the hostel where we ate some lunch and the trainees enjoyed the rabbits hanging out in a lofted caged area. After lunch, Vishal lead us on a hike just outside of Shilla. It was a really beautiful hike with a gorgeous view of the surrounding area and of course Huascaran was just in your face. Maybe the best part is that I spent the entire hike with Isa, the tech trainer (who was one of our language trainers), and we talked about a lot of different things from how training was going to what I would be doing in the future. I really got to know Isa well on the hike, and she tried to talk me into becoming a trainer in the future. The truth is, I would love to, but it all depends on how it all ends here and what I do in the year after I finish. When we returned from the hike, the trainees wrote their first solicitudes (these are important, bureaucratic documents that really are a pain in the ass of any volunteer – they help you get things). They also planned their sessions for the next day. Later that night we ate dinner with Vishal’s family, and many of the volunteers ate their first cuy. The trainees returned and went to bed, and many of them passed a sleepless night because of the cold Ancash night.
The next morning they got up early, ate breakfast, and we headed to Jangas. The trip was very quick and the trainees got settled into their third and final hostel while I headed into Jangas to arrange some last minute details. We re-met around 9:00am and the trainees got to know the colegio where I work. They also got to meet some of my favorite teachers, and they also got their first bump in the road.
I wanted to give them a real-to-life volunteer experience (which means that something would fall through or everything would change) and that’s exactly what we got. Within the first few minutes that we got there, we discovered that the Director of the school needed to change the times for the culminating field day event as the students were preparing for a parade; also, she decided that instead of a few classes doing the field day event on Friday, the whole colegio would participate. This would mean that this group of trainees would work with 200 kids within a two hour period. Luckily, they still had a day to figure it out, but that’s truly what happens. I will often walk in to a class to do one thing and end up needing to prepare myself for something else. Or even more commonly, I get used to having to put off a class because the kids are preparing for a parade.
Even while working through the administrative details for the next day, they still had a class they had to teach. Again they broke up into groups based on Spanish language ability and they taught classes on self-esteem. When they finished with those classes, one of my counterparts (Professora Elba) and I gave them an opportunity to improve their lessons and give the same one again to another class. Both groups took the opportunity and improved their first classes a little bit. I was very proud of them for accepting the challenge, and I know it was a great experience for the students as well.
The rest of that day they either planned for their field day or we took a tour of Jangas. My counterpart, Milton, and some of the youth from the association took them around Jangas and into the Cordiellera Negra to see the view of the Callajon de Hualas. I really enjoyed this part of the trip as I felt like I needed breaks throughout the day from planning and organizing. Plus, it gave me more of an opportunity to get to know the trainees on an individual basis. This has become so long and boring, I think I need to write a Part IV. So forgive me, I’m going to have to post again another day to finish the last two days. I’m somewhat backed up on blogs. I have more things to talk about than I have time to post. More to come!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
As you might or might not remember the first 11 weeks are only training for PCT (Peace Corps Trainees). It is a time to improve your language skills, get a better understanding of your host culture, and to get to know the people who will be spending the next two years and three months with you. Around week six the trainees are sent to different locations around Peru to get their first taste of life as an actual Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV). Because as hard as they might try in training, and as close as they get with the resources they have, there is still a huge gap between what life is like in training and what life is like as an actual PCV. So each training round APCD’s call up groups of volunteers and ask them to prepare a week for a given number of trainees. I received this call the weeks before I left Catilluc.
Monday, July 14th, 10 Youth Development PCTs with one Technical trainer and one Language and Culture trainer arrived in Huaraz tired (from the long and sleepless overnight bus ride), but eager to spend a week outside of Lima walking in the shoes of current PCVs. We immediately exposed them to the 9,000(+) feet difference in altitude to walk to the combi stop that has combis heading to Caraz. It was the first test of whether or not they would hold up to the high altitudes where they would be staying for the next week. In Caraz, they met Frank, a PCV from my training group, he immediately gave them a small, two-hour community analysis for them to go into the community and learn about Caraz and what opportunities there are to do Youth based work based off of information obtained in the community from citizens themselves. This is one of the first small glimpses PCTs receive before entering their communities to do their own community diagnostic.
