Tag Archives: people

in the know.

talking to a school director in tucume viejo.

talking to a school director in tucume viejo.

lately, i have been spending many of my mornings with the presidenta, vice-president, and my socio, from my youth volunteer group (ADEPZORT) traveling to the various caserios of my district in order for them to better understand what needs exist outside of the main pueblo. the culture and way of life in the campo is quite different than that of the pueblo. additionally, there are different needs for the youth and their communities. also, the campo makes up for most of the geography of my site, so at times we have found ourselves in the truck for 30 minutes to travel to these communities.

many of these communities are lacking water and electricity, and are the more impoverished pockets of my site. it has been a great reality check for the youth that have joined for the interviews, so they can better understand the realities of those they desire to serve. this weekend, the council is getting together to better form an outline of project ideas based off of the information they have collected by talking with school directors, health posts and community members of those caserios visited. i am quite excited to continue my work with these youth as throughout this process they have demonstrated an increase of passion of working with those in the rural areas of tucume. hooray!

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home. +1.

peru on our world map.

peru on our world map.

well. this month marks my one year mark of living in peru. i did it! but really, to live and adapt and integrate into a foreign country is not a cake walk, but it has also been one of the most enriching experiences. i arrived to peru, well….exhausted…, but completely open minded to the experiences that awaited. i also arrived only being able to reply with “si.” and by the second day, i was able to say the word “claro.” and i only hoped that i wasn’t agreeing to anything too absurd.

after learning enough language to survive, and receiving a full library’s worth of manuals and books, i was sent off to a pueblo in the middle of the peruvian northern coastal desert. this pueblo has slowly but surely become my home. i have built a strong relationship with a family that has become my own. i have built friendships with people who have never shorted me with their patience, their positivity and love….and of course, food.

traditional mochican wall carving.

traditional mochican wall carving.

their passion for their immense cultural history here has captured me, and as i explore and discover new parts of my site’s more rural parts, i relish in the fact that i am experiencing a living history.

i have discovered that in order to truly grow to love a place and people and culture, you have to endure the hardships as well as relish in the great things. throughout my time in site thus far, i have had some key socios move or have a change in career, a month long school strike, accumulative to a month’s strike from the health post, a school that started more than a month late, have spent hours upon hours waiting for people to show for meetings, and so much more. another challenge for me, in particular, was breaking the social barriers that existed in my municipality because of my being a female and a foreigner. so, when i was asked to raise my district’s flag with my mayor during my town’s celebratory flag ceremony for bolognesi, which happened to share the same date of arrival to peru, my heart was overwhelmed…because for me, this was a sign of how far i had come, and how far my site and i have come together. the truth is, everyone’s site is completely different. and some come with more difficulties than others, and sometimes i found myself wishing for an easier service. but, at the end of the day, it was through those challenges, that have come to call my site home. that it is. home. with one more year + a couple of months. i’m home. and i love it here.

getting ready to walk the flag through town before the flag raising ceremony.

getting ready to walk the flag through town before the flag raising ceremony.

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international environment day.

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a teacher that i have worked closely with at the main colegio in town asked me to help him in planning and executing a school-wide activity for international environment day (june 5). we had a flood of ideas, but the biggest difficulty that was presented was engaging more than 700 students at the same time. as the main event, we had all the students come to the school in the morning and cleaned the entire school grounds. this was inspired by a “chiclayo limpio” activity on earth day, where all the schools in chiclayo took to cleaning their school, which really meant, cleaning all the miscellaneous trash that covered the school grounds. the kids really enjoyed this, as we had music playing, and we were able to actively and continuously engage the kids with the realization that when they throw their trash on the ground, no one will pick it up but them. that is a part of the culture that runs rampant here, is the blatancy of littering…willie nelson would be so disappointed. the additional problem is that the trash just builds up, until there is enough dirt that you are practically chipping trash out of the ground.

sweeping dirt. or really getting trash that has been built up in the dirt.

sweeping dirt. or really getting trash that has been built up in the dirt.

it wouldn’t be a real event in my site, if there was no pasacalle, so of course, after we filled trash bin upon trash bin, we got the school together to march through the streets with the municipality. hooray for the environment!

