Free Banana Toast, Friends Baking Together, Fabulous Bro Time… Okay, none of these are actual acronyms in the Peace Corps, but Field Based Training is the newest acronym in my Peace Corps vocabulary. A few volunteers and I were joking this past week that we’ll be trilingual by the end of our service. English is our first language, Spanish is our second, and Peace Corps acronyms will be our third. There are so many and it’s insanely confusing at first, but it makes life a lot easier once you catch on. Here is an example for you:
Peace Corps Lingo: “Today my LCF conducted my LPI, which is a requirement for my TAP.”
Translation: “Today my Language & Culture Facilitator conducted my Language Proficiency Interview, which is a requirement for my Trainee assessment Profile.”
Anyways, back to the actual FBT. This past week our group of 44 trainees was divided into 4 groups and went to various regions in Perú. The goal of this week-long trip was to give us an insight into what Peace Corps life is like outside of our training bubble and apply what we are learning to a potential site. My group was placed in Cascas, La Libertad, which is about 10 hours away from Lima by bus.
Photo by Marina Sandoval
We took the night bus both ways and it was fancy! Our seats reclined 180 degrees, we soaked up some wifi, and we could watch movies. Of course, I just slept. Cascas is a beautiful town in the mountains of Peru and known for uvas, which means there is a lot of wine in town. You could think of it as the Napa Valley of Perú, but here wine costs less than water.
Photo by Trent Davis
During our week-long stay, we worked in pairs and taught an entrepreneurship workshop. To be honest, it was a little overwhelming at first. We had three days (9 hours in total) to teach three months of material to 25 students. The goal of the course was to have students create and execute their own business plans. The Peace Corps training staff is constantly telling us to lower our expectations for our results in site, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the business plans. There were three groups in our class and all turned a profit! I suppose I shouldn’t play favorites, but I was most impressed by the group that created their own marmalade company. They ended up with about $60 USD profit to split amongst themselves.
Aside from our teaching, we spent a lot of time in the community learning about the current volunteer’s work, meeting her counterparts and of course, eating. When aren’t we eating? Unfortunately, some of that food got us sick. 8 out of 12 of us to be exact. One by one we were taken out. Some say it was our meal at ‘Chicken Palace’ and others put their money on our lunches at a local restaurant. Regardless of where the bacteria came from, this was a rough experience that left me in bed for about 24 hours straight. We all knew getting sick was inevitable, I just didn’t think it would happen so soon.
Another cool aspect of FBT was the time we had to explore new areas in Perú. We spent a total of 2 days in Trijullo, which is the regional capital of La Libertad. A few of the Peace Corps staff members are from the area, so they were able to provide some recommendations on places to check out or eat at (I told you, we are always eating!). This day was definitely a “treat yo self” kind of day, also known as Posh Corps. We had hot showers & wifi in our hotel, went to Starbucks (they still spelled my name wrong. Different country, same struggle), and had sushi for dinner. The good thing about treatin’ yo self in Perú is that it is generally still cheaper than the US. For example, at dinner I had sushi and a huge salad for less than $10. But we are on a Peace Corps stipend, so we can’t do this too often.
We’re back to our normal training schedule now and time is moving fast. This week we will find out our final site placements, aka the place where I will live and serve for the next 2 years. It’s both terrifying and exciting; now I know what Harry Potter felt like when ‘The Sorting Hat’ was put on his head. Now if only there was a province in Perú named Gryffindor…
Stay tuned for more information about my final site placement, humorous Spanish mistakes and navigating a foreign country.
Jenna (aka Yenna due to Spanish pronunciation)