Category Archives: community diagnostic

a little bit of everything.

oh hi! long time no see! what have i been up to lately? well, that is a great question, indeed!

let’s see…

my environmental arts group ended. this is everyone with all their projects they completed.

my environmental arts group ended. this is everyone with all their projects they completed.

this is my part of my world map painting group waiting for my socio to show up with the needed projector, and who didn't show up for the second day in a row...

this is my part of my world map painting group waiting for my socio to show up with the needed projector, and who didn’t show up for the second day in a row…

third time is a charm. after waiting for 2 hours on the third day, he finally showed. we had a blast drawing the map.

third time is a charm. after waiting for 2 hours on the third day, he finally showed. we had a blast drawing the map.

between my day planner and the random plastic bag i found in my bag, it was a pretty sturdy setup....

between my day planner and the random plastic bag i found in my bag, it was a pretty sturdy setup….

i hiked all 15k through the bosque de pomac, and it was a nice break from the usual distractions. this is the million year tree and is sacred to the incans who originally inhabited the area. also, the government is working on the reforestation of the bosque, since many of the trees were cut down to use the wood for pollo a la brasa.

i hiked all 15k through the bosque de pomac, and it was a nice break from the usual distractions.
this is the million year tree and is sacred to the incans who originally inhabited the area. also, the government is working on the reforestation of the bosque, since many of the trees were cut down to use the wood for pollo a la brasa.

a group of volunteers went camping. this is part of our group enjoying the sunset.

a group of volunteers went camping. this is part of our group enjoying the sunset.

i celebrated carnaval in illimo and joined banda verde. this was my favorite verde float.

i celebrated carnaval in illimo and joined banda verde. this was my favorite verde float.

though the red team went all out in the decorations. carnaval in illimo is a big celebration. the day before there was a giant water fight in the town square between the two teams.

though the red team went all out in the decorations.
carnaval in illimo is a big celebration. the day before there was a giant water fight in the town square between the two teams.

originally for international women's day, i wanted to give a charla to the women of vaso de leche about the importance of being a woman. though, big surprise, my muni said no and wanted to do a parade instead. so, i worked with vaso de leche to organize the muni workers for a parade. this is everyone after.

originally for international women’s day, i wanted to give a charla to the women of vaso de leche about the importance of being a woman. though, big surprise, my muni said no and wanted to do a parade instead. so, i worked with vaso de leche to organize the muni workers for a parade. this is everyone after.

after giving a little speech on gender equality, the band decided to play more more tunes, which resulted in a mini dance party. i was partnered with a regidor (equivalent to a city council member/officer).

after giving a little speech on gender equality, the band decided to play more more tunes, which resulted in a mini dance party. i was partnered with a regidor (equivalent to a city council member/officer).

ysabel and i after the parade, with the sign i made.

ysabel and i after the parade, with the sign i made.

i finally gave my community diagnostic presentation. it was....interesting to say the least...but it happened and some positive things came out of it.

i finally gave my community diagnostic presentation. it was….interesting to say the least…but it happened and some positive things came out of it.

my family and i went for a night out on the town in chiclayo and dined on the finest pollo a la brasa. seriously. it was DELISH.

my family and i went for a night out on the town in chiclayo and dined on the finest pollo a la brasa. seriously. it was DELISH.

the artisans had a number of new products, and so i spent an afternoon taking more pictures for them.

the artisans had a number of new products, and so i spent an afternoon taking more pictures for them.

 

and of course. samia and i are still keeping it real. school has started, so sometimes i help with her homework. or sometimes we just hang out and pretend to dance marenara.

and of course. samia and i are still keeping it real. school has started, so sometimes i help with her homework. or sometimes we just hang out and pretend to dance marenara.

the number of mosquitos in my site has increased significantly  i now know what it feels like to get eaten alive. i go through insect repellent like it’s my job, but it doesn’t seem to keep them away. also of note, as seen in the pictures above, there are a lot of ups and downs. and that is exactly it. there have been a number of challenges i have been facing work-wise in site. sudden changes with my socia at the health post…i had been working with her for 3-4 months on the preparations for one project, and now she is no longer working there, and other health post employees are overloaded already. my municipality has been more of a challenge to work with than anything else. the school i normally work with cancelled it’s first week of classes, then during the next week, i went to coordinate my program with them, there were zero teachers in the classrooms with kids, and they had yet to make the schedule for the new year, and the schools are just handing out textbooks/curriculum this week. in fact, the official school schedule will not be ready until next week…that is 4 weeks after the school year has started…and even though i am little astonished by this, i can’t say i am anymore surprised by it. in fact, all of it seems pretty par for the course, in regards to the experiences that one has not only living in a developing country, but also it’s just part of the peace corps experience.

the important part is concentrate on the positives and learn from the things that don’t work out. and with that, i am concentrating on the goals and things that i want to get done in site, and if i keep that perspective, i really think some positive changes will happen. and the winds are slowly starting to change in my favor!

