So after 2.5 months of planning and pestering, my site-mate and I finally have an approved Plan de Trabajo (Work Plan) to create an Ultimate Frisbee Club here in Caraz. This week, we have begun the advertising process for the new sport by visiting some of the local schools and handing out some awesome flyers made by my very own sister back in the U.S.
So why did we decide to start an Ultimate Frisbee Club? Well, we have several motivations.
Because Ultimate Frisbee is fun and is not a widely known sport here in Perú.
Because Goal 2 of Peace Corps involves teaching Peruvians about U.S. culture and what better way than sharing a treasured sport.
To provide healthy activities to pursue in one’s free time so kids don’t just go home and watch T.V. or play video games in an Internet Cabina.
To promote gender equality among the young people of Caraz.
Perú is home to a lot of machismo, which is the belief that by nature men are superior to women. We hope to incorporate educational sessions and activities within the Frisbee classes to tackle machismo, gender inequality, low self-esteem, and other issues present in the youth of Caraz.
To introduce the concept of Co-Ed sports.
In Caraz, boys play soccer and girls play volleyball, and there isn’t much overlap. We are planning to present Ultimate Frisbee as a co-ed sport to foster positive interactions among young boys and girls, positive interactions that will hopefully be transmitted to friends, classmates, etc.
To make sure the young people of Caraz know they are called Frisbees and not “platillos voladores” (flying plates).
The first class in on Monday, August 1st. Who knows how many will sign up? Who knows how many will show up? At this point, it is all in the air, but at least we are moving forward. Look forward to an update about the first day of classes in a few weeks time.
So it has been quite some time since my last blog post, so I figured a general recap of my work over the last 2 months was long overdue, but unfortunately I’ll only be recapping what I did in September, because otherwise this post would be incredibly long.
I have been playing a lot of soccer and volleyball as of late, and most specifically with the Vaso de Leche group from my neighborhood. Vaso de Leche is a Perú-wide organization in which mothers of children under the age of 6 can receive free milk and Quaker from the Peruvian Government. Vaso de Leche is incredibly important because it helps to ensure that growing children recieve proper nutrition. In order to foster camaraderie among the various Vaso de Leche groups in my provincia (think county), the Municipality of Caraz organized a huge 3-part soccer/volleyball tournament. Being the local gringo, I was of course selected to help train my neighborhoods Vaso de Leche group, and so for quite a few weeks I was playing volleyball/soccer quite regularly with a group of 10-20 moms.
Despite all of our training, we didn’t rank in either Volleyball nor Soccer, so we’ll just have to train harder for next year.
As a way to get to know people in my host community of Inca Huaín/Yuracoto, I started English classes in my house each Saturday afternoon. While the first one or two lessons resulted in about 10-11 students, over the weeks the number of devoted students has dwindled to just 4. With these four students, all girls, we have learned Greetings/goodbyes, colors, animales, numbers, and just this weekend, fruits. These girls, including my host-sister, are really excited to learn, and their enthusiasm has really helped to keep me motivated. In fact, one of my proudest moments as a Peace Corps Volunteer came from a moment in which my 4 students took on the role of teachers, sharing their newfound English knowledge with some other children who showed up at my house with their parents for some sort of political event.
Apart from the English lessons in my house, I have taught English a few times in the local school where we have covered Greetings/goodbyes and a personal favorite, parts of the body, which of course includes Head-Shoulders-Knees-Toes. The kids really enjoy learning songs which is perfect for me since I love to sing songs. During one of the English classes, I gave the students some free time to ask me questions which of course led to questions about my family, my pets, my travels, where I live, etc. The diagram of our conversation can be seen in the image below.
One Sunday, I went fishing in the Río Santa with my host-dad and two local kids. Although I never got the opportunity to cast the net, I did help collect the fish out of the nets and of course, document the entire experience. The experience was quite fun, and I enjoyed seeing some new scenery (and finding some toads).
With all of the fish we caught, we had a lovely fish fry for dinner, and breakfast, and lunch, and dinner again, and breakfast once more, and maybe another lunch.
Trash Management Education:
One of the biggest environmental problems in Perú at the moment is trash management, and consequently, a lot of my work with the Municipality of Caraz has focused on this theme. Coincidentally, trash management is also the third goal of my Peace Corps Program, Community Based Environmental Management. Therefore, I have given some charlas (presentations) to local schools/students about how to conserve/protect the environment and how to properly manage trash. In these presentations, I talked about Climate Change, Environmental Contamination, the 3Rs (Reducir, Reutilizar, Reciclar), and how to properly segregate (organics, inorganics, reciclables, dangerous, etc.) and store trash for proper disposition. These two presentations were my first big presentations for students here in Perú, and I’m really looking forward to continue working with schools during the next 2 years.
During two Saturdays in September, the Municipality organized two community clean-ups, focusing on a different barrio (neighborhood) within Caraz each weekend. The clean ups started bright and early at 6am each morning, and continued until about 11-11:30am, involving mostly just workers from the municipality (although more community members participated in the second event). We cleaned up everything from trash to food waste, and construction waste to the pounds and pounds of dust that abide in Caraz due to the unfinished roads in the upper sections of the city. I successfully managed to break the broom given to me for the clean-up, which happened to be the third broom I have broken in less than 2 months. Oh, and I was also interviewed during the first clean-up event and the footage was shown on the Municipality’s TV cannel.
September 21st was the International Day of Peace, and so to celebrate, my Municipality put together a big parade, which is the #1 way to celebrate any event in Perú. I got an awesome white shirt, got to hold a sign for my Gerencia of the Municipality, and was also on TV again (although only in passing this time). How fitting that a Peace Corps Volunteer got to march in a Peace parade?
As you can probably see, I have been very, very busy the last few months. I have learned a lot, started working on a lot of different projects, and this has only been the briefest of glimpses into my activities thus far. As some of my projects develop further, I will be detailing them up here on my blog.