After lunch, they heard a few words from Frank’s counterpart and a number of the PCVs in Ancash came to do a Volunteer panel. I’m not sure how helpful that particular panel went. A volunteer panel includes volunteers sitting before the trainees fielding any and all questions about PC life. I felt like it was one of the weaker aspects of the week. But if they learned just a little bit then that is a good thing. Also, it gave them a chance to meet some of the Health, Small Business, and Environmental Volunteers.
We put them to work right away. Monday night they discovered that the PCTs would be dividing into two groups and would be teaching a hand washing charla to second graders the next day. The divided up and worked together to plan what elements they would use to teach kids to wash their hands, a big problem in Peru and other developing nations…and sometimes even that person who walks out of the public restroom without washing his/her hands. You all know what I’m talking about. Anyway, they spent a couple hours working on their lessons for the next day and finally got some much sleep that night.
At this time I think it’s important to talk about this group of Trainees and how impressed I was with them. Here in Ancash, we received three male and seven female trainees. In the group, there isn’t one bad one amongst them. I was so pleased at how hard they all worked, and how excited they all are to be here and to get started. And still they are very appreciative of the training they are receiving. At this point a year ago, I was so sick of training and so ready to be a volunteer. But these PCTs all spoke about how they are enjoying training and can’t wait to go back and learn. They also loved the beauty of Ancash and seemed to enjoy their FBT. I can’t even say that there were standouts. At different points throughout the week I felt that each of them stepped up to take over a class or to do something impressive outside of the classes or our interactions with each other. I did have a strong connection with Leanna. She became a friend that I hope to maintain throughout the years. We had so much in common from our love of movies to our understanding of development work. I was impressed with her drive to improve her Spanish, and she motivated me to work on my Spanish again. There have been very few Volunteers that I have had an instant connection with, and I’m really hoping that she gets placed in Ancash so we can go hiking, camping, and get our nails done together (yes, I still have my girly moments).
On Tuesday we stayed in Caraz, one to allow the PCTs to give their charla in one of Frank’s schools, but also to give them more time to plan for their next day in Shilla with PCV Vishal (also from my training group). One day I’ll get a picture up of these all-stars so you can see them for yourselves. Tuesday night we also had a great little barbeque. It was nice to get some casual time with the PCTs to get to know them better, as well as to give them a few minutes throughout the week to chill and not think about working with children. Well, as you might be able to tell, I spent last week with the PCTs so I didn’t do anything at site. I need to plan some lessons so part II will come in a few more days.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The Young Adult assosciation in Jangas surprised me with roses. They like me! They really like me!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
The good news is that Peru 11 will be here on Monday, and I'm very excited to get to know them better and to get to see them in action. Of course, I'm stressed out bcause I've only been here for a couple of months and I'm going to be introducing these trainees to classes I have yet to work with. It's a lot of work to put together a week of FBT, but more than that, I feel like my FBT was really strong. So I of course, want to help these guys have a good FBT as well.
Wish me luck! More to come!
Monday, June 30, 2008
With that said, I'll be heading home tomorrow. I'm excited to return. Now that I love my site, I don't like being away for very long. So I'll return on Wednesday.
Our WID/GAaD time was really productive. It will be sad to say good-bye to our Peru 7 members, but I think we'll have a good crew for our future endeavors. The training with Peru 11 went very well. They are a very positive and energetic group. They took the workshop very seriously, and I hope they had as much fun as I did. I look forward to working with them in the field.
It's always really great to get to meet the newbies, although it always signals that we're losing another group. Many in Peru 7 C.O.S. (close of service) August 2nd which means that I'll get to say good-bye to them before they go, but talk about a good group. They will definitely be missed, unless they're taking a third year. And then there are still more memories to be made. Peru 7 showed us the ins and outs of this country and what it means to be a Peace Corps volunteer. They took us to the good restaurants, told us which hostels give PC discounts, and danced the night away with us in the local discoteques. But, I don't want to say good-bye, to those seveners that will be leaving us, too early. I still have a month with a few of them.