…it’s about time…

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(almost) all done.

one presentation and 35 pages written in spanish later my community diagnostic is done…well almost…i still have to edit the said 35 pages and present my diagnostic to my community. but the bulk of it is done, i feel like i have my liberty again. i don’t feel guilty for updating my blog instead of working on my diagnostic. and i feel like a free woman who no longer has to divide her days or stay holed-up in her room feverishly entering encuestas and typing away. so anyways. this was a long way to say that iiiiiiiiiiiii’m baaaaaaaaaack!!!!!

so much has happened. so there is a slew of posts. buckle in and hold tight. xoxox.

it came and went.

you guys. i know. i know. it’s been a while. i’m sorry. i wish i could say it was all because i was busy, which is probably about ¾ true, however it is also finding the time and patience to upload photos.

overall life is good. and busy. but good. i have been spending most of my free time working on my community diagnostic, which will ultimately be a very lengthy document about my community, which i will have written in spanish. needless to say, it takes up most of my energy and time. especially processing and analyzing all of my surveys. translation: a lot of tedious paperwork.

but here are some pictures and anecdotes about what filled my time when i wasn’t working on my diagnostic:

despedida!

i attended peru 16’s despedida (a goodbye party for peru 16…to put into context i am peru 19). it was a lot of fun. we all learned the gangnam style dance and went around chiclayo and performed the dance.

practicing for our big debut.

dancing in the parque principal in the center of town in font of a crowd of people.

we went all around town and ended up getting a huge crowd and following. after, we went to ICPNA (the english school that is partnered with the us embassy) and there was a break dancing group that performed for us. after, we all got pizza, hung out at the hostel and then went out to a club and just danced the night away and into the morning. i have never been a going out person, but i have since found it to be quite a release of mounted up energy from being in site all the time.

hanging out at the hostel.

artesanos de tucume.

my friend, cinthia, asked me to help her take pictures of her and the other artisan’s products at the museum in lambayeque. their products are quite impressive and all made by hand and out of organic material. the materials are dyed using local, natural, organic resources and the women turn the organic cotton into the thread that is used to make the products. they are an incredible group of women who take their craft very seriously and i am so excited to be working with them and to learn more about all that they hope to achieve while i am here and help them realize their potential. i also helped them set up a facebook page, check it out here!!!!! (also, don’t forget to like it!) i am also grateful for the friendship of cinthia.

just an example of their style/color palette of their products.

an example of the silver working as well. also all made by hand.

getting around town. 

i finally got it. i have my own cruiser…a mountain bike that is. and to that end i am grateful. it has cut my travel time to the museum in half, and it is nice to get out and about and see more of the rural parts of tucume. i had my site visit today with my supervisors and people repeatedly made commentary about me and my bike…i guess they now know that i make good use of it…

my family got a kick out of me, my bike, my helmet and my camelback. samia seriously took an entire photo shoot of me on my bike.

speaking of samia and bicycles…in true bff form, as soon as i started speeding around town on my bike, samia decided that she wanted to start using her bike as well. i carried her bike all the way across town and to the outskirts to the grifo to use their air machine to fill her bike’s tires. then i carried it all the way home. we then spent the afternoon at the park, where i taught her to ride the bike. there is still training wheels, as i am teaching her how to pedal (she likes to pedal forward once and then pedal backwards a lot).

watch out tucume!

bike mongers.

halloweeenie.

fact, my second favorite holiday is halloween. luckily, my friend, casey, had a halloween parade and party planned with the youth leadership group in his site, patapo. i dressed as cat, and made ears out of my hair and drew a nose and whiskers on my face. little did i realize that this would ultimately result in me drawing cat nose and whiskers on 30+ teenage girls’ faces as well. needless to say, i am professional cat whisker drawer….don’t worry, i will be adding that to my resume.

all of the volunteers with the mayor of patapo.

stephen and i on the back of mototaxi. riding through town shouting happy halloween to everyone.

michelle and i at the halloween party. i was so exhausted that i am pretty sure i was passed out shortly after this photo was taken.

all of the volunteers at the party!

the day after.

the day following halloween was dio de los muertos for peru, which meant a federal holiday here. this meant that most of our families ventured to the cemeteries to pay homage to their lost loved ones. this also meant that none of us had anything really going on in our sites. so we decided to go up to changoyape and visit stephen and tina.

