The Northern Coast

The Northern Coast
The Northern Coast--photo by Zack Thieman

Sunday, September 11, 2011

World Wise Schools; Hello Challis Jr.High 7th and 8th graders!

When I accepted my invitation to the Peace Corps, I was given information on an organization within PC called World Wise Schools. WWS is an optional program that partners volunteers with a teacher and classroom in the U.S. to correspond with during their two-year service. It can be any grade and any subject, and a volunteer can also specifically request teachers they know. I decided it was a great opportunity to share what I’m doing with my community back home, so I partnered up with Mrs. Phillips, my 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher, high school track coach, and someone I consider a leader in the community.  So, I’m dedicating this blog-post to the 7th and 8th grade students of Challis Jr. High School in Mrs. Phillips’ Social Studies class.

Hello 7th and 8th graders of Challis Jr. High!

Allow me to introduce myself:

My name is Amanda, I’m 25-years-old, and I grew up in Challis, Idaho. But right now, I’m in Peru, South America serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer for the next two years. I am going to be corresponding with your class with Mrs. Phillips over the school year, and you’re going to be learning about Peru while following my adventures as I navigate my way through a new country and culture.

Before I tell you more about why I’m in Peru and what it means to be a Peace Corps Volunteer, let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I come from a family of six with three-older brothers, and my family moved from Oregon to Challis when I was about 4-years-old. While my brothers and I have all graduated from CHS and moved away, my parents still live there today, and I still consider Challis home. 

7th grade 
I had Social Studies with Mrs. Phillips as well when I was in 7th and 8th grade, only we had classes in the old junior high school on Main Street. With about 60 students in my 8th grade class, we were one of the largest classes to ever go through the Challis school system. If I remember right, Mrs. P had to tell me to be quiet a lot because I spent more time talking and flirting than doing my schoolwork. In middle school and high school I played volleyball and ran in track, loved to draw and paint, and spent any free time with my friends listening to music and hanging out.
8th grade

I graduated 8th grade in 2000, high school in 2004, and finished college at Boise State University in 2009. I studied writing and Spanish at BSU and during my time in college had the opportunity to travel and study Spanish in both Costa Rica and Spain.

And now, I’m living in Peru!

August 2011 at my Swearing In Ceremony
to become a Peace Corps Volunteer

So, what is Peace Corps anyways?

A ¨papelote¨ or poster I made to help
explain what Peace Corps is to
the people in my Peruvian community.
Peace Corps is an organization that is part of the United States government that promotes development in developing countries, like Peru, through the work of a volunteer. Peace Corps was created in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy as an option for U.S. citizens to serve their country, like the military, only on a mission to promote peace and develop friendship between developing countries and the U.S.
Peace Corps volunteers currently serve in 77 countries all over the world, and there are more than 200 volunteers in Peru. Volunteers only work within countries and communities that have invited the Peace Corps to work there.

Peace Corps has three goals for its mission:
  1. To help the people of interested countries (in my case, Peru) in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served (i.e. I will help break stereotypes about the U.S.).
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans (In other words, this blog would be considered part of goal three! I’m telling everyone back home about Peru and my experiences here).

Peace Corps has multiple different programs, but there are five programs total in Peru:
  • Water and Sanitation Development
  • Environmental Development
  • Community Health Development
  • Small Business Development
  • Community/Youth Development

I am a Youth Development volunteer, which means I get the best job of all. I work specifically on projects that help the youth of Peru become well rounded, healthy, successful people, as well as active members and leaders in their community. I’ll be working within the schools and also partnering with people in the community to complete projects that focus on the Youth Development Program’s three goals:

  1. Promote healthy lifestyles (i.e. Nutrition, hygiene, HIV/AIDS prevention, etc)
  2. Development in the world of work (i.e. Goal setting, planning for the future, etc)
  3. Develop leadership and participation within the community (i.e., Big Brother/Big Sister programs, trash clean-up, community service, etc)
I will also be teaching English, as Spanish is the main language of Peru and many people within my community really want to learn English.

Since I am a volunteer I do not have a regular 9 to 5 job like many people in the U.S. I make my own schedule and work when the people in my community can work with me. This means some days I may only work a few hours, but other days I could be working up to 10 or more hours. On the other hand, being a Peace Corps Volunteer is a 24 hour 7 day a week job in itself-- I am representing the U.S. and therefore must always be at my best behavior. Being a volunteer anywhere else means you are working for free, but since I need to eat and have somewhere to sleep, the Peace Corps pays me a small stipend that covers my housing/transportation/food costs. I live with a Peruvian host-family and spend time with them and eat meals with them like I would my own family back home. While my host-mom knows some English, I only speak in Spanish with my host-family and the people I meet in the community. Even with a minor in Spanish I am still learning the language, so sometimes it is difficult to communicate and there are situations where I don’t understand what people are saying. But people are patient and kind, and I always find a way to get my point across.
Peru shares it´s borders with Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile

There are 24 departments in Peru, the same way there are 50 states in the U.S.
Lambayeque is the small pink department in the north.
Joining the Peace Corps was no easy decision and it was something I had been thinking about doing for four-years before I actually applied. The application process was a year-long and I had no idea where in the world I would be sent. I could’ve been sent to Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, or other areas of Central/South America. I think I’m pretty lucky to have been sent to Peru. I’ve only been here three-months so far and I still have a long time left (as my whole service is a 27-month commitment) but I’ve already had many experiences I’ll remember the rest of my life.
One of the streets in the town I live in;
you can see some moto-taxis that are
commonly used for transportation.

I hope you guys are enjoying the start to your new school year and I look forward to keeping in touch with you as the year continues on. It does not feel like long ago that I was in your shoes, so while it may seem like forever before you start high school, get your drivers license, or graduate high school, remember time flies and enjoy the time you have in junior high. Make this year a year to remember!


  1. What will you do after you are done with the Peace Corp?

  2. After you are done with the Peace Corps, what will you do after? Where else would you have liked to be sent besides Peru?

  3. Hey Rory and Mikayla! To answer both of your questions, I am not 100% sure what I´m going to do when I´m done with Peace Corps. There are so many options! 1) I could go back to school to get my Masters in creative writing, I could get a teaching degree, or maybe another emphasis if the opportunity presents itself. 2) I could continue working for Peace Corps in the U.S., as there are positions all over the U.S. available for Return Volunteers 3)I could wait and see what opportunities present themselves, as I still have two-years before I have to decide what I will do when I get back.

    And Mikayla, to answer your other question, while I had no idea where I would be sent in the world, I specifically requested Central/South America since I had studied Spanish and enjoyed my time in Latin America when I lived in Costa Rica. Otherwise, I might have been sent to Africa where I would´ve been trained in French and the local tribe languages. It all would´ve been a great adventure, but I was hoping to stick with Spanish speaking regions so I could advance my language skills and be able to more readily speak in Spanish back in the U.S.

    Hope that answers your questions!

  4. Amanda- I think it is so great that you're doing this! The teacher in me loves it. What lucky kids to get to read your informational AND entertaining posts. Kudos!

  5. This is such a Great idea!!! never knew this was part of PC! And to connect back with your home town. ten years...maybe there will be students of this class that will be on their way to 27 months in the PC