Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I just got back from a week of Field Based Training (FBT). The point of FBT is to put trainees in the site of a current volunteer to see what life is like out in the field. During FBT I had the opportunity to teach a class of 33 tech school students about the basics on running a small business. At the end of the three days of class, the students had the opportunity to run their own business simulation by taking out a loan from the “Peace Corps Bank” and running their business for one day in an effort to pay back the loan the next day and also come out with some earnings of their own. Thankfully each of my groups came out ahead and hopefully they learned a thing or two as well. It was challenging trying to teach a business class in Spanish but at the same time, I felt very at home because I had a lot of experience tutoring these same topics during college.
I also learned a lot about what life is really like for a volunteer. The town I spent the majority of my time in was a small village up in the highlands of Cajamarca. The land there was beautiful. You couldn’t look in any direction without seeing a gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains. The people in this town were much more traditional as well. I could tell that the culture has not yet evolved the way it has where I am living in Lima. It was a nice change of pace. The people were very calm and it seemed like a much safer place where everyone knows everyone (reminded me of home).
During my time there I also managed to play in a game of football (soccer). It was team “gringo” against a team of local students. They seemed to be very entertained that the gringos had two girls playing on their team. In countries like Peru it is not very common to have women playing soccer, especially with men. We played hard, and I found it difficult to breathe because the air at that altitude was much thinner. My soccer playing skills are limited to say the least. I wish we had been playing volleyball, but apparently only women play that here… We even had a bench full of gringos cheering us on which was hilarious. The prize for the winning team was a little male goat, and we were determined to win it. We really wanted to be able to bring a goat back to the training center to show our accomplishment…
Needless to say we lost, but only by one point. The goat went to another team. However, we made up for it by performing a dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to an audience of all the students from the Tech Institute we were teaching in. We wanted to perform it as a way for all of us trainees to show our appreciation to the students. I choreographed the dance one morning, and then taught the dance to the other trainees in my group and we performed it at the closing ceremony. It was even more hilarious than the gringo soccer team. Hah! It also felt really nice to choreograph and perform a dance again. It has been about two years since I last took a dance class. For this, I think I will definitely be including dance classes in the work I do in site. I really miss it, and I think it would be a great way to keep busy, and get to know the community. Also I think young girls here might be interested to learn American styles of dance (fingers crossed).
Now I am anxiously awaiting my site assignment. I will know on Friday of this week where I will be spending the next two years and what kind of work I will be doing. Wish me luck! (This picture is with another volunteer, myself, and two of the students we trained during FBT)