While the retreat was busy, it was also very fun and a great introduction into Peru and the Peace Corps experience. We had diversity exercises, safety and security meetings, and reviewed many of the expectations of Peace Corps volunteers, all the while diving into Peruvian food which, if you haven’t heard, is incredibly tasty.
On Saturday, we had our first of many breakout sessions with our Peace Corps sectors. I belong to MAC (Manejo Ambiental Comunitario ~ Community Based Environmental Management) and our program coordinator is Diego Shootbridge, an enthusiastic, straight-shooting Peruvian with years of experience in environmental work. He broke down the focus of our sector into 3 areas via an easy to remember mantra: Education, Trees, Garbage (look out for a blog post with this title in the future). He talked about his expectations for MAC volunteers and his high hopes for us, MAC 25, the last MAC group to be sent to Peru (save the best for last, I hope!).
In addition to work, there was also a lot of play, and many moments that showed me what a special group of people I will be working with throughout training, and hopefully the next two years. Some highlights of the weekend include several games of Cards Against Humanity (Peace Corps Trainees make surprisingly good CAH players), a mock-graduation ceremony for those who had to miss graduation because of service, birthday cards for the two birthdays of the weekend, a fantastic game of soccer on a concrete court (I had 3 goals, and most importantly an great time), a late night campfire complete with guitar, plastic trashcan drums, trumpet, and sing-alongs, and our training host family (familia anfitriona) assignments.
It was a great weekend and a fantastic way to kick off the Peace Corps experience. I have definitely made some great connections and friendships among my fellow volunteers already, and I’m looking forward to developing them as time continues.