Saturday, June 11, 2011
Peace Corps Peru Group 17!
I'm alive and well in a small town in Peru. We're actually not in Chaclacayo, we're 20 miles past it at a beautiful retreat center. I am already realizing that writing a detailed blog, even after only a few days, is just impossible. There is so much to say about even one day. So, I'll try to hit the high-points.
First night in D.C.: I wasn't even done paying for my taxi and opening the door when I heard someone say, "Hey! Are you Amanda?" Peace Corps means instant friends.
Staging/Orientation: What happens when you get a room full of over-achievers trying to impress their new employers on the first day? Some of us were realizing for the first time that while we were usually the one with all the answers in our classes, we were competing to answer in a class full of our peers. It is almost funny how alike we all are, but from such different backgrounds.
Airport/Plane ride: 100lbs of baggage sucks to carry by yourself. A lot. A lot, a lot. And American Airlines must hate the Peace Corps. 52 people ascending on the check-in line, each with two 50 lb bags (except for the over-over achievers who actually followed the rules and only brought what they could carry) was the biggest cluster f*** I have seen thus far. I guess I should get used to it.
Training: We're at a retreat center that is gated and has guard dogs (I think that's a joke...) We got in at midnight and woke up to amazing mountains. It feels like I'm at camp. Learning fun things, playing games, doing ice breakers, getting snacks and coffee-- it's pretty cush. I mean, we still can't drink the water, but we have real toilets and showers (with limited warm water) which is pretty nice. Also, on the way here we saw a lot of the impoverished areas outside of Lima-- blocks upon blocks of what appeared to be abandoned buildings (none of which had roofs or top floors), random fires in the distance, stray dogs walking the streets, and terrible traffic. Training is also nothing like what I'll actually be doing for my time in service, I won't have such strict, full schedules, and I won't even be around everyone here.
Overall: I am having a great time getting to know all of these very cool people and learning about what I'll be doing over the next two-years, but it is still very overwhelming. I like everyone, but I still don't know them well enough to completely let my guard down. Energy levels have to constantly be up, you have to kind of be on your toes, and we've been running on very low sleep. Spanish isn't being spoken a ton yet because not everyone can speak it, but it still takes some concentration for me to get all of what they're saying. I woke up in the middle of the night in a sweat having no idea where I was, and that is always unsettling. I'm still pretty emotional, and I totally burst into tears talking to one of the directors, because he discussed the sexual assault/rape issue during introductions and really helped everyone feel better. I just wanted to thank him for talking about it and I lost it.
I'm nervous about a lot of things, but I also feel a great deal of support for all of the ups and downs.
So far, so good :)
Posted by Amanda at 6:53 PM