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keeping the tradition.

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the artisans i work with in site, work diligently to perfect their skill. they also work to keep the mochican tradition alive. the women receive take locally grown cotton, and using natural dyes from locally grown beans, they are able to have cotton with different shades of brown. they then create their own thread and material by a time-consuming spindling process. they then use this to create their various products. i have featured many other of their products: purses, blankets, headbands, wallets, jewelry, etc.

IMG_3650the artisans always include insignias from the mochican artwork, which can still be found in the pyramids, which are found in my site. they also work withe further developing their skills and products to make them more marketable to the tourists that frequent my town. the other week, they ladies had a workshop perfecting their hand-weaving.

IMG_3655during this workshop in particular, the women worked on creating table runners for more formal dining settings. though, truthfully, the work is so beautiful that it could just as well be a wall hanging. i have been continuing my work with the women on keeping track of their costs of production, as often their prices are ambiguously chosen, and at times doesn’t even cover their costs.

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corpus christi.

the painted streets.

the painted streets.

a couple of weeks ago, we celebrated corpus christi in our site. the schools and church painted the streets around the main plaza, and then sprinkled the streets with red dust. in there morning there was a procession throughout the streets and everyone celebrated with a large lunch with their family. needless to say, i didn’t know there was an actual holiday for this…only just a coastal city in south texas where i have fond memories building sand castles when i was kid.

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(girl)friends.

my lambaysexy ladies (+zack) at camp alma.

my lambaysexy ladies (+zack) at camp alma.

friends are always a necessity. they are always important. and my time in peru has proven to me how important that truly is. i read on a blog once that we as volunteers receive, “government issued friends.” in some ways, that is true, as we are all here due to our government-made assignments, but at the same time, i relate to my friends on a deeper level, and our friendship transcends the idea of “government issued.” the bonds that have been formed through laughing so hard our sides hurt, or calling each other on days where you feel like you can’t make it another day living in a foreign land, or painting our nails over friday night skype sessions (what else would be doing on a friday night in site at 9pm?), these bonds are unbreakable. they are permanent.

my favorite 19er ladies.

my favorite 19er ladies.

we also have the incredible opportunity to explore a foreign country together, and forge our way into integrating into a culture that just a year or more ago, we had zero insight on. we bond over the challenges of creating a home and community in a developing country. we also help build each other and give each other strength when it’s needed. we also can provide each other the biggest laughs, and even find the mundane to have it’s own sense of humor.

not a day goes by where i don't talk to this girl.

not a day goes by where i don’t talk to this girl.

it’s our different backgrounds that bring us together, and it’s those things that we share in common that continuously builds our bond. i cherish my ladies nights that include ribs and 3o rock, nights filled with painting our nails, supporting each other’s projects, and just listening to each other’s days. being in the peace corps, has transformed my idea of what it really means to be a friend.

ladies night!

ladies night!

without my (girl)friends, i don’t know what i would do. i have truly been lucky in the people i have met and the “government issued” friends that i have near me. without the laughs and hugs from these ladies, and their always eager ears to listen, this experience would be infinitely more difficult. instead, we are able to help each other laugh, and rediscover our goofy side in those moments where it is most needed. and without them, i wouldn’t have a shoulder to cry on when i need it the most. and i wouldn’t have the best cheerleaders to help me carry on when i need it the most. i am lucky to have a group where we are not just friends, but we actively work to continue to bring the best out of each other and help each other achieve their goals. and that’s incredible.

the best.

the best.

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those moments.

those moments where you share mindless conversations with your fellow combi passengers, and the ebb-and-flow of the conversation comes with great ease, and the structure of the foreign language that you could not even utter one vowel of one year previously is slipping off your tongue with incredible ease. it’s those moments, where not only does the ease of a new, acquainted friendship is formed take you aback, but also where a new benchmark is set with my language level. it’s those moments that i cherish.

