You know when you are having a bad day for no particular reason and then you get something as innocuous as a hangnail… and suddenly you also have dysentery, someone warns if you dig a water hole your husband will get cholera, and your oxen died crossing the river? No matter how many times I smashed the flippin’ space bar this week, it mostly felt like I was living in a very bad game of The Oregon Trail.
Not worth taking inventory of all the things making my metaphorical milk sour. It happens.
Also, it’s Sunday. No one has dysentery anymore. I think. Standby.
As a fellow aspirante pointed out: Nineteen days. Nineteen days left until swearing-in. Nineteen days before I can put on my one-and-only fancy ceremony dress, swear-in, pack up my bags, and finally head to work. I am considering starting my sprint. Just… please, enough already with the blindfolded dynamicas and earthquakes.
In Week Nine of Pre-Service Training (PST) we resumed our regular schedule at the Peace Corps training center in Chaclacayo, Lima. Back to five and/or six days a week of early starts (6:30am is the prime time for optimal bus rejection), packed lunches of rice and potatoes, pushy commuting, and mind numbing hours of language & technical programming punctuated by a lot of trashy snacks. We have started studying my personal favorite language skill: Ambiguously Vague and Generally UnSpecific Irregular Past Verb Tenses. Can I am speaking verbs present during two years now please?
We also had a morning of STIs (as one does after signing up for Adult Day Care). STI’s, or Sexually Transmitted Infections, are a variety of infections you evidently can get from having sexual partners. There was also a condom relay race to demonstrate the importance of rapid-fire succession of the application and removal of prophylactics on un-consenting fruit. According to the U.S. Government’s Peace Corps data, statistically if you make it through two years of service you have a 90% chance of having sex. They really should lead with that in the application literature.
Another storyline featured this week in As el Centro Turns, we CED-ians learned how to initiate and co-facilitate Community Banks, one of the three metas in our Community Economic Development program. Think – a social weekly savings club that also gives small loans out to community bank members. Many Peruvians, especially in rural areas, have a distrust of banking institutions and small business loans typically come with a 40% interest price tag. (Umm. That would be over 2 million dollars in interest alone on a 30-yr mortgage for a 200K home in the US.)
A community bank may promote healthy saving and investment habits while creating an opportunity for financial education, as well as an affordable and accessible option for small loans. The bank members split the profits from loans and multas (fees from late payments and no-shows) among the group. The key is forming a group of responsible, trustworthy, and motivated bank partners who will carry on long after volunteer service. I am going to go ahead and admit I am excited.
Week Nine highlights include cranking through
48 (sad face) 46 five-minute Power Point presentations about our Site Exploration adventures; I drew a comic about Ivy being mistaken for a mother on Mother’s Day for her blog (a fellow volunteer in the Pasco-Junin region in the WASH sector who can find cake faster than Cabot finds a tennis ball); I grumpily put a used condom on a used banana, made a piggy bank out of a toilet paper roll, logged 78 81 mosquito bites on my right forearm, had a 5.2 scale earthquake while looking for my pants, listened to some fellow trainees play and sing on a newly acquired keyboard,
ate and watched first hand the positive impact a batch of homemade chocolate chip shortbread cookies by Erin, and took a deep breath starting every morning. Thank you for your emails, texts, WhatsApp messages, chats, and inferred pregnancy announcements. They buoyed me through a long week of re-entry and cement floor toilet yoga. (That and going to see Deadpool 2 in a mall and still laughing even though I couldn’t understand 97% of the dialogue. I even cried. That “Take On Me” scene tho.)
The next two weeks (numbers Ten and Eleven) are full of testing, essays, evaluations, exams, online surveys, presentations, cookies, and various other “let’s get them through training” and onto work sites. Friday we have checklist simulations about How to Safely Hail a Cab and How to Tell Host Parent to Stop Sexually Harassing You. There is an extensive Training Assessment Protocol (TAP!) manual to make sure we are objectively released into the wild, prepared and ready. Asleep yet? Here is this weekend’s first essay assignment about competencies living with a host family, due shortly after I publish this extra spicy blog post, and if you’re avoiding some other deadline and pretending to be curious about the most long winded essay no one is ever going to read: Host Family Live-in Competencies Assessment Items. At least it isn’t an acronym HFLCAI.
Please let me know if finishing this blog post is followed by a 90% chance of having sex.