Enter Fall

March 27, 2008 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Life is trucking along here in Peru. I’m used to being drenched in sweat, or walking under a sweltering sun. I’m no longer fazed by large frightening biting bugs, and will occasionally refrain from crossing to the other side of the street if a dog is walking my way (though if it is really big, or if there are two or more dogs, I’ll still cross the street). My English classes are continuing and are going well, though I’m moving into grammar and verb conjugation that I’m not quite trained to teach, so I’m scouring around for lesson plans on the internet. Grammar was always a favorite of mine, so luckily I’m not at a complete disadvantage.

My monthly workshops with the artisans (thus far we’ve covered a work-plan, leadership, self-esteem and motivation, and conflict resolution) are at about a B minus. Not entirely my fault; for one, only half of the artisans will show up for any given workshop, second, its hard to gage whether the things we cover are being put into action, or if there are a lot of nodding heads, and in one ear out the other. The big capital “G” Goal of a Peace Corps volunteer is to develop projects and programs that are sustainable, and that is something that is so hard to measure. First of all, you need lots of time to see whether behaviors and attitudes are changing, second of all, even after a stretch of time, it’s so damn intangible. It would be easy and so satisfying to find a buyer for the products, or to just create a web-page, or systemize their accounting for them. It would also definitely leave them in a better situation than they were when I arrived, but instead, I’m planning workshops and classes on accounting, on marketing, on conversing with clients, so they can take those big leaps themselves. The question remains…will those leaps ever be made?

For now, I’m still on-board with the prescribed Peace Corps methodology; throwing myself into the work, and at the one-year point (5 months away!), I’ll step back and evaluate how far (if at all) we’ve come. Outside of my work with the artisans, I’m definitely playing a more active role in my projects; teaching English to kids who will probably forget it within six months after I leave, planning nutrition and health lectures for (instead of with) the woman who delivers food and milk out to the poorer casarios, So I’m not exactly giving them fish, and I’m not exactly teaching them how to fish, it’s somewhere in the middle.

Last week was holy week here in Peru, and I celebrated, like any good Jew would, by going to the beach with my friends! We went to a little beach town called Pacasmayo which is two hours south of Chiclayo. It was a great little town, but a lot of the buildings and structures seemed abandoned and deteriorated. I guess they are in a flux of a declining fishing industry and a burgeoning tourist industry, but I hope they can re-invest some of what they are making from tourists into the town because it definitely has a lot of potential. It was a great time, and really relaxing. It is shocking to realize how much I have come to care for and appreciate my fellow volunteers after such a short time of knowing each other, but the bonds really make themselves known when you see each other once again.

International Ladies Day

March 13, 2008 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

You must forgive  me for being a fair-weather blogger. Lately it has been too hot to sit at a computer long enough to write something either intelligible or worthwhile. I´ve taken to counting mosquito bites in the evenings and that is taking up most of my free time.

Saturday was el Día Internacional de la Mujer or International Women´s Day and I took part in a celebration in a small town 1.5 hours north of Túcume called los Olmos. You may perchance have seen or heard that northern Perú was getting unusual amounts of rainfall this year, especially on the coast. Apparently unusual amounts of rain make for a big parade of insects up in Olmos; you cannot walk ten steps without stepping on a giant cricket-like bug. I say cricket-like because here in Peru the “crickets” fly which is not so cricket-like.

The oddest part about the uncanny amount of bugs was walking into the church in Olmos and seeing hundreds of them either dead or crawling around on the floor, occasionally flying up and attaching themselves uninvited to someone´s back or ponytail. It all seemed very apocalyptic.

For the celebration, several representatives from the string of towns leading up to Olmos from Chiclayo were present. There was a parade at night with candles and another one in the morning with balloons and banners. My slight skepticism regarding the event was quickly overwhelmed by bubbling pride when people stepped out of their homes to cheer us along in the parade. In a country so full of machismo, where a woman cannot walk two blocks without getting catcalled or worse, it was heart-warming to see people cheer on the women of northern Lambayeque, albeit only for a short while. It was a small step, but a step in the right direction.

The woman I went with from Tucume is hoping to organize a similar fair in Tucume next year. I hesitate to get my hopes up because it is a lot of work and preparation, but I am praying we can pull it off because it would be an enormous accomplishment for me and for the town as a whole.

In other news, it turns out I am a pretty decent English teacher. On only 3-4 hours a week the artisans (those who show up) seem to be learning a lot. Unfortunately I do not really enjoy teaching English that much, but I suppose everything has its pros and cons. Last week I had class outside to take advantage of the afternoon breeze in what remains a VERY hot summer and some English tourists showed up. They were conversing in bits and pieces with the artisans which was definitely a feel-good moment for me, and for them as well I believe. One guy asked me if I was married, thinking the artisans would not understand him, and they all cracked up laughing. I love those goofy ladies. It made for a good laugh, and, hey,  I will take whatever I can get in teaching aids.

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