changoyape is right on the border of cajamarca and kind of where the sierra region begins. stephen gave us the grand tour and it was just breathtakingly beautiful there.

the volunteers visiting changoyape.

while we were getting the grand tour, i found an odd spiky looking fruit growing. so i did what any normal person would do, which was to break it open. i still couldn’t decide if it was edible or not, so i did the next most sensible thing: i walked over to the old man pulling guava from his tree and asked him if i could eat the fruit in my hands. while he was explaining that i should not eat the new found fruit, i realized that he was pulling guava for his pet monkey. let me repeat that for you: his pet MONKEY. needless to say i won the award for best find of the day.

dreams coming true!

oh you know. best friends just hanging out and being natural, you know.

before we left, the old man was super kind and took a long reed pole and pulled down some guava for us to take on the road with us.

starting to enjoy the fruits of our labor

for those of you who have never actually seen real guava. it looks like a giant pea pod, and you stick the giant seeds in your mouth, but you only eat the white part. then you spit the seeds, which are a little bigger than the size of a quarter.

tippy taps.

i am still going on caserio visits with vaso de leche, but now i am trying to work with the ladies on making tippy taps for their homes. water is not readily accessible and with tippy taps it will help them save and have accessible clean water to wash their hands. these are made by using household items that they already have lying around. a HUGE challenge with this is getting the ladies to bring their plastic bottles. but the good news is that plenty of cute kids still come!

mujeres jovenes.

i just love my mujeres jovenes. thursday nights we have our activity nights. every month has a value theme and the first week of every month we work on a personal progress experience within that value, and the other weeks we do fun activities. i only have 3 young women, but i hope that it slowly expands. right now the three that i do have are so incredible and have such amazing testimonies.

for the month of november, we are concentrating on knowledge. for last week’s activity, i brought a bag full of ingredients for a dessert. i turned it into an object lesson for the importance of directions and following those directions and seeking out knowledge and direction as well. then we made homemade whipped cream with strawberries. it was their first time to try whipped cream. it was an obvious success.

enjoying the fruits of their labor (budunching!)…

loving it!

as soon as their mom’s heard i was teaching them a dessert to make, they were quick to join as well. it’s true, food really is the way to the heart here.

honorable mentions.

not mentioned above but of note, is that i have been working on getting my world map realized for the past 6 weeks. it has been an exhausting going to the muni daily to follow-up in order to get things done. last monday ended with a frustrated erin in the park crying (a normal peace corps response…honest), and an equally frustrating one that i am currently addressing.

i have been working on the iñikuk pageant that is going on tonight. this has included multiple meetings and rehearsals for the girls.

i had my site visit today, and overall it was just fine. i just need to keep on trucking on with my diagnostic. guhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

i have started to work with the museum, and i am working on an environment club for this summer.

i am busy in the colegio doing charlas. i have done a number on self-esteem, including a fun activity with balloons. apparently it was a hit with the kids, as i was asked to come back to do the sex ed charlas. (read the sex ed charla to learn more on the outcome of this).

i voted. and then watched election night with all of the volunteers. it was a lot of fun and involved a lot chips and guacamole.

i think this more or less brings us up to date. hopefully i can keep up with this. whew. glad we made it through that one.

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late(leigh).

oh hey! long time no see! sorry for the hiatus, especially after such a bleak one. i suppose i should update you on the activities that i have been up to. though up until last week, my work had been slow, i was still going out daily and working on charlas and encuestas with the ladies at vaso de leche.

doing my diagnostic in cruz blanca.

more encuestas being completed!

i also went to mocupe to help another volunteer with an event she planned with her school: an english singing competition! it was great. all the kids had planned a song to sing as a group and even choreographed and coordinated matching clothes. it made for a delightful afternoon. after which, i stopped into to chiclayo for some dinner on my way back, where i learned that there is a place that serves RIBS! obviously, it didn’t beat texas, but it will hold me over when i have my real red meat cravings.

phil, hallie and i served as the judges panel. too much pressure if you ask me. who wants to crush a child’s dream?

these girls were performing “wake me up when september ends” by green day. they even had a group of fans with balloons and posters.

my weekends here somehow always end up being way busier than the weekdays, which goes to show that peace corps really is a 24/7 job. a couple of weekends ago i was invited to a friend’s grandfather’s 80th birthday out in la ramada, which is a caserio in the sierra for salas. it was my first time to the sierra since being in peru, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. peruvians are marathoners of parties. this party started at 7:30 am and was still happening when we left at 8:30 pm. needless to say, that by the end of the day of eating, hiking, dehydrating, dancing and speaking only in spanish all day…i was exhausted!

la ramada, salas.

we went on a couple of hikes through miguel’s family’s land, which led us to a couple of rivers. while hiking through the lush, dense land we happened upon a lot of beautiful flowers, fruits and more.

this is the plant that they use to create the reed islands and kayaks.

banana tree.

