Service Week 39 [Happy Anniversary]

Update: The medication has started to kick-in and kick-ass… and Mike and I aren’t doing so great. Headed back to NIH on Wednesday for further “customization” of treatment.

RPCV Jeff Youde has stepped in to guest blog for Week 39 while I curl up in a bed of towels and a heat badger on the bathroom floor. He also offered to release the footage from our mock interview he coached me through in May 2017 during my application process. Hard no.

Special thanks to RPCV’s Jeff & Kris for taking this week’s helm.

Our correspondent recently sat down with Jessica Rice, a US Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Oxapampa, Peru. On the one-year anniversary of entering Peru, she was asked to reflect on her experiences thus far. Let’s listen in.

  1. What have you learned about Peru? Geographically and culturally, Peru has it all. Amazonian jungles, high-altitude Andes mountains, and a Pacific coastline. In each of these vastly different regions you’ll experience different culture, languages, and economies. This diversity is one of my favorite unique things about Peru.
  2. What have you learned about the people of Peru? Peruvian culture emphasizes hospitality and living in the moment. They are also the hardest-working, stay-up-all-night-to-get-the-job-or-the-party-done people I have ever experienced. They are all about living in the present. Making an itinerary for the entire year ahead? Dwelling on the past? Nope. In Peru, it’s all about TODAY and RIGHT NOW.
  3. What’s something you have learned about yourself? In contrast to the Peruvian live-in the-moment approach, I realize I am stubbornly, undeniably future-focused. I have had ample opportunities and practice to let go and be fully immersed in the right now.
  4. What would you say has been your top experience in Peru? That’s easy: becoming an integral member of my host family, and joining the family as we celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings, and holidays.
  5. How have you provided technical or professional expertise to the Oxapampa community? I’ve worked with local business owners to develop strategic workplans. I also had a chance to design and teach a new “Yo Soy Emprendedor/a” class to a group of local teachers.
  6. What are some ways you’ve shared American culture with Peruvians? I sometimes cook for my host family, and so far they’ve enjoyed such Americanized culinary classics such as BLTs, fajitas, nachos, Thai chicken soup, and crowd favorite Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I also field questions (daily) about all aspects of life in the U.S. compared to Peru, including life portrayed on reality TV, politics, gay marriage, and why PCVs are not allowed to ride a motorcycle.
  7. Have you had a chance to bring your PC experiences back to folks in the USA? This post marks 52 weeks in a row that I have posted to my PCV Blog, which includes all the sordid and various details of my exploits. I also carry-on WhatsApp and Messenger phone and voice conversations with a dozen or so friends back home, which is a good way to blow off steam, de-stress, and keep connected in real-time adventure.
  8. What parts have been the most stressful? Joining the Peace Corps involves giving up much of one’s personal sovereignty, as you journey to Peru, go through training, and integrate into a foreign culture and host family. All these stages are all done on a very specific and dictated schedule. So as a PCV, I have been forced to get used to being told what to do, where to go, and when to return. This has been a ‘growth area’ for me, let’s just say. It’s also stressful negotiating multiple bureaucracies, which include but are not limited to, local governments, NGOs, and the Peace Corps itself. It’s not unusual to receive opposing directives from multiple stakeholders. Oh yeah and Mike. Is that enough stress for you?
  9. Yes. What is a funny moment that you experienced? That’s easy. I told a class of teachers during class that I also didn’t like condoms (preservativos) in my yogurt.

Thanks for your time, Jess. De nada.




2 Replies to “Service Week 39 [Happy Anniversary]”

  1. No parting shot for us. But, we got an ounce of time with you, and an ounce is a shot. So I guess we did 😉
    Thank you to your ‘stand-in’ because I don’t like to miss my blog reading.
    Until we meet again, sweet/spicy/salty friend. Sending love to you and lots of ‘hastas’ to Mike


  2. So interesting and insightful, Jess! A totally different perspective on the experience in some ways. Thanks for sharing this! (PS. While in France, I more-than-once called my brother an ice ax (piolet) rather than a pilot (pilot). ) C’est la vie. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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