Tag Archives: tucume

rio leche.

the rio.

the rio.

my almost daily 15-mile bike rides in and out of the caserios for a couple of the schools i have begun to work with, has had me crossing the rio leche. the rio is a legend of sorts here since the ancient days, in that it was what brought life to this desert valley. the water comes from the highlands, and has been quite high for the last month or so. now with irrigation for their fields, farmers aren’t quite as reliant, but many of the families that live in the caserios still rely on it for water in their household, washing clothes, cooking, etc. it also makes for a nice halfway/rest point during my rides.

one of the many birds that are feeding off the harvested rice fields.

one of the many birds that are feeding off the harvested rice fields.

 

a group of the students from the primaria that my youth group and i have started to work with.

a group of the students from the primaria that my youth group and i have started to work with.

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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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saved by the bell.

IMG_3821lately, a part of my day time has been spent in the classroom with all the 3rd grade high school students. i am working with all 6 classes of 3rd grade, during their hours of tutoria. tutoria is an hour during the school day, devoted to helping the students develop a sense of self: self-esteem, future planning, etc. i have been working with the teachers and health center on carrying out the “pasos adelante” program with all 6 classes. at the end of the 3 month course, we will select 3-4 students from each class who have demonstrated the most amount of interest and work throughout the course, and form a group of youth health promoters for their school. they will then replicate the classes for other classes in their colegio and work with the health center on doing health promotion events (e.g. international youth day, world aids day, etc.).

each class, we have a discussion part, where we discuss what was discussed the week before, and how it applies to the next discussion topic. we then do an introductory activity, which normally allows the students to move throughout the classroom. after, we do an applicable discussion and how to apply the activity to the theme and other parts of their life and why it’s relevant. both the students and the teachers have demonstrated a great deal of interest in the program. though, with only 40 minutes for each class, it is definitely step-by-step, but it’s great to make sure that the kids are grasping the concepts, as most of this is the first time the students have been presented with the ideas of: why self-esteem is important, why it’s important to understand how to make decisions, what are the key differences between sex and gender. also, it’s been great to get to know many of these kids in a classroom setting, and has solidified my working relationship with the teachers at the colegio.

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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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mi casa es su casa.

back in april, i put together a video for my world wise school that i am partnered with, and also for my presentation that i gave in the states. i don’t know how i did it, but i forgot to share it with you all here! let’s just call it, getting caught up in work, shall we?

anyways, here is a video that gives you a glimpse into my home, my site and its culture…featuring the accompaniment by the none other…talking heads (if you know me, then you know of my love and adoration of a band that was way before its time)!

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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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