Social Impact Design

Monday, September 19, 2011

So much to say

So the past two posts were written on my comp a few days ago. This is written in real time.

We split or PC into two different training centers. Santa Eulalia and Choclacayo. I am in the St. Eulalia group. We drove for maybe 5 minutes and arrived at the tropical training center. its is rediculously amazing. The person who built it had intended to have a dance hall\hotel with beautiful gardens. The PC is helping him achieve this reality by renting it out.

We drove to the training center and got into a big circle. Then, our host families arrived and we were handed out in a price is right manor. Would Amelia come on down! Then everyone would clap as you stooped low to hug your host parents. I have a host mother and a sister (probably 30 years old or so). They had 6 PC volunteers before me, but they were all girls! So my room had pink curtains and sheets, which they insisted on changing right away.

My house is a 10 minute walk away from the training center, which is very lucky for me because a lot of people have to take a bus in. Santa Eulalia is very pretty: there is a small town square with a glass building inthe center filled with computers. They are free to use by all! it is right by the church and police station.

My house is down the road, directly behind a small cement futball "field". Often people over shoot and the ball lands on our metal roof making a loud BOOM! This causes the two small dogs outside of my room to bark up a storm. But it keeps things exciting in my house!
There are about 10 volunteers in my town, all of us within walking distance of eachother. My host moms nephew often stops by the house (my age) and i try to talk in my broken spanish. I actually can understand a good amount of what my mom says, she is great. She keeps saying, let me know if you are hungry, what you like, dont worry about hurting my feelings. She is very straight forward and kind. Pictures to come.

On our first day, it just so happened to be a festival in our church. They carried the cross through the city to the priests compound, where we continued to have a festival. Many very loud fireworks were fired all day. A horn and drum band followed the cross, and after dinner and drinks, there was dancing (and alpacas too!).

It was a lot happening but really great to be a part of. There is less staring that I thought there would be, but i think our town is used to PC volunteers at this point, and it is quite a small town. I am right next to a fast moving river, but the water is pretty low as of now.

I am tired, and have class tomorrow, but once I get faster internet, I will upload some videos!

Hasta luego!

Some initial thoughts

We arrived to the compound around 1030 pm. By the faint moonlight, I could make out the silhoutte of the mountains, a grey mass shooting up into the dark night sky. Physically exhausted from a whole day of travel, it was hard to believe it was real.

In the morning, I awake to find us completely surounded by mountains and palm trees! My phone was still set on eastern time, so I accidently woke up an hour early, but did not notice the mistake until I was all showered and dressed ready to eat... But it was nice, I had some time to walk around and soak in the reality: I am in Peru!We arived at a religious retreat, which is quite a large area. it has one mess hall, 4 buildings, with beds showers, a pool and lockers, as well as quite a few gazebos. It is built into a hillside, so the view from the dorms is great, with a terraced view of the complex.

We had a long day of "being talked to" as one person put it. This can be quite tiring. Around 5:30, I felt utterly drained. My body is going through a lot of changes, the season, the food, the pollen, the baceria ect. Very tired.

For dinner, he had Papas Huancainas, a dish that I tried making at my going away party. They tasted the same! I am very excited to cook (and eat) Peruvian food.

Tomorrow, I will meet my host family for the first time. I hope they like and accept me into their household. I am a little nervous but mostly excited. I am falling asleep as I write this, but wish I could have had internet to talk to those I miss.

So where to start?

Staging: its kinda like going to a family reunion for the first time. You all have something in common, but are very different as well. You hear a bit of yourself in everyones stories, anxieties and aspirations.

We had many icebreakers and discussions about what PC expects from us as ambassadors of the US culture. In one game, we all had to organize ourselves by the number and color of stickers on our backs, without talking. While everyone was gesturing and pointing at colors, I soon discovered that I did not belong anyqhere, I had more stickers than everyone else. I felt isolated and confused about what I should be doing. I turned out to be the guinea pig of the group (which can be dangerous in Peru!)
At times, there will be a Peace Corps trainee who feels like they do not fit in with anyone. We are supposed to help out our fellow trainees so that everyone feels welcomed. Just in the past day, I feel that I have made some very great friendships. It was like joining the Evans Scholarship, or Architecture School: I will be with these people through thick and thin, and will love every minute of it.

Some of my "lasts"

Last american dinner- 5 guys and fries: little bacon cheeseburger, mayo, grilled onions, green peppers, tomato, bbq sauce, with cajun seasoned fries. HECK YES!
Last alcoholic drink, Miller light
last late night food- Pizza but of course
Last coffee- cafe americano, starbucks

I am blessed to have my family and friends support my dicision to serve. I love you all and look forward to sharing my expereince with you!

Written on the plane to Lima

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Well there you have it. I have one week to go, and so much I still want to do.
Friday: Rain Barrel workshop with the 300 block of Carlton. Who said I can’t start the water management before I leave the country?
Saturday: Michigan vs. Notre Dame. Under the lights! But more importantly, I will get to see all of my friends from UofM one last time before I leave.
Sunday: The last supper. With my family that is. The next time we will all be together is in October 2012 for my oldest sister’s wedding! I am so excited for her and Sam. Plus, I will have some more brothers, which is always a plus when you grow up with 4 ladies.
Monday: Meeting with my friend from high school to learn about his work in Kenya. Looking forward to more resources! He has been placing bio-filters in different schools for the past year.
Tuesday- Packing. What would you bring if you were leaving the country for two years?
Wednesday- Some final goodbyes
Thursday- Flying to DC. We have a day intensive orientation. I can only imagine what we will learn. I will be working with the Federal Government after all!
Friday- Flying to Lima.
In the meantime, I have been trying to cook Peruvian cuisine. Here is what my Lomo Saltado looks like. It was pretty tasty! The Aji Amarillo pepper has a great taste to it.

Listening to: Ain't no woman like the one I got- Four Tops