Thursday, July 24, 2008

FBT Training - BLOG # 2

For a while there it felt like I had nothing to talk about, and now all of the sudden there is a flurry of activity in my Peace Corps service that I want to report about on this blog. I’ll try to divide all of these new topics up into different blog entries in order to give you bite size chunks in the place of one long rant. But let’s start with Field Based Training Peru 11.
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.


Mardy said...

Hey...I read this blog the day after you posted it...but didn't have a chance to comment until now. Wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday and say that I loved hearing about the training...can't wait for the next episode.


Rebekah said...

Happy Birthday ( always in my life!), Ari! We hope it was excellent! Sorry I've been slack about commenting on your blog, but I am reading and appreciate the updates!