Tuesday, May 14, 2013

a world where nobody likes to say 'no'

Diamond and I are currently leading a teen group at the high school in Tacabamba.  The group is made up of kids that want to be peer educators.  It has been kind of a nightmare trying to get the permission we need to have the kids in our club teach sex-ed in the high school.  Plus, the kids are definitely not dedicated enough in showing up on time or participating during meetings for me to feel too guilty about it not happening for them.  Instead we have compromised and made the group kind of an extracurricular health promotion group.  Last year we painted a mural in the health center and held a movie night for the entire student body.

This year the kids in our youth group had a big idea; a school wide soccer/volleyball/chess tournament.  We invited each section (kind of like homeroom, except that they just spend their entire day with the same classmates-everyone does the same electives on the same schedule) to form teams.  The idea for this event was from the kids in our group and in theory they were supposed to help us organize the whole thing.  They did help a little, but Diamond and I ended up doing most of the work. 

So for the past couple weeks we have been doing all the preparations.  And for the past two Saturdays Diamond and I spent the whole day at the tournament.  Not one kid ever said ‘thanks’ to me.  Instead I got a lot of kids showing up late, arguing with me or whining about how they didn’t get to play more games, and I was particularly upset when the kids couldn’t bother to stay for a short announcement I was making at the end of the tournament to thank the other adults that helped.  I admit I shouted after the kids while they left that they were being ‘rude turds,’ but I shouted it in English just to make myself feel better. 

I guess technically the event was a success, kids showed up, a couple adults came through for us, and our peer educator group was on display for the school.  However, I feel so frustrated at how the students treated me and the other adults that showed up.  I feel really frustrated that the Municipality promised to give prizes to the winners and they are so disorganized that they can’t get around to doing anything.  I also feel really frustrated that the kids won’t participate in a free soccer/volley ball tournament unless there are cash prizes available-that was so surprising to me.  When I suggested we buy the winning teams ice cream cones or chocolate bars I was laughed out of the room by my peer educators.  They were adamant that kids wouldn’t show up unless there were cash prizes (and they were totally right).

After the tournament wrapped up on Saturday, Diamond and I helped decorate the church for her host sister’s wedding.  The party that night was really fun.  It started  late because of the rain.   Diamond, Ellie, and I were basically cater waiters for the event.  Since we didn’t start serving the food until late and the house was so crowded the dinner wasn’t served until around 10:30pm.  The drinks were being served earlier on empty stomachs, so by the time we were weaving through the crowd with trays of food everyone was pretty drunk. 

There was a lot of dancing.  Although my experience has been that people from Cajamarca do not hug a whole lot, with the alcohol flowing I got a lot of hugs from Diamond’s host family members and some of my host family members that were guests.  Ellie and I stayed until 1:30am and walked back to my host family’s house.  Diamond told us that the party went on until 4:30am and that her host family woke up to make breakfast at around 8am.  I don’t   envy Diamond not being able to fall asleep until 4:30am because of the loud music and dancing outside her door.

The next day; Mother’s Day, there were a lot of celebrations.  The funny thing about the celebrations for Mother’s Day was that most of them involved a group of men sitting around and getting really drunk.  On the corner near my house my adult host brother Ivan and a group of neighbors were camped out most of the afternoon.  Every time I left my house the would call me over and I would do the Peruvian finger wag ‘no’.  I baked my host mom Rosa a banana bread and magically we became best friends.  I really need to bake more often-my host family likes me a whole lot more when I make them cakes. 

I also tested out a theory about making excuses to avoid undesirable social situations on Sunday evening.  Sunday night there was a kind of a block party near my house for Mother’s Day.  They were blasting loud music in the street and drinking.  I knew I did not want to dance or drink again, but I also knew that everyone would try to pressure me to do so.  I have been watching The Mindy Project and in one episode a character says that someone has diarrhea to get them out of an unwanted social situation.  So when the waves of ‘come one, just come to the dance for a little while,’ ‘just drink a little bit with us,’ started rolling in I simply said I couldn’t because I had diarrhea. 

My excuse didn’t shut down the invitations as fast as I would have imagined.  I had to fend off questions like: ‘why don’t you just take some medicine?’ or ‘how bad is it really?’  Eventually though I successfully employed the theory of shutting it down with diarrhea.  Who says that TV isn’t good for you?  It applied to my real life!!!

Sorry for being gross.  Also sorry for being so complaining lately…I am trying really hard to be more positive.  There are so many great things about Peru the country and it’s people, but I always catch myself focusing on the negative stuff.

For example who’s to say that the whole nobody says ‘no’ here thing is bad?  Those men on the street inviting me to drink or my host family pressuring me to come out dancing with them are just examples of the social practice of nobody-ever-says-‘no’.  They have to keep inviting (or in my perspective pressuring), because you can’t say ‘no’ or take ‘no’ for an answer.  You have to have an excuse or you have to say ‘I’ll come by later’ and then just not do it.  That is how things work here.  As much as it annoys me when it happens in the context of no one showing up to a meeting I called, it is a relief to know that when I flake out on other people that they will not be offended since that is just the way things are here.

Anyhow, thanks for reading and chau for now,

here are some action shots of the tournament

my host dad taking his typical afternoon nap

picture of the kitchen at the home I live in now in Tacabamba

pictures from a visit to my previous site San Jaun

this is a typical kitchen, big difference huh?

showing off all the food we made

sometimes I can't believe that I lived in a place like my first site

1 comment:

  1. You know I like any story with diarrhea in it!

    Good post -- very interesting to hear about the social pressures over there. We have that a bit here, but maybe are also more used to being blown off/leading busy enough lives that excuses seem viable.

    Can't wait to see you in like A WEEK!!!!! :D :D :D