Martes de Música: Rock Peruano

This week, I am once again late because this past Tuesday I was away all day visiting a school in another district of my province. Considering this trend, I might have to eventually change the name of this series to Miércoles de Música.

While most of the music I’ve been promoting so far has been traditional music, influenced by the diverse culture of Perú, this week we are highlighting a different musical genre of which I am sure many of you are quite familiar: rock music.

Rock music is very popular in many parts of Perú, and in fact when I arrived to live with my first host family in Lima, they were enormous fans of many famous rock groups like the Rolling Stones or AC/DC. So, it is only natural that a few rock groups eventually emerged in Perú to develop Perú’s very own rock music heritage.

Today, per recommendation of my host uncle, I am highlighting the Peruvian rock group, Mar de Copas, which formed in Lima back in 1992. They have released a few albums throughout the years, but today I am highlighting one of their earlier songs, Mujer de Noche (Night Woman, or Woman of the Night), at my host-uncle’s request. It’s quite catchy, and reminds me of another rock song in English, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

So without further ado, Mujer de Noche by Mar de Copas.

I hope you enjoyed the music.

Until next time,

MGB

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Foto Friday: Green Spaces and Sustainability

As an environmental management Peace Corps Volunteer, my three work goals have to do with Environmental Education, Natural Resource Management, and Solid Waste Management. While most of my work has been centered in the Municipality with trash management, this year I branched out and begun working in the largest school in Caraz, I.E. Micelino Sandoval Torres.

Over the past few months, I have been working with the Environmental Committee of teachers to elaborate an integrated environmental plan to implement in the school for this year. The plan has various activities ranging from presentations about the environment, improving the school’s trash management system, and teaching the kids about proper personal hygiene. However, another important component of the plan is the creation of more green areas and spaces within the school. After lots of planning in the elaboration of the plan, 2 weeks ago we finally took our first steps to achieve the goal of making the school greener.

At the beginning of June, the school Director, a few teachers of the Environmental committee, and myself walked around the grounds of the school to identify all of the free spaces which currently lacked greenery and maintenance. In total, we identified 21 spaces within the school, 21 spaces which were photographed and then marked on a map to be distributed to the different teachers. Below you can see one of the larger areas available within the school; as you can see, there is a lot that can be done in the space.

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I wonder what this will look like in a few weeks/months.

Last week, the Environmental Committee began distributing the map with corresponding photos among the different elementary and high school teachers so that each teacher can claim a space for their students. The idea is that one (or a few) class(es) will be responsable for each area within the school, using the spaces to plant grass, trees, flowers, or even to create a garden to produce some vegetables for the school breakfast system known as Qaliwarma.

The hope is that in the following weeks, the teachers and students will begin formulating and implementing their plans, and that by the end of the school year in December, the school with have a much greener and healthier look. Hopefully in a few months I will be able to post some photos of the before & after shots of the school.

While elaborating the environmental plan with the teachers took a while, it was worthwhile since the projects and activities implemented won’t be of my own design, but rather of the teachers. Yes, I will be helping with the activities, and yes, I may have helped with some of the organization of the environmental plan, but at the end of the day, the plan was made by the teachers and will be implemented by them. As Peace Corps Volunteers we are here to develop capacities and work sustainably, and while this is the longer and less traveled road in development, for me it seems worth it despite the challenges.

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: Huayno Ancashino

Once again, my Martes de Música comes a tad late, but internet isn’t always available, and so you do the best that you can.

This week we return to the world of Huayno, a type of Peruvian folk music from the Andes. The singer and song featured this week are fairly representative of Huaynos Ancashinos, or Huaynos from Áncash, the department where I work. While many younger people enjoy Cumbia and Reggaeton, most of the older population, especially in more rural areas, are fans of Huayno all the time. There are many radio stations that play puro huayno (only Huayno), and it is extremely common to hear Huayno on everyone’s radios as I walk around my community.

This style of music is also quite popular at town fiestas (parties), where everyone will dance Huayno along with the music. Dancing to Huaynos generally means casually stomping your feet while moving back and forth, never looking your dance partner in the eye, and then stomping more vigorously when the music gets more jovial, about 2/3 of the way through.

So for this week, enjoy a traditional Andean Huayno.

I must say, while at first I was not a fan of Huayno, the style quickly grew on me (and many other Volunteers).