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camp ALMA.

the whole camp!

the whole camp!

this past weekend all of the volunteers in my department and i had our first camp of the year: camp ALMA!!!! it involved a lot of preparation, teamwork, a lot of support from our communities and especially from you guys back home!!!

camp ALMA is a yearly camp that we as volunteers put together for young women (ages 13-18) in our communities. for many, it’s their first time of sleeping away from home, and for all it’s their first time to camp and sleep in tents. each volunteer brings 2 girls that have demonstrated great leadership skills in their communities, and they have an opportunity to build long-lasting friendships with other girls, and also learn about what the realities are of other people’s homes. for many of these girls, it’s also an opportunity to build a new support network with other girls their age who can support them in their goals to attend university and other career aspirations, as quite often this type of support is not found in the home. the camp also strives to empower the girls to be in control of the decisions that are going to be making in their life. and finally, the camp is just a lot of FUN!

activities included:

  • team cheer-off contests

    team rojo's chant.

    team rojo’s chant.

  • teambuilding exercises
  • trust falls…because camp would be incomplete without them
  • belly dancing lessons
  • creating community maps to share about the communities
  • self-esteem, values and decision making
  • environmental awareness
  • group discussion with an obstetrician379655_10101100300600649_1065955547_n
  • cuy farming
  • mural painting
  • telenovela play
  • volleyball tournament
  • campfire with s’mores
  • peruvian women who made history
  • yogurt making
  • career assessment exam
  • career fair

    team rojo!

    team rojo!

  • sexual education: condom use, abstinence, finding an ideal partner
  • talent show
  • question and answer time
  • condom race
  • talent show
  • …and so many other fun games!
the amazing lambayeque volunteers! and apparently too much work has made us crazy...

the amazing lambayeque volunteers! and apparently too much work has made us crazy…

and to think we packed all this into 3 days is crazy! but the girls and all the volunteers had quite the memorable three days. when we left, all the girls were writing down their emails and other contact information so they could keep in touch with their new friends.  numerous hugs were given. and for a few, even some tears of goodbye. and let’s not forget, that these girls walked away being empowered with new knowledge of self-awareness and a sense of capability that they can accomplish their goals, and that numerous before have done so, and so can they. and that is a mission accomplished.

always fun and games with us! thanks again for your support!!!

always fun and games with us! thanks again for your support!!!

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the great may escape.

goodness gracious. my, oh, my how time has escaped us…or really just me.

after celebrating the most incredible peruvian birthday, i hopped on a plane to visit friends and family in the us. i was overwhelmed in general, but also by the love of those closest to me. bu seriously, i was pretty overwhelmed culturally as well. being in the peace corps, you get so used to a certain pace of life, a very slow one, and also that about 90% of your time is spent independent of all other americans and in solitude in your country’s culture. another 5% is spent with any volunteer that may be near you, who you may see with varying frequency (once a week or once every month or so depending on schedules). and the final 5% is with other volunteers once or twice month, who are all living the same life of solitude as you, so really we are pretty not self-aware of  how strangely awkward we have become. so, to put me in a situation where i was constantly interacting with people, by the end of the 3rd day in a row, i slept for almost a full 24 hours to catch up. though, i am not complaining. it was so wonderful to see all of my family. and i am so blessed that my brother and close friend both flew in from nyc to see me.

it was especially nice to get to spend time with mp, who was my main reason to visit the us. when mp last left, we went to cusco and lima, and now it was my turn to pay him a visit. though, he kept me quite busy and even gave me a second birthday surprise! he coordinated with a local animal sanctuary to do an at-home visit with a SLOTH and FENNEC FOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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i think it should also be noted that i got my hair cut for the first time in almost a year, and saw it straightened and cleaned, and i felt like a new woman. but obviously with the animals above i was on another level of excitement that was out of this world. eventually all good (read: great) things have to come to an end, and a very reluctant to leave girl was pushed on to her plane by an amazing mp to return to peru.

