Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Peace Corps: The Hardest Job You'll Ever Love

Fear not loyal tax-payer!  You are most certainly getting your money's worth in me.  I find it only slightly ironic that it is in my volunteer job that I find myself working harder, being more dedicated, and feeling more passionate in my efforts than ever before in my life.  I have been so busy that I have mixed up a few meetings, dedicated myself foolhardily to a few too many projects, and mistaken a few of my socios (counterparts) for others.  But despite these speed bumps, my work continues to soldier on at a lightning pace.  So for you're benefit, to make you feel better about your hard earned cash funding my trip to Peru, I will detail some of my work here.

First of all, I have been working on my community diagnostic. This alone has taken up a good amount of my time because I have to translate the spanish of the reports I receive from the Hospital, Health Center, Municipality, and professors into usable data.  Of course, this means that I am getting plenty of spanish practice.  I have been told by my family that I have noticeably improved since arriving - although I have to admit I don't feel the same way.  I have been using spare moments to make flash cards of new vocabulary and work through my advanced spanish text book I was given during training.

Also I have been travelling to the local caserios (small rural communities with few resources) around Cutervo to learn the reality of life for the majority of people living here.  I have also done charlas about a ton of topics like health, environment, leadership, self-esteem, and english classes.  My main socios for these trips have been Victor Medina (director of the Association for Cutervo Youth), Professor Oscar Castillo (english professor at Colegio Casanova), and Professor Rodolfo Diaz (professor at Colegio Cristo Rey).  So far I have given charlas at two schools here in the city, at a catholic church youth group, and in two different rural communities (Chiguirip and La Conga).  To date I have given charlas to close to 750 children.
Can't leave town without gas!

Charla on self-esteem in Chiguirip, Chota, Cajamarca

Doing a team-builder in Chiguirip, Chota, Cajamarca

With DISA (the health center in charge of all the health posts in the province) I have been planning some larger projects.  On October 6th-8th, we will be travelling to the district of Querocotillo in the north in order to ascertain the effectiveness of the health posts there.  I will have the opportunity to talk with health professionals throughout the province about the strengths and weaknesses they face working with the area's youth.  We are also going to have a multi-sectorial meeting on the 11th to discuss the planning of a youth center.  At this facility we hope to give children a place to go after school (other than the streets) where they can get help with homework, be involved in planned activities and field trips, and have access to a whole range of educational opportunities and professional help (from police, psychologists, doctors, educators, and social workers).  I am working on a similar project for a community out in the campo that is central enough for a few other communities to utilize.  I hope to give charlas in both as well as help with administrative work.

On the 15th, I am working with Victor and two other volunteers close by to head to the community of Palo Solo to give a presentation of ourselves and a demonstration of our work.  We will give small charlas over topics of healthy living, leadership, and self-esteem for a group of 200 people from about 7 different communities.

Last but certainly not least, I have been making friends, hanging out with the family, and enjoying the culture.  It is still taking a lot of work simply to feel like a part of the community but I definitely feel like part of my family already.  Local elections were held this weekend and the whole family was finally under the same roof long enough for us to enjoy each other's company.  My brother Kike is getting a degree in human rights (so we have a lot to talk about) and my sister Madoli is getting her degree in tourism and we spent a couple hours talking in english and studying vocab together.  It was a bit sad to see them go but I will be heading through their city on my way back for my early IST (in service training) in two months.
From Left to Right: Lilia, Madoli, Kike, Andrea, Jimena, and Raul

1 comment:

  1. I'm a perspective DU master's student and I'm pretty sure you just sold me on doing the joint master's/Peace Corps program with your blog. Keep up the amazing work. The world needs more people like you!