When the third email of the day comes in about a policy reminder or another report due:
One-sentence summary: Performing the wild tight-wire act of hosting, meeting, connecting with 22 Peruvian professionals for four days of EIST; juggling personal reunions with fellow PC teammates while not falling off the ambassador tight-wire; successfully completing three days of Women’s Empowerment programming with a renewed excitement and work plan for site; navigating the remaining days of EIST with depleting energy, spent attention, and escaping patience; and feeling a stadium of empathy for all of the players’ perspectives of a less-than-perfect crash ending.
Right Now: “No-longer-trusting-the-thoughts-in-my-head”-level exhausted.
Expression of the Week: Patear el tablero. Literal translation: “Kick the board.” In Perú, it means to abandon something mid-game (like in chess) by kicking the board over. It infers when you sabotage something so you don’t have to fail, or lose, or possibly some distant cousin expression to “blowing it off.”
Hi there friends. My snorkel is underwater this week. Enjoy the bubbles of choked air.
Week Fifteen was Early In-Service Training (EIST), our first training since completing the initial three months of Pre-Service Training (PST) in June 2018.
After three months baby fledgling-ing at our sites, the nineteen remaining Peru 31 CED volunteers convened in San Ramon, Junín, for a week of team building, skills building, presentations, reports, and program check-ins. Each of us were asked to bring a potential work counterpart (socio) for the first few days. And by “bring” – some needed to pitch, invite, cajole, facilitate, remind, encourage, promise, and securely take by the hand to our training. My socia, Soledad, basically had to do that for me.
For some training participants, this training location at Hotel Shirampari, was roughly forty hours of bus travel, one-way. For me and my counterpart, it was only two hours and four versions of taxis. At each new socio introduction, I asked (and attempted understanding) where they lived, who was their volunteer, and about how long they travelled to be here. I wanted to communicate how much it meant to each of us, especially after hearing from other volunteers who had no-shows past trainings. It was a high-risk investment of their personal time (and general hybrid tolerance of long distance bus rides) and probably a pretty strange landing. And we PCV’s bring no shortage of weird.
For the first part of EIST, Peace Corps staff and third-year CED PCV Megan Eileen lead both socios and volunteers in la tema of Women’s Empowerment for a total of two-and-a-half calendar days of programming. For the remainder of the training, we had CED-specific workshop programming and regularly scheduled volunteer maintenance.
Picture a grown-up summer camp reunion, in the hot jungle, with 20+ host country work partners executing ropes courses in slacks. In Spanish. Spanish slacks and wedge heels? Now pull it back a notch and change the “ropes courses” to some theatre pieces, local kumbaya, and some cutthroat academic competitions. (Team Ancash was fierce.) We worked in regional groups, interregional small groups, community pairs, and as a large EIST unit of 40-45 people in order to dynamically develop skills to work and serve in our communities.
Our partner-team programming culminated Day Two when we went out in working pairs to co-facilitate a women’s business empowerment class out for local San Ramon mothers. Soledad and I presented papelotes and worksheets to a group of 14 mothers, creating a platform for an open discussion about roots, identity, accomplishments, challenges and dreams. We left inspired.
Late into the final evening together, participants planned, practiced, or pulled-off (in many cases) a cultural performance presentation from each site. By the time we inched our way into one of our assigned quadruple-room beds, Day Two of training felt like three days action-stuffed into one. And there seemed no signs of slowing the contagious enthusiasm of our Peruvian counterparts. (Yes. Peruvian weddings last until 6am. What was I expecting?)
Overall, EIST (Part Uno) was a galvanizing time with my socia Soledad – introducing her to our Peace Corps culture, program & support staff, our CED and PCV objectives, and the kind of work we (she and I) can do together for underserved women in our community.
I was impressed by the work we (us, facilitators, and the entire group) were given and the work we accomplished in such a short time. By Wednesday afternoon, our socios left happy and newly inspired by the workshop.
The remaining group of humans were naturally showing the onset symptoms of being fried. We were all at different levels of spent, tired, bewildered, short-tempered, frazzled, anxious, retreating into our phone-lives, acting out stress behaviors (plenty of snippy) and some of us on the verge of tears for no apparent reason.
[Well, there’s a graph from two weeks ago about the Cycle of Vulnerability During the Two Years You Signed Up for Your Ass-Kicking. That’s one apparent reason.]
Another low-hanging, dissectible, juicy fruit is that it is hard bringing & sustaining your Very Best Self, full-time, in the most supportive and primary of conditions, for that period of time without a fault line or two filled with LIMB land mines.
As far as how the second-half of EIST went, I am going to wait. I need to fill the “vital reserves” before taking another breath with my underwater snorkel. It was hard, feelings were hurt, it is over. Maybe next week I will write us a happier ending.
Maybe this week I will keep a little for myself in reserve. Maybe I will practice being okay with giving only mostly part of my best self.
And maybe, even then, you will still love me.
Vamos a ver, amigos.
A Parting Shot
Leaderboard: One letter from Port Townsend sent early August (arriving September 18). Delivered to SERPOST and handed off to me by WASH PCV Ami Cobb over Chinese Food.
Hermana Jessica Rice, Cuerpo de Paz
Apartado NO. 120 SERPOST La Merced
La Merced, Chanchamayo, Junín, PERU
Please note: 1) This mailbox is two hours away 2) It costs a lot of money to send me stuff – (like $23 for $5 of candy) and only send through USPS to SERPOST 3) Keep packages under 1lb (or to not appear worth $100) or they get sent to Customs Jail in Lima. 4) Customs Jail is as arbitrary and random as my blog posts, so don’t send me anything that you’ll be sad goes missing. 5) The last numbers are my Peru cell phone and they will call me if it gets lost. Place them in the spot you would look if you were lost.
I have Port Townsend visitors coming mid-November if you want to pass something to them.