Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thank goodness for small successes!

This weekend was the leadership camp for boys in Cajamarca.  Diamond and I along with the other volunteers in our training group were supposed to be ‘in charge’.  It mostly felt like I was running around with my trying to fix problems that kept coming up.  However, the best part of working with Peace Corps volunteers is that they are good creative problem solvers. 

These leadership camps are fun events for the kids and volunteers.  This time I felt more relieved for the camp to be over than I have at other camps, probably because I was supposed to be running the event.  I brought 4 boys from Tacabamba; 2 boys I already knew and 2 I had never met.  I made an announcement at the high school that I wanted interested boys to fill out applications and bring them to my house.  Out of the entire high school only 5 kids filled out the applications.  My plan had been to only bring 2 boys, but at the last minute (since Diamond and I were the points of contact for the event) we got calls from other volunteers that boys were canceling and backing out. The night before camp I went out and basically trolled for teenage boys to take to this event. 

When we finally got to camp (it is about a 7 hour car ride from Tacabamba to Cajamarca) we were all pretty tired, but being around all the other volunteers sort of gave me some extra energy.  After dinner we played a bunch of ‘dinamicas’ or team building group games.  A lot of the games that I like to lead are tried and true from my time as a Girl Scout; train wreck, honey if you love me, the snorting game that Jenni Glysson taught me is one of my favorites. 

The second day of camp we took the boys to the Cajamarca national university (Peruvian equivalent to state school).  The tour was pretty boring, but I hope that just seeing the campus and meeting some of the administrators might make the university seem less intimidating for the boys.  The third day we had field games in the morning, a career panel in the afternoon, and a bonfire with smores at night.  The last day the boys had debates on topics that they had been preparing in groups throughout the camp, we did prizes and certificates, and it was time to travel back up north. 

Overall, the camp was a big success.  The grant stuff is almost over, now Diamond and I have some more paperwork to do to close it out-so that is a relief.  And I believe that the boys got something out of it all.  They might not be ready to step in an denounce all forms of sexism they see in their communities, but they’ll probably notice it more and think twice about joining in with their friends cat calling a woman in the street.  I hope that in the least their actions that reflect gender equality will be an example to their peers. 

One of the most frustrating parts of having a job that revolves around behavior change is that you seldom get to see the outcomes of all your work.  Often I just have to have faith that my time and energy has contributed at least on some small level a change of thought or behavior in someone.  And volunteers have to find a way to be satisfied not seeing those results and knowing that they may have only affected one person in their time. 

This is so difficult for us as Americans, because we judge ourselves based on numbers and results.  In behavior change it is sort of impossible.  We can measure knowledge learned on a pre and post-test, but that does not indicate whether or not someone has actually formed a new habit of boiling their water or washing their hands.  At this point my hope lies more in the personal relationships that I have formed.  I know that the kids in my sexual health education classes learned some new things, but the kids that came to camp or participated in my youth group I know that they are going to act differently.  My host brother in San Juan  will read books for fun, my host mom will make more salads, maybe the Peruvian women who have been in my life might want to be more independent after meeting me. 

I like to tell the kids in my English classes or youth group that they are intelligent.  I tell their parents too and they always react with a little bit of surprise, because people don’t say that here.  I think it is important for kids to know that they are intelligent and important-so I tell them.  Maybe just hearing that from someone will help them to be encouraged to study and want more for themselves. 

Yesterday Diamond, Nate (D’s boyfriend visiting Peru from the U.S.), and I went to El Condac with our youth group.  El condac is a local waterfall, that people like to say is a tourist attraction.  The waterfall is a 2 hour hike outside of Tacabamba.  The trail especially when you get to the climb down to the waterfall is in bad condition.  It was beautiful and the views on the walk down were incredible.  I felt like we were at the end of the earth.  I brought my peanut butter and jelly to have the kids all try a typical American food (which I thought was very generous of myself since peanut butter is kind of like gold to a PCV).  The kids swam for a little while and we hiked back.

I have 2 funny stories of the week;

1)      I figured out that my dog will only come when I call her for a walk if I am wearing this big floppy sun hat.  Since I always put it on when I am going out for a walk with her she suspects foul play when I call for her without the hat; either a bath, flea medicine, or eye drops.  I’ve never had a dog before, so I guess I didn’t expect them to be so clever or silly.

2)      Diamond called me one day this week to ask me if I could go by the preschool where she is doing a classroom exchange (she visits the school here in Peru and talks about the US, while also communicating with an American school to teach them about Peru).  She was supposed to be going by for a presentation and wanted to double check that they were still expecting her.  I live only a block away so I walked over.  It turned out that that day they were knocking down the adobe building-probably they are going to rebuild with cement or brick.  However, no one from the preschool bothered to tell Diamond that they were tearing the school down the day that she had scheduled with them to do her presentation. 

Below I have pictures from the waterfall excursion and the photos of the leadership camp still to come.  Thanks again for all the donations and moral support! 

Chau for now and thanks for reading,


with my host grandpa and at the bottom is my dog Lulu

with the whole gang

Nate and Diamond

Nate making his way down this terrible rock path.  Everyone was slipping and falling all over the place.

Diamond and Nate in front of the waterfall

Diamond and I



1 comment:

  1. That waterfall is beautiful!

    I'm glad you found out that building was being torn down, but the story would have been more funny/tragic if Diamond showed up to a pile of rubble. XD