A Day In The Life

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.

much love,

Jenna

Advertisements

24

Tomorrow is my 24th birthday. One year ago, I was swinging at a piñata in Malibu, CA and right now I am watching a 12 year old dance in the living room of my host family´s home in Peru. It´s amazing what a year can bring and where life will take you. I´ve only officially been a Peace Corps Trainee (PCT) for one week. ONE WEEK. I can´t believe the whirlwind it has been and how much happened in seven days. In honor of turning 24, here are 24 of my initial thoughts, observations and tales of Peru.

  1. I´m living with my host mom, grandma (64), grandpa (70), two cousins (12 & 17), one brother (12) , and two cats (age unknown) . Full house!
  2. I will be living in Huascata, Chaclacayo, Lima for my 3 months of training.
  3. Our PC training consists of sessions on the subjects of language, technical skills, diversity & culture, health & security and cultural immersion. We have training Monday – Friday from 8am to 5pm.
  4. The chances of all 44 of the trainees getting diarrhea in the next 27 months is 100%.
  5. Based off the previous 26 Peace Corps groups in Peru, an alarming amount of volunteers will also poop their pants at some point. Cool.
  6. Our training group consists of trainees from all over the country, ranging in age from 20 years old – Empty Nesters.
  7. A “combi” is my main form of transportation. Unless you are my Mom, feel free to google “Combi Peru”.
  8. Peace Corps was in Peru from 1962 – 1975 and returned in 2002.
  9.  Regardless what country you are in, kids still get in trouble for texting at the dinner table. Don´t worry, it wasn´t me.
  10. My brother and I bonded over music on my first day here. One of his favorite bands is Nirvana. He also plays guitar, sings well and knows the lyrics to NSYNC´s “This I Promise You”. I´m sure he is a total ladies man at school.
  11. On my first day with my host mom, I said “Yo necesito comprar sopa para mi ropa”. That translates to “I need to buy soup for my clothes.” I meant to say “I need to buy soap for my clothes”. Brain fart.
  12. I brought too much stuff with me to Peru.
  13. This week I got some birthday shots! No tequila, just Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies, and Typhoid. Ya know, the usual.
  14. Originally, I was worried about not being able to celebrate my birthday, but turns out I share my birthday with two other chicas in our training group! Super stoked to celebrate with them tomorrow!
  15. Speaking of birthdays, 5 other members of my (extended) host family have a birthday in May too. Fiestas!
  16. There are six regions that I could be placed in for my two years of service. These include Piura, Junín, Cajamarca, La Libertad, Ancash, or Lambayeque. All have pros and cons, so only time will tell!
  17. During a commercial break while watching a movie about zombies, my host brother turned to me and asked “What do you think came first, the chicken or the egg?” He thinks the chicken.
  18. I will be washing my clothes by hand for the next 27 months. This makes me re-think if I can wear those jeans JUST ONE more time.
  19. Leche de 7 semillas is a common beverage that I have for breakfast. I like it!
  20. My host family doesn´t drink coffee. Don´t worry, us volunteers already started a community coffee pot at our training site.
  21. To be honest, I have been going to bed around 9pm this past week. Thinking in two languages is EXHAUSTING.
  22. We visited a school today and the selfie craze is still going strong, but I have yet to see a selfie stick in Peru.
  23. I love the music here! I don´t understand it all (yet), but it´s so catchy.
  24. This past week has been insane, but I am so incredibly excited to continue on this journey for the next two years.

much love,

Jenna

Diving In

Earlier this month I went skydiving for the first time. This is something I have wanted to do for quite a while, but the timing never seemed to work out quite right. When a group of friends from work were talking about going, I knew this was my chance to go, so I had to jump on the opportunity. We made our reservation for the weekend before I moved home; it would be my last California adventure.

When we showed up to the airport the nerves began to set in. After watching a safety video and looking at pictures hanging in the office, the reality of jumping out of a plane set in. I was going to willingly jump out of a plane at 13,000 feet. We geared up, got in the plane and took off. Cue freakout. What if the parachute doesn’t open? What if we don’t land correctly? What if I am part of the 0.0007% of the population that doesn’t live to tell the story? Fast forward 15 minutes and I was back on the ground filled with adrenaline and a smile on my face; I was so happy I did it!

12924577_10153568911652799_9128936929724334452_n

There came a point up there in that plane that I had to give up control of what was about to happen. I watched the training videos, followed the guidance of the instructor, but even with my preparations, I still had no idea what to expect while jumping head first into the unknown (at 120 mph). That feeling I had up in that plane is where I am right now with leaving for the Peace Corps. I more or less have done everything I can to prepare for my move to Peru, but the unknown of what is yet to come still exists.

What exact projects will I be working on? I don’t know.                                                               What will my host family be like? I don’t know.                                                                                Where in Peru will I be placed? I don’t know.                                                                                       How will I learn to salsa with two left feet? I REALLY don’t know.

But just like that parachute caught me while skydiving, I know I will have the support system in Peru to pull me back up and keep me safe as I head into the unknown. The unknown can be one of the scariest places to venture off into, but it often brings us the greatest rewards in life. In the words of the band Needtobreathe, “If you never leave home, never let go, you’ll never make it to the great unknown. Keep your eyes open, my love.”

Eight days til Peru, vamos!