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