This past Wednesday was a huge day in Peace Corps world, well at least in the world of Peace Corps Perú 25 trainees. This past Wednesday was the day we received our site assignments, or in other words, the location in which we would be living and working for the next 2 years of our lives. This day has been long awaited by everyone in my training group, and I must say that it was definitely the happiest and most energetic day of training thus far.
We kicked off the morning with a little stalling for time from the training staff, since all of the regional coordinators (they will be our first line of staff support at site) were running a little late. However, the stalling was appreciated because we watched this hilarious video about Peruvians bringing their culture to Perú, Nebraska, and the hilarity that ensues.
Now, on to the good stuff. So around 8:40, all of the regional coordinators arrived and we finally were able to get started, of course going alphabetically by departamento name. First up was Amazonas, followed by Ancash (where I knew I was going), then Cajamarca, Junín/Lima, La Libertad, Lambayeque, and Piura.
If you can’t tell from the photo of my Anca$h crew, I was super happy. After the excitement of finding out who was going to Ancash with me, I managed to calm down and glance through the dossier of my future site, which is…..
Caraz is the capital city of the province of Huaylas (think county), and is located in what is known as the Callejon de Huaylas, or the Huaylas Valley, which is a valley formed between the two mountain ranges that divide Ancash: the Cordillera Negra to the west, and the Cordillera Blanca, to the east. Ancash is an incredibly beautiful departamento and well renowned for it’s snow capped peaks, glacial lakes, and absolutely incredible hiking and trekking. Also, Ancash is coincidentally the first province to ever host Peace Corps Volunteers in Perú, way back in 1962. But, I’ll talk more about Ancash in a future blog post.
My site, Caraz, is known as Caraz Dulzura by most Ancashinos (people of Ancash) because it is well renowned for its sweets and ice-cream (music to my ears!). The city has about 28,000 people, with about half living within the city itself and the other half in the surrounding rural areas. The weather is fairly mild compared to other Ancash sierra sites because it lies in a valley, and is only at ~2200 meters of altitude, but there is still a strong rainy season that lasts from about November to April.
In terms of my job, I will primarily be working with the Municipality in Caraz to help implement a solid waste management program that they just recently started. They have a location designated for a landfill, but still need to improve the facility as well as launch a city-wide trash separation campaign to educate people about how to separate their trash (recyclables, organics, waste, etc.). The municipality even has it’s own radio and tv channel, so I hope to eventually hit the air (in Quechua and Spanish) to teach people how to segregate trash. In addition to working with the municipality, it seems likely I will be working with some of the local schools in areas of environmental education, tree planting, and maybe even teaching some English. With my site, it seems like the possibilities are endless right now, but I’m sure I’ll have a much better idea of what I want to do, and what I can do, once I move out there in a few weeks and get started.
Now, while my work will center around Caraz, I will actually be living in a smaller community about 15 minutes away by bike with a host family. While I haven’t met my family yet (I will in about 2 weeks), I do know that I have a mom, dad, little sister (9), and little brother (4). I was really excited to find out that I would have little siblings because I brought Play Doh and bubbles with me from the states, but haven’t had anyone to give them to yet. I’m hoping that my host family will speak both Quechua and Spanish so that I can continue to practice both in site, but I guess I’ll have to wait a few more weeks to find out!
If you have any questions about my site, leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them based on the information I have!
Look out for blog posts in the future about my site/Ancash once I actually arrive, and until then.
P.S. I hope you guys caught the Peace/Peace Corps pun.