Monthly Archives: July 2012

an unrelated note.

but entirely related to me at this moment. i am going to miss my current host family so much. i know that i will see them again when i visit with mike in december, but they have been so patient and supportive. i missed them even while i was just gone for a week at fbt. i received delightful facebook messages from my sister, norma, which only made my heart grow fonder.

i love this picture of my mom.

i have the best host mom, who not only exhibited patience, but also a nurturing hand when i had the world’s worst sinus infection and when i was most recently sick to my stomach. she also waits up for me when i am out late, and watches me walk down the street when i leave for training in the morning. she readily gives her living space for me to have haphazard youth group meetings, and even buys inca kola as a refreshment for the kids. she knows that i have a love for palta and reminds me each week that they are available at the market.

mi mama y yo (i feel/look so tall next to her).

needless to say, i have the world’s best host family. seriously, there is no beating them. it’s not possible.


victor y yo.

youth group.

this has been a trial and error youth group, as we have been trying to have youth group meetings for more than three weeks, but each time is to no avail. it is great preparation for the field i am sure. i detailed the other week about the struggles i was having in working with a local school and then in trying to start the group in my neighborhood, which really made this even all the more poetic and comical.

my group and one other group opted to combo our groups, as we both have encountered the same challenges. we decided to have the group at my house and we were to each bring at least one sibling, which would guarantee at least 6 kids. however, there has been something going around lately, and the only sibling that could make it is my 8-year-old brother victor.

victor. the best brother and the best sport on the planet.

we couldn’t help but laugh at our situation. i mean, it really could not have been any other way. it was too fitting. here was six girls ready to teach at a minimum six kids, and we only had one. i started the group, as the other girls left to scour the streets of huascaran to see if they could entice others to join, but apparently parents in peru teach their kids about not entering the houses of strangers too. however, two of the neighbor kids were later recruited after much diligent effort, but 2/3 of this youth group meeting was solely with victor.

i read “where the wild things are” in spanish. i recently acquired the movie in spanish, so victor and i are going to watch it on friday together.

kg and victor and the two other recruits working feverishly on their life maps.

victor loves to draw, and he is incredibly talented.

he is always the happiest when he is working on art projects.

victor and aaron.

pocual working on his life map.

the boys with their life maps.

after the life maps, we explained to them about our tree of life and how the roots are of important words, idea, people and places that have helped them become who they are now. i think at this point it is important to note that we were originally supposed to be having these clubs in a secondary school and be working with at least 30 kids, which this whole presentation is aimed for, but we tried our best to explain and adapt it for these kids’/victor’s understanding.

our huge tree trunk with our five tree roots.

the boys’ roots.

after kg and i finished our meeting, the other girls took the time to do their group, which was aimed at the same age group as ours, so they also had to make some minor changes to refocus. at this point it was only victor again.

victor getting all the attention.

however, he is 8-years-old and only has so much of an attention span.

victor giving very apparent social cues.

but really. though there was only my brother in attendance, we had the group still, which is the point of it all. and also, it has left me with plenty of laughs.

site placement.

this week, probably one of the most important events occurred during my training (with the exception of my swearing into the peace corps in august). i received my site placement. up until this point i only knew that i was going to be placed on the coast, though even that could have changed.

on monday, i went to the surco training center and met many staff members, as well as had interviews with the country director and the assistant director for my program. during my interview with the assistant director, we discussed my fbt, and i voiced that felt the least comfortable when we visited the smaller sites (around 1,000 people). she then told me that i should keep an open mind and that they were confident that i would be happy no matter where i was placed. i, of course, took this as “i suppose i should be prepared to go to a small site.” that night, i even had a dream that i received my site placement and i received a site that only had 58 people, which is not even a real possibility here. so really, i began tuesday thinking there was no way but up in regards to site placement.

kendra, meghan, me, carlhey and nydelis all anxiously awaiting the receipt of our assignments.

all morning, all the volunteers and i eagerly checked our watches until it was 1pm. at one, pretty much all of the peace corps staff arrived, and we were instructed to line up and when they counted down to “one.” we were all supposed to run where they had hung envelopes with our names on them.

how they hung the envelopes. our names were on the opposite side that was facing us and in no particular order.

everyone rushing towards their envelope.

everyone trying to find their department.

once we found our envelope with our name inside, we found a puzzle piece which was color coordinated by department. so the first step was to learn who in our training group is going to your department. then we all rushed to a table to anxiously figure out what department our puzzle created, so we could learn which department we were headed to.

working on our puzzle.

we then quickly and excitedly learned that we were headed to LAMBAYEQUE!!! lambayeque is just north of la libertad, and it’s capitol city, chiclayo, is only about a 12 hour bus ride from lima. lambayeque has a lot of biodiversity: the beach, the sierra, ancient ruins, and even includes an ecological reserve with indigenous species found nowhere else in the country or world (including the cutiepatootie spotted bear…google it, you won’t regret it).

my group and i jumped up and down in excitement and then went to meet our regional coordinator (the person who oversees our region, in particularly helps set up sites, housing and socios) and learn more about our actual site placement.

the peru 19 lambayeque crew with our regional coordinator (me, ali, steven, sam, Kimberly, betty, michelle, kyle and casey).

a map of lambayque and where all of the volunteers are located.

we then received folders with our name and our actual site placement.

my folder.

i am headed to túcume, which has a population of 20,600 people (this is on the larger site end of the spectrum). túcume is nicknamed as the “valley of the pyramids” as there are more than 26 precolonial pyramids. i get the best of both worlds, as i am only a 45 minute combi ride from chiclayo and probably about an hour from the beach but i am in a valley near the mountains/foothills. i am ecstatic.