I hope you enjoyed the music.

Until next time,

MGB

Foto Friday: On the Radio

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, a lot of our work involves repetition. We give a presentation about how to separate trash, and then have to give another one, and then bug people multiple times until some of them finally adapt the practice, if only for a short while.

However, you can’t just give the same presentation over and over again, because as we all know, that would be boring. You have to know your audience, tailor your words to impact them; elementary school kids can’t be taught the same as parents in a rural community. But more importantly, you need to be creative, think of different ways in which you can spread your messages.

Here in Caraz, we are fortunate to have several different forms of public communication, each of which I have slowly but surely been taking advantage of in order to share environmental messages with the wider community. Firstly, we have a Municipal TV station that shows movies, documentaries, and footage of the different events and activities that the Municipality puts together. Recently, thanks to a little help, they have begun showing Planet Earth in Spanish so that the community of Caraz can see a bit more of the world and learn more about nature. In addition to the T.V. channel, we also have several radio stations, and it is the radio that I am highlighting today with my Foto Friday post.

I have had the fortune to talk with my community counterparts on 3 of the radio stations here in Caraz, spreading different environmental messages. Below, is a photo of me and two workers from the UGEL-Huaylas (Local Unit of Educational Management) on the UGEL’s weekly radio show. They take advantage of the space each week to talk about different educational initiatives and highlight different schools in the province.

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That day, I had the fortune to attend and talk about Climate Change, the start of the school year, and give a shout out to all of the schools that had committed to working on environmental initiatives in their schools for this year. Since then, I have been able to talk on this show, and a few others about different environmental topics such as recycling, trash management, environmental contamination, and water pollution.

When I joined the Peace Corps, I never once imagined that I would be talking on radio shows to promote environmental awareness, but I must say, it is quite fun. I’m hoping to work with my counterparts to take advantage of the TV and Radio more in the future, because they are great mediums for promoting environmental awareness and maybe even teach some new skills.

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: No Te Vayas

This week’s Martes de Música, or rather Miércoles de Música since I’m a bit late, goes out to the Cumbia group, Grupo Ráfaga, which is actually from Argentina, and not Perú. The group found its start way back in 1994, and has been going quite strong, having produced over 14 different albums throughout the years.

However, despite having originated in another country, the group and their songs are quite popular here in Perú; you would be hard pressed to attend any cumbia concert here in Perú and NOT hear one of their popular songs, such as No Te Vayas or their recent hit, Una Cerveza (this will be shared for another time).

Today, I am spotlighting No Te Vayas (Don’t Go or Don’t Leave Me), again one of my favorites here in Perú and a staple of many “copy groups” or other Cumbia groups here in Perú. This song is essentially about love and heartbreak; a man telling his girlfriend not to leave him because she is “who fills him with passion, is his light, and his whole world”. Check out the lyrics here, and feel free to give them a good old Google translate.

Without further ado, No Te Vayas by Grupo Ráfaga!

Hope you enjoyed the music!

Until next time,

MGB

A Friend Comes to Visit

Last March, I was lucky enough to have a friend from the U.S. come visit me here in Perú. We spent about 1 week together, hanging out in my site, Caraz, and getting to know some other sites and scenes here in Áncash. So, in order to get a different perspective about Perú, here is a guest blog post from my friend Nish about his time here in Áncash. Since Nish is incredibly busy with Medical School, I made the Guest Blog easy on him by writing up a few interview questions to answer. I hope you all enjoy!

1)   What’s your name and what’s your current job? 

Nish Pandya and  Medical Student at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College.

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Budding Doctor Nish, overlooking the Río Santa behind my house.

2)   How do you know the PCV?

(I’m guessing this means Peace Corps Volunteer). Despite graduating from rival high schools, Mark and I both met as freshmen at Penn State University. We were both heavily involved in a service organization and were roommates during our senior year. 

3)   What did you know about Perú before your visit?

My greatest exposure to Peru before the visit must have been from watching The Emperors’s New Groove. Through high school Spanish courses we had learned countries and capitals, so I could locate it on a map but not much else.

4)   What did you learn about Perú from your visit?

Mark had mentioned this, but life really did seem to move a step slower in Peru. As a “Northeasterner” at heart, it was a stark difference that stood out. The views and natural beauty of the Ancash region I had the opportunity to see made me wonder if stock photos for “awesome sights” are taken in Peru.

