Today marks completing the 3rd week of my Peace Corps training and 3 weeks without eating peanut butter, both are still hard to believe. In less than a month, I have made 50+ new friends, moved in with strangers I now call my family, embarrassed myself with my (lack of) Spanish and learned more than I could have ever imagined. There is no “normal” day in Peace Corps training, but the following is a typical day for me so far.
6:15am: Wake up to my first alarm and hit snooze (some things never change)
6:20am: Get out of bed and get ready. “Getting ready” includes throwing my hair up (no blow dryer, minimal hair straightening) and almost no makeup. Dress at training is causal or business casual, it depends on the day
6:45am: Eat my desyauno, which normally consists of pan and huevos
7:00am: Meet my friends at the combi stop. The combi is one of the most common forms of public transportation here in Peru
7:10am: It normally takes a few tries, but we can usually find a combi we can all fit on
7:11am: Rethink the concept of personal space and dream of wide open spaces
7:35am: Arrive at the centro de capacitación after a short walk from the combi stop. One of the main reasons we get there early is to make coffee. Priorities.
8:00am-5:00pm: Training! Our training consists of…
Medical: Every week we have a session with our PCMOs (Peace Corps Medical Officers). This team has been working together for several years and they are super helpful! I have a lot of confidence in their ability to help any volunteer with whatever health condition may arise, no matter how big or small. In addition, the team has a great sense of humor, which makes these conversations easier. Did you know diarrhea isn’t worth calling the doctor for unless you’ve had it for over 14 days? Yikes. I will spare you the images, but we’ve seen more alarming pictures of medical conditions to last a lifetime. Did you know that a spider bite could discolor your entire thigh? Me either.
DIVE: The DIVE technique is used to help us understand the new culture we are living in and to help avoid coming to incorrect conclusions about our new home and its people. DIVE stands for D(escribe), I(nterprete), V(erfiy), E(valuate). This training is done through observations, hands on activities and group discussion.
Safety & Security: Crime happens everywhere but when you are living in a country where there is 0% chance of you blending in, safety becomes an even bigger concern. Over our 12 week training, we will be educated on safety concerns, reporting procedures, volunteer resources, and everything in between. These aren’t fun conversations to have, but they are important.
Technical Training: This portion of our training relates to our Goal 1 program, which is Community Economic Development in my case. The majority of our technical training will be in the coming weeks, so hold tight for more info. Peace Corps Peru currently works in the areas of Community Economic Development, Water & Sanitation, Youth Development, Environment and Community Health. Unfortunately, the Environment program is in its final year, but there are still a few volunteers in Peru.
Language: Over the past 3 weeks, it seems like most of our time has been spent in language class. My language class is facilitated by an extremely patient mujer, Cristina! She is Peruvian and speaks English too, but it’s rare that we hear any English from her. She has been an awesome facilitator and kudos to her for putting up with 6 crazy gringos in her class. I laugh a lot in general, but I probably laugh more in this portion of training than any other. We have a running joke that “Gringos understand gringos”. Somehow us volunteers are able to understand each other, no matter how far off the words/grammar of the Spanish sentence are. I’m super thankful to be learning in a supportive environment, it takes a lot of the pressure off.
5:00pm-6:00pm: Fit Corps time! After sitting all day, movement is necessary. A group of us volunteers will head to the park to workout. Some of us run, others play fútbol and some do resistance workouts. Gotta burn off all those carbs somehow!
6:00pm-7:00pm: Wrap up at the training center and head home
7:00pm-10:00pm: The evenings are when I spend time with my host family. There is always someone home, which makes coming home fun! My host mom makes dinner around 8:00pm and we eat together as a family. After dinner, I normally have some studying to do, but I can be easily distracted by playing cards with mi hermano anfitrionó; it’s one of my favorite parts of my day. We play a game I learned as a kid called “speed”. While we play, we listen to music on my iPhone. A lot of times it is a surreal experience to realize I am sitting in a house in Peru, playing a card game I learned when I was 10, with my Peruvian brother I met 3 weeks ago. I’m coming to learn that it is going to be the small things like this that make these two years so meaningful. After cards, it is bedtime. If I can stay awake until 10pm, it’s a miracle, but considering how packed our days are, I appreciate the 8 hours of sleep.