i am a nerd and took a picture of the powerpoint slide of my site. but seriously, look at how rad those pyramids are. my new (future) home.

my name is on the map! there is a small business volunteer in a neighboring site from peru 17, which arrived one year ago. it is rumored that he is only 15-20 minutes from me.

i am really excited about the group of from training class that is headed to lambayeque. especially that my good friend, casey, will be just about 30 minutes or so from me.

my site has had two previous volunteers, but both have been with small business. i am the first youth development volunteer to arrive, and their last volunteer left a year ago. it will be interesting to see what programs are still continuing and what additional work there is to do. the advantage of coming in as a replacement, yet new for my program volunteer, is that many of the leaders in the community are used to working with a peace corps volunteer, and you have programs that you can already start to work with. this can help in integrating into the community as well as keep me busy during my first three months while i work on my community diagnostic.


me with my site placement. (npp, check out those nails).

i have received limited information on my host family, but i am so excited to meet them in just a couple of weeks. honestly, this just makes me all the more excited about the next two years. everything is becoming more real and more tangible everyday. túcume, lambayeque here i come!!!!!


street art.

let me just start out with this: good morning mike!

but really, i have been nonstop impressed with the street art that i have seen everywhere, but i found it to be more prominent on the coast. here are some of my favorite shots from throughout the week.
















we spent saturday afternoon at a big tourist beach, which had incredible waves. it left me wishing i had packed my swimsuit.

kallan and brian dining on ceviche on the beache.

a dilapidated seawall.

i spent a lot of time just sitting on the beach. i took a brief break to get a pineapple & maracuya juice. but then it was back to the beach.

there were tons of jellyfish at the beach. kallan and brittany both braved the water and also both got stung.

colorful streets.

dr. suess trees.

sunset on the beach.

the entire yd fbt crew + hosts + facilitators.










we spent friday afternoon in chichlin. we helped facilitate an english class for english teachers. it was a lot of fun. i bonded with many of the adults, and it reasserted to me that my best age group is on the older end of the age spectrum. needless to say, a lot of laughs were shared amongst everyone in the class.

a dog cooling off in the shade at the school.


puerto malabrigo.

la plaza de armas en puerto malabrigo.

we spent friday morning in puerto mlabrigo, which was the site of a volunteer that just completed service earlier in the week. another youth volunteer will replace the previous one (a site of about 5,000). i wish it was going to be me, but alas, a male volunteer has been requested. in this site, the volunteer literally lives on the beach and their main socio is with a surf school. talk about a rough two-years…

we spent the morning there to participate in a program called “red ambiente,” which is supposed to help promote youth leadership. we sat through two presentations, one of which was on la pesete (the plague). supposedly it is still a problem in that province, with most reported cases in peru being from their region. afterwards i facilitated a short game on how to synthesize the presentation and take the information back to their community.

then we just spent a short bit at the beach.



we spent two days in guadalupe visiting a volunteer, whose site had about 30,000 people.

the municipality at the plaza de armas.

taxidermy at a local lunch spot.

it was about a 30 minute combi ride from pacasmayo. the first day i sat on the back bench of the combi and quickly learned that was the worst possible place to sit. i found myself sitting on the engine and, quite literally, had the exhaust smoke blowing out beneath my legs. my nostrils and my lungs stung. needless to say, the next morning i grabbed a seat in the front.

my morning combi ride.

i taught at a more rural primary school, just out of town. it was a two room school house and between the two days, i taught four classes: hand washing, teeth brushing, friendship and virtues. the municipality was nice to give us a lift out to the school, but we all had to fit in one truck, which meant we had to ride in the back…which i love to do anyhow.

carlhey, me, evan (our pcvc) and brian (the la libertad pcvl) riding in the back of the police truck.

pretending we live a hard-knock life.

the youngest of the primary classes.

showing off the glitter on their hands and ready to learn to wash their hands.

saw this in the older class. an anatomically correct lion. details. details.

two of the students ready to bike home with a rice field behind them.

at the end of our first day, we went to a special needs school that the volunteer works at as well. we worked with young adults with special needs, showing them how to make a picture frame and also painting a map of peru on the school walls. it was a blast.


the whole crew (volunteers + students) with our finished map.

our last afternoon in guadalupe, the municipality set up a nice lunch for us at the house of a local artist. we had lunch in his garden which was quite beautiful.


where we dined.

he concluded lunch by sharing some of his original poetry. it was beautiful. he also showed us some of his paintings as well. to top it off, he had six-week-old kittens. needless to saw our hearts were overjoyed that afternoon.

kittens for cat.

kittens. kittens. kittens.

also, i saw this really awesome spider:

does anyone know what kind of spider this is?


we stayed a couple of evenings in a great little surf town in pacasmayo.

it was a nice little surf hostel.

it was so green, and had hammocks and even a trampoline!

casey taking a much needed nap in the hammock at the hostel.

this is the closest i have gotten to machu picchu. at a surf hostel on the other side of the country.

great, colorful fishing boats filled the beaches.

the beach at sunset.

this dog and i became the best of friends over those couple of days.

every town seems to have some type of statue at the top of a hill. pacasmayo has jesus (which is more common than not).








san pedro.

on tuesday, we visited another volunteer who lived in much larger site (around 17,000). we taught nutrition charlas at an all girl school. the girls were a lot of fun, and just loved to laugh.

plaza de armas.

the girls practicing their marches for the fiestas patrias this week.

working on creating their plate of food.

the food pyramid and a group’s plate of food.

all the volunteers with the girls.

viva el peru.






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