Unless you have physically been living under a rock in the United States for the past 18 years, you have probably heard something about Harry Potter. If you are completely lost, here is a short version. Boy is born. Boy’s parents die. Boy grows up with mean aunt & uncle. Boy finds out he is a wizard. Boy goes to Hogwarts. Boy makes friends. Boy spends rest of adolescent life battling magic forces with his two best friends. You’re welcome 😉
When Harry and his friends first began their studies at Hogwarts, they were placed into houses for the following years by The Sorting Hat. The magical hat is put on their head and based off each students’ personality, the hat places them accordingly.
Unfortunately, Peace Corps does not have a magical hat that decides where we will serve, but we do have Program Managers that do essentially the same thing. During the first 6 weeks of our training, we have interviews with our Program Managers to discuss our preferences for site placement. During my first interview, I was fairly open about where I wanted to go and my site preferences (willingness to serve, am I right?), but by the time of our second interview I had more concrete requests (please send me to a large site with a site mate and in the mountains. A little demanding, I know.). There are a lot of factors that go into site preferences, but here are a few of the questions that we were asked.
- Would you prefer a small, medium, or large site? Sites range from 500-55,000 people
- Would you prefer to be on the coast, in the mountains, or the rainforest?
- What type of climate would you prefer? Temperatures range from 50 – 100+ degree
- Would you like a volunteer site-mate or live in the community on your own?
- Would you like to be a replacement or new volunteer?
The week that our sites were announced was an anxious one for sure. The weeks leading up to site assignment day, I felt pretty relaxed. I will end up where I am supposed to be, right? When the day came around to find out where I would be serving for the next two years, I was filled with a mix of nerves and excitement. Our training group gathered in one of our meeting rooms and we sat in front of a table with 44 cards on it. Each card had a site name on the front and a trainees name on the inside. One by one our regions were called up and we found out our home for the next two years.
There are a little over 20 volunteers in the CED (community economic development) program, so it is nearly impossible to accommodate all our requests, but overall our CED group seemed to be pleased with their placements. Now, the moment you have ALL been waiting so patiently for (and my ALL, I mostly mean my mom), here is some information about my site:
Site: Santiago de Chuco
Region: La Libertad, Peru
Population: Between 5,000-6,000 (does not include the roaming chickens)
Elevation: 10,000 feet
I am the first business volunteer in this community, so it’s time to get to work and hike/bike some mountains!