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Nish at Laguna Querococha on our way to the Chavín Arqueological Site

5) What was your favorite dish you tried?

Whenever I travel, my goal is to try something I probably will not have the chance to eat again. This made me excited to try guinea pig for the first time.

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Trying cuy (guinea pig) for the first time

6)   What do you think of the PCV’s work in his site?

It didn’t surprise me after having known Mark for 5 years, but Mark seemed to have a positive and friendly relationship with so many people he came across at his site. He was continually running into people he knew and it really helped me see how much Mark had tried to become part of the community. I enjoyed listening to the many plans Mark was continually balancing and trying to execute, which really showed the impact he wanted to make with a multi-pronged approach. 

7)   What is your favorite memory from the trip?

Another Peace Corps Volunteer gave us an oral history of the avalanche at Yungay while walking through the area it affected. Hearing that story at its site was a really memorable part of my trip.

8)   What did you know about Peace Corps before your visit? What did you learn about Peace Corps from your visit?

The camaraderie between the Peace Corps Volunteers was really wonderful to see. In theory, each volunteer has a different background but shares the desire to make a positive impact on the people and community they live with. Seeing the power of a shared goal bring people together was powerful to see.

9)   What is your favorite breakfast cereal?

Honey Bunches of Oats

10)  If you could be any Pokémon, which would you be and why?

I would be Farfetch’d because few people would believe I was a Pokemon.

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Farfetch’d, the Wild Duck Pokémon (http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/es.pokemon/images/b/b5/Farfetch’d.png/revision/latest?cb=20080908162845)

11)  Is there anything else you would like to share?

Nah i’m good.

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I hope you enjoyed hearing a friend’s perspective on his time in Perú. Look out for another guest blog post in the next few weeks about a few more friends who came to visit in May.

Until next time,

MGB

 

Foto Friday: Pastoruri Glacier & Climate Change

If you didn’t know, Perú is ranked #3 in terms of countries most at-risk for the effects of climate change. Even only having lived here for a little over a year, the evidence of Climate Change is quite apparent; the once consistent dry and rainy seasons are now changing significantly from year to year. On top of this, an abundance of anecdotal evidence from rural communities as well as verified scientific data, shows that in many parts of Áncash and all of Perú, temperatures are more extreme than before, and weather patterns are different. In Perú, the most notable evidence of climate change would have to be the melting of glaciers along Perú’s Cordillera Blanca, which is a part of the Andes Chain.

During Holy Week in March, I had the chance to visit some touristy locations in Áncash with a few other Volunteers. The first place we visited was the Pastoruri Glacier, perhaps the most prominent example of the effects of Climate Change here in Áncash. Believe it or not, the Pastoruri Glacier used to be a skiing destination here in Perú, but as you can see in the photo below, there isn’t much left to ski on. To give you an idea of how big the glacier used to be, most of the black areas in the photo below used to be covered in ice and snow.

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Pastoruri Glacier in Huascarán National Park, Áncash, Perú

The Pastoruri Glacier is such a prime example of the effects of climate change, that they even established a Climate Change Route at the visitor’s center and along the walk to the Glacier in order to educate visitors about the effects of Climate Change in Perú.

As an environmental Volunteer, it is disheartening looking up at the various snow-capped mountains in Áncash, knowing that in 20, 30, 50 years, they might have all disappeared or at least become shadows of their former selves, as has Pastoruri. Climate Change is a global concern, but I think we, as humans, often think it is such a large, overwhelming problem, that there is nothing we can do on an individual level to contribute to the solution.

However, there is one simple way in which communities all across the world can “fight” Climate Change; plant a tree. Most scientists agree that Climate Change is occurring due to the increase of CO2 (once trapped underground as fossil fuels) and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. So how does planting a tree help? Well, trees absorb CO2 in order to grow, and therefore serve as Carbon Sinks, taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and instead “trapping” it in their woody bodies. Plus, when we plant trees, we get all of the other benefits such as increased Oxygen production, soil conservation, shade, water conservation, water purification, etc.

So maybe it is too late for Pastoruri, and maybe it is too late for the rest of the glaciers here in Perú, but I hope that we as a global society can do something to curb the speed of Climate Change, whether that be by planting trees or switching over to renewable energies.

Until next time,

MGB

P.S. Get out there and plant some trees; fighting climate change one tree at a time.