But again my time in Lima is coming to a close, and for the first time since I started my service. I can't wait to leave Lima and return to my "home". That's nice. I think it shows that I finally love my job.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I also am having a wisdom tooth problem. My upper right has decided to grow in with a vengeance (I know, I know you're asking yourself - "at her age!") but regardless it's the most painful wisdom tooth I've had to date. I'm not sure if Peace Corps will pull it or not, that decision lies in the hands of some dentist who reviews cases like mine in Washington. I could of course always just go to a dentist here to pull it without PC permission, but I doubt I would take that kind of risk. My former host mom in Catilluc had tooth pain, went in and pulled one, and then lost six more or something. She's 29 and doesn't have any of her upper front teeth. Not a good option.
I head to Lima this week. I'll be going to training (Peru 11 is here) with WID/GAAD (Women in Development/Gender Analysis and Development) to talk about gender specific issues that we face as volunteers here in Peru. I'll report more on it when I get to Lima on Thursday.
All in all, things are still good. I've started teaching self-esteem charlas to 4th graders, and they now all stop me on the street or in the school to greet me or give me a kiss on the cheek (a common greeting in Latin America). It's nice to be appreciated. PC has also sent some seeds to help start my single mother's garden project. Now, if only I could get the regiadores on board with me, but they've been busy travelling lately. I'm also trying to get tutoria up and running, so I can start teaching values and other important themes in the secondary school. I can't seem to get the teachers on board with me in this project, which has been slightly discouraging. But that's normal. I'll resume my efforts on this when I return from Lima.
So, just a quick update. I'll post more pictures soon. Take care!
Sunday, June 15, 2008
This is the Plaza de armas en Carhuaz which is just north of my site. I've been very impressed with Ancash's Plazas and Catholic churches. Even with the destruction caused by the 1970's earthquake they've managed to really create some cool architectural stuff in their towns and cities. Huaraz might be the only exception, but it still has some cool stuff going on here as well. The plaza fountain does a color show at night.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
There was an Parade to Raise Awareness about the Environment. It was really cool to see all of the kids in their traditional dress and signs in Quechua.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
My host father, Julio, remembers the earthquake well. He was seven years old. He told me that he was sweeping the floor of his house, while his older brother was cleaning dishes, and his younger two-year old brother was playing nearby. Julio said it started as loud sound, and then the earth started to rock, then shake, and finally the ground would open up and then close again. He and his three brothers ran outside to an area where there weren’t any trees or walls that would fall on them, and they watched the walls of the mud houses around them tumble a little bit. But thankfully because the strong structure of the adobe houses, there wasn’t much devastation in Jangas. Julio told me that very few died here. Huaraz on the other hand looked like a wrecking ball had gotten loose. I recently saw an amateur video taken of the carnage; there were walls, windows, and dead bodies everywhere. Yunguy was nothing but a mud slab.
I recently visited Old Yunguy which is now a National Park. It is a flower garden with a few memories of what was left after the earthquake finished. The only thing that survived intact was a white statue of Jesus that was located in the Plaza de Armas. That statue currently resides over the cemetery looking out over the expanse that was the former Yunguy.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
My new bed in my new bedroom in Jangas.
Last night my counterpart called and said that one of the Regiadors (advisers, city council member type-people) would like me to teach a class on Parenting. It's pretty cool when they are asking you to teach classes that you hadn't really thought about yet. So I'll meet with him tonight to see if I can be of some kind of service in this area. More and more projects, more and more opportunities.
Of course, I still need to work on my Community Diagnostic Study, which will help me understand and learn more about the community where I know live and work. I guess that will happen when it happens.
More pictures and stories to come.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
To the left of that hill in the background is Huascaran, but this wasn't a very clear day. I hope to go out in the next couple of weeks and get a good shot. It's really beautiful here right now. It's bright, sunny days and lately it's been clear enough to see Huascaran, although I think I need to go down the road a little to get a good picture.
My first meeting with my primary project is tonight. I'll be watching another volunteer give a talk on business, which I am very excited to learn about as well as meet the other members of the Young Adult Association. After Ryan (the volunteer teaching tonight) finishes with his classes we're going to move into learning traditional dances. And after we're going to do some environmental projects.