Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mi maestra Maria Luisa

Ferry ride to San Luis del Carmen

My host sis and padre

From the left: My host mom, her sister in law, and my ¨cousins¨ Katharine and Michael

Feb 09 Trainees

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Day in the Life

The days are falling into a bit of a routine now, so I thought I’d write to let everyone know what a day in the life of a trainee might be like. First, I wake up at about 2:45am to the sound of roosters crowing in all the houses surrounding mine and all over town. I drift in and out of sleep to the sounds of roosters, street cats and dogs, people, TVs, and trucks until about 6 or 7. Once up I take a shower (or a bucket bath if the shower isn’t working) and get dressed. Breakfast is usually cereal or beans and eggs with corn tortillas. The tortillas are small and thick, don’t really taste like anything but are a HUGE staple and are served with every meal. Every Tuesday we have training sessions in San Vicente with the whole big group, and on those days I meet up with my small group in Tepetitan and catch the 7:30 bus into the city. The rest of the days of the week our classes are in Tepetitan in the house next door where another trainee is staying. We have Spanish class form 8-12, lunch 12-1, and then either more Spanish or work on our community contact and community project tasks until about 4.

The community contact activities are things like visiting a local school, interviewing the director and then teaching an English class, interviewing townspeople about the Alcaldia (town hall), visiting the Casa de la Cultura, etc…Basically these activities are supposed to a practice for us before we get to our site, where well have to do all these to get to know and get involved with our communities. As I mentioned before, for the community project we have to work with a group of local youths to execute a project to benefit the community. We had our first get-to-know-you meeting with a group of about 16 youths on Monday. The meeting was scheduled for 3:00, but of course everyone is on Salvadoran time so no one showed up until 3:45! Once everyone was there though, it was a really good meeting - the youth had a lot of great ideas for projects, although most are too ambitious for us to accomplish in 6 weeks with no money.

After classes and activities, I come home and hang out with my host family, the extended family of my host family and the other trainees, and study/do homework. Most evenings we have pupusas for dinner, and after dinner I usually watch my telenovelas ‘Un Gancha al Corazon’ and ‘Fuego en la Sangre.’ I’m usually exhausted in the evenings, so I go to bed around 9 every night…so yeah in bed by 9 and up around 6… I feel like a completely different person! You’re forced to be a morning person because it’s impossible to sleep through all the noise in the mornings!

There are usually activities planed for us on Saturdays, but Sundays we have free. The first weekend I was here I was able to go to a Quincenera (like a sweet 16, but for turning 15) and a wedding with my host family. The next Saturday the Munis and Rural Health each had field trips to sites. We went to San Luis del Carmen and Suchitoto to visit the Volunteers there and have them show us around and explain what work they do there. Suchitoto is really pretty, and a big tourist spot – definitely somewhere I’d try to take visitors! This Saturday all the communities had to travel into the capital city to meet at a museum – a long journey with about a million different routes and hot buses packed with passengers and vendors. Next weekend we’re each getting assigned to a current Volunteer in their site and are going to spend four days with them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

One Week Anniversary

Today is our official one week anniversary of our time here in El Salvador! The days are starting to get a routine - Spanish class in the mornings with Maria Luisa and work on our community contact/community project in the afternoon. Basically each training community has to either contact or create a youth group in our communities to work on a project to benefit the community. I think the PCTs before us did a clean up campaign in the park and other community spaces. We dont know what our group is going to do - but we had our first meeting with the leader of a youth group in our community this morning. It was really exciting and all in Spanish! Yesterday we were in San Vicente for training sessions with the whole group - it was really good to see everyone again. We had a medical session where they reviewed thing we cant eat/should avoid etc.... and now I probably have cysts because I had done like every single thing they said not to do....No one else seems that worried which is a good sign but I´m going to be super vigilant from now on! It´s also getting really hot here - our first few days were perfect because it was really breezy and cool, but not anymore!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Estoy Aqui!

I´m finally here! There is a group of 32 new trainees, half Rural Health and half Municipal Development - there are 2 married couples and 2 older retired women, but the rest of us are 22-31. We had 2 days of orientation in San Vicente, and now we are in our training communities in nearby pueblos. The training groups are determined by our technical groups and our language proficiency...I think I´m the worst speaker in my group, but I´m understanding more than I thought I would be able to. There are four others in my group, I really like all of them but am a little bummed the big group got split up so fast, just as we were getting close! We do have sessions in San Vicente once a week where well all get to be together for training. The first 2 months of pre service training is completely geared toward language acquisition and cultural acclimation and integration. Then we go to our actual communities and integrate there, and then in June well start tech training. More later!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Going Away Party

It's Sunday night, and I'm leavin on a jet plane in less than 36 hours!!
Saturday mom threw me a FANTASTIC going away party. In true mom-style, everything from the food to the silverware was El Salvadoran-themed, complete with blue and white balloons, pupusas, a huge El Salvadoran flag, chili beer and tres leches cake :). I hope everyone who came had a great time and plenty to eat!

I'm so thankful for all the support of my family and friends - in the difficult times ahead I know that you all will be the source of my strength - thank you again!!
Attached are pics from the party - enjoy! Also, I'm new at blogging so the format is kind of less-than-optimal...but hopefully I'll get better over time! In the meantime though, please forgive the messed up picture and text layouts and whatnot....