i arrived back to peru in one piece, and had a few days in site to remind everyone that i was still here and wanting to work, and also coordinate and prepare for our PEPFAR (president’s emergency plan for aids relief) training. with this training, my socia and i were able to take away a number of great new resources and statistics to share with our community, and now have the opportunity to receive aid money for our project.

doris and i after she received her certificate of completion!

doris and i after she received her certificate of completion!

the following week, we jump started our 6 classes of our sex ed leadership training program, but unfortunately later that week, she received news that she was being transfered to another post far from my site, so now i am still spearheading this training, but more so solo-style, since my health post is dramatically understaffed, and have them help out when it needed. but if anything, this motivates me even more to get my youth promoters trained, so they then can be doing this part and alleviate some of the stress from the health post as well.

i have been terrible about using my camera lately, so i will succinctly describe the other activities that have been keeping me quite busy:

  • i have been giving business charlas to the artisans, and helping them figure out what the costs of their products are and how to determine what they should be setting as their prices. and goodness, they were in need of this. one artisan had been selling these beautifully embroidered bread covers for only 10 soles, when the cost alone to make them was 35 soles.
  • 6 classes of pasos a week keeps a girl busy. let’s just leave it at that.
  • i have been working with my youth leadership council (ADEPZORT) on helping them with their community diagnostic. we have been visiting the most rural caserios and my goodness, you never get used to seeing the amount of poverty that exists in this country, or in any country, but you can’t help but want to give so many more opportunities to these people.
  • celebrated dia internacional de los museos with other volunteers, and finally visited my museum’s pyramids.
  • weekly youth group meetings with my mochumi young women’s group.
  • coordinating a 5-pueblo job fair for september
  • coordinating an environmental awareness event with my colegio for next week.
  • working on a website for the artisans
  • working on a video for the museum
  • and of course, camp ALMA!!!!!!!!!!! (which will be covered in it’s own post)

so i have been busy, busy girl and for that i am grateful. i have also been able to watch all of the new arrested development…superb! as a parting gift, here is a picture from the top of one of my pyramids:

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(b)earth day.

where to even start? yesterday was an incredible (and long) day, and i felt love from all over the world. a birthday is quite the holiday in peru. in fact, legally, people are free from all work for the day…unless you are a peace corps volunteer.

it all started the night before where mp presented me a video of all those i love and have loved throughout my life wishing me a happy birthday. there were friends from high school, college and beyond, and people fro seattle, nyc, boston, utah, all over texas and everywhere in between. within seconds of seeing hans dialing the phone (the opening shot of the video), i was left in tears. tears of feeling so much love from back home. for those four minutes, the usa and all those i love there no longer seemed so far away. it was the best way to start the day.

samia barged into my room to show off her new brigadir uniform, which then followed with my host mom running in to hug me and sing happy birthday to me. i then worked on finalizing the details of my earth day event for the morning, and i learned with about 10 minutes in advance that the ong that was coming to speak about reforestation in the bosque was not going to make it…so i had 10 minutes to come up with an hour-long charla about the environment.

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luckily, you learn to get pretty creative on the fly in peace corps. additionally, i was greeted with 70 students at my colegio singing happy birthday to me!

say, what?!

say, what?!

for the charla, i had an environmental youtube video i showed, then spent 30 minutes rambling about the ecosystem and reforestation. i also had us play a game outside…which went…well…let’s just say i was able to tie it all back in.