 

this is when i felt like i was on an episode of LOST.

while hiking i tried a lemon dulce from its tree. it looked just like a lemon and smelled like one too. i thought my friend was trying to prank me, but instead it was just pure deliciousness. it seriously tasted like lemonade in whole-fruit form.

a view from one of points of the river we hiked to.

 

an ancient moche lunar calendar we happened upon while hiking.

 

the birthday boy. eighty years young!

this guy was great. he would come up say every single word he knew in english to me in one breath. i then realized what i sounded like when i spoke spanish. but really, he was just a hoot.

i also helped with a nationwide fundraiser in my town, called teleton, where my town had a 2-day event in the central park. the schools all performed different traditional dances, with some kids performing some solo numbers. it was quite a treat! and quite an eight-hour work day!

a performance and our booth in front of the muni.

i also took a much needed break and met up with some friends for some karaoke. if you know me, this is the best form of self-therapy (after bowling of course) for me, and turns out the place we went to had tons of country! i am not just talking about pop-country, but i mean REAL country (george strait, waylon jennings)!!!! needless to say, my fellow texan and i performed plenty of country songs with a number of “yee-haw’s!” to boot. we were far from the karaoke bars favorite customers, but at least we felt a little piece of home here in peru.

as i had hoped/predicted the eighth week was much busier. the huelga with the schools lifted, so now the kids are in school six days a week to make up for the lost time. my socia at the health post is back from her month-long vacation and people in my town are finally starting to recognize the only gringa in town. i forgot to have my camera with me to prove my activities, but i was back with partnering with the health post on charlas. i did a fun self-esteem one with balloons. it was a hit.

i also did a mini intro-session/charla of the peace corps to some business-owner friends. i have started to do some initial stages of planning with the police. i met with an artisan and plan on working with her artisan group and help them establish an internet presence and other marketing ideas. i went to an event out in morrope the other day with another volunteer, terrace. we hitched a ride back from the caserios in an enormous dump truck. while the fellow was out of the truck trying to take care of something, we replaced his cumbia cd with a cd that terrace made of herself singing environmental verses in spanish to the tunes of hit american pop songs. all i can say, is that he will be delightfully surprised when he next turns on his stereo. i mailed my early-voting ballot in. i have been eating CHIPS AND SALSA…chips and salsa, people!!!! i attended another wedding last night and took my place as the token gringa dancing the night away with all the old men.

of course there are still plenty of challenges to come: por ejemplo, my socia at the health post is going on an indefinite huelga starting this wednesday. but i will take a week full of positives for now.

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work.

 

well. i couldn’t think of a more fitting title. one thing about peace corps is that you have amazing weeks, and other weeks you don’t. some weeks you feel like you making a lot of forward-moving steps in your community…and other weeks, it’s the opposite. and perhaps, this week was not the best week, but the good news is that there will be better weeks.

my diagnostic was practically halted this week, and a new strategy will be employed next week. for the past 2 ½ weeks there has been a teacher strike in peru…indefinitely. i have been told that the last one lasted 2 months, and commentary on the news has revealed that there have been high tensions in lima about the strike and is thought that this one could potentially last until december (when school is let out for summer). also this week, a medical strike began as well…also indefinitely. this means all doctors, nurses, etc. are on strike. this also means my health post is on strike.

 

i was greeted to a meeting with a locked door. tis the story of my life this week.

today i was supposed to have my first event that i was planning, which had to be canceled due to the aforementioned strikes. i suppose it was just a disappointment, due to the fact that it was my first planned event in my town with my help, and it didn’t come to fruition. however, the good news, is that i have two years to have more events in my town.

so this weekend/first half of this week is going to be spent re-strategizing on how to find the youth, and start projects that can draw the kids to do something while they have some extra time on their hands…

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diagnostica.

students working on their surveys.

this week, i was able to start working on my diagnostic with the students. the school is letting me into all of their 28 turorias to do my diagnostic. i prepared a VERY thorough survey for the students to get a better understanding of them, as well as have some fairly-concrete statistics to present to my community. if time permits during the class, i also have them perform a FODA (SWOT) analysis of their community and school, a seasonal calendar or a community map.

there is a total of 6 colegios in my community, with only one public one. i have decided to focus my diagnostic on the one public school, as it includes kids from all over the district, and there are about 120 kids in each grade level, which can provide pretty solid numbers.

i hope to do similar sessions with different demographics in my community: the municipality, important community leaders i have met and their associates, vaso de leche and the health post.

here’s to hoping the pace keeps up!

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