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afterwards, we planned a pasacalle in conjunction with the primeria, and my students followed behind and cleaned up trash on the streets, while the primary kids, ironically, used more resources to look cute in earth day costumes and posters…and was burning trash to show the consequences of doing so…i still haven’t figured that one out yet…

me with some of my alumnos ready to pick up the litter!

me with some of my alumnas ready to pick up the litter!

blanca with her cutiepatootie students!

blanca with her cutiepatootie students!

seriously. i don't get the burning things to make a point act, but it's peru...so it does kind of make sense...

seriously. i don’t get the burning things to make a point act, but it’s peru…so it does kind of make sense…

taking over the pan-american highway...it's what we do best.

taking over the pan-american highway…it’s what we do best.

you know, if one’s peace corps service was determined by the number of pasacalles one does…then i would be the pcv all-star…only because my site loves them, and is pretty reluctant to try something else…pero poco a poco we will see what we can do about that…

after an exhausting morning of corralling the alumnos around town and cleaning the streets, i came home and watched samia all afternoon. and she really demonstrated what it means to be four…tears…all day…for no reason…well, honestly, it was because she was exhausted, but i felt the consequences of that. for 3 1/2 hours straight it was just tears. at about the 2 hour mark it just became impressive.

also, our pesky chanchito has gotten bigger, stronger and smarter and keeps escaping. so i had to run after him a couple of times yesterday and redo his stake in the ground, which resulted him in getting his piggy-ness all over me…gross…

hammering the stake back into the ground...he was too close for my liking...

hammering the stake back into the ground…he was too close for my liking…

later that evening my family returned home, and they surprised me with my favorite meal: pollo a la brasa and of course, some birthday cake!

mi mama, yo y samia!

mi mama, yo y samia!

millie did such a great job on picking out the cake!

millie did such a great job on picking out the cake

i gave samia the reigns on my camera. i look like a giant in a 4-year-old's eyes...not complaining...

i gave samia the reigns on my camera. i look like a giant in a 4-year-old’s eyes…not complaining…

the johnsons wished me an extra special birthday with a special blog post on cat’s website. it still makes me smile!

later, i went to mochumi to visit with my branch president. sunday, after church, a lady there randomly asked me when my birthday was and so i responded with “tomorrow.” this caused my branch president to run after me in the street and invite me back the chapel the next day for “something.” i figured it was going to be cake, and when i was walking up i could here some of the kids say “ella viene!, ella viene!” but then the lights went out and it was just my branch president. he then proceeded to pretend to “interview” me/have a birthday chat. we then went downstairs, and they hit the lights, and i was greeted by everyone in my branch for a surprise party. it was great! there was a saxophone. and decorations. it was the best. they made me dance in the middle with every male in the room (per tradition). they pushed my face into my cake (per peruvian tradition). we danced to the saxophone some cumbia, huayno and marinera. everyone gave some palabras (per peruvian custom).

my branch president and family. love these people so much.

my branch president and family. love these people so much.

listening to the wonderful words of people in my branch.

listening to the wonderful words of people in my branch.

danixa giving her palabras.

danixa giving her palabras.

seriously. love this girl. she has come such a long way since i arrived.

seriously. love this girl. 

lourdes, jasmin and their sister. some of the girls i work with.

lourdes, jasmin and their sister. some of the girls i work with.

making my wish and getting ready to blow out my candle...

making my wish and getting ready to blow out my candle…

lucho wanted me to play his saxophone in our picture. seriously. this man has some great talent.

lucho wanted me to play his saxophone in our picture. seriously. this man has some great talent.

not an awkward picture with the elders. ha.

not an awkward picture with the elders. ha.

the leftovers.

the leftovers.

it was just so incredible. my heart was so full. in fact, it is still so full of all the outpouring of love i received yesterday. i wish i could stress just how small the world felt yesterday, because i truly felt love from all those all around the world. i have been less than enthused about turning 28 (for the first time in my life i feel old…), but i couldn’t have had a better day…including the chasing down our pig. also, i realized that birthdays are really just days to celebrate your relationship with all of those around you in your life, and i am grateful that i was able to do so!

peru. i fell more in love with you yesterday. every one else, thank you for making me feel so loved and cared for. i am so blessed.

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