Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Glossary of Peace Corps Terms

Peace Corps Peru has begun to develop its own language that is a mix of acronyms, Spanish, and Peruvian slang. To make the writing and reading of my blog a little easier, I’m going to create a glossary. (I got this idea from another Peace Corps volunteer - thanks Kelsi!) If nothing else, this should make phone calls with my parents a little easier.

Ancash: n., place – this is the beautiful department that I am currently living in. Ancash is better.

APCD: n., person – Assistant Peace Corps Director – there are five APCDs in Peru, one for each sector. This person works out of Lima and makes important decisions for their program. They also develop sites and choose which PCTs go to which site.

Barter: v. – you’re supposed to barter in the mercados here to try to get the best deal. This involves a lot of back and forth when you and the vendor both demand really ridiculous prices and then finally decide on a reasonable price somewhere in the middle. I think my Mom will really enjoy bartering in Peru because she loves to get a good deal.

Bicicleta: n., jerga – technically bicicleta is Spanish for bicycle but it is also Peruvian jerga for diarrhea. Having a silly jerga term for such an unsilly thing makes it much easier to discuss with the PCMO and, (unfortunately), other PCVs. I would love to take a ride on my bicicleta but I’m afraid I’d have to run to the bathroom due to bicicleta.

Campo: 1) adj. – someplace very rural. Usually means that there isn’t running water, a bathroom, or other basic amenities. I knew my site was super campo when I saw a pig, cow, bull, chicken, and sheep walk by the front door. 2) n., place – someplace very rural. I live in the campo. 3) n., place – a soccer field. The neighborhood kids love to bring me down to the campo to play games.

Castellano: n., thing - what people in the campo call Spanish… I don’t know why. “Hablas castellano?” “No, I speak Spanish.”

Chacra: n., place – the fields. My host parents work all day in the chacra so I can understand why they go to bed at 9.

China: n., jerga – a china is worth fifty centimos. Change is extremely important in Peru because everybody wants it and nobody seems to have it. I hoard chinas like they’re gold because when you’re bartering it’s always helpful to have the smallest change possible. The cobredor tried to get me to pay 60 centimos but I refused to pay more than a china.

Chisme: n., thing – gossip. Peruvians and PCVs love chisme. Mostly because they have nothing else to talk about.

Cobredor: n., person – has a lot of responsibilities on a combi. They need to be short enough to stand up in a van, remember who has and hasn’t paid, remember the names of all of the stops and where everyone is going, and look out for people who would want to get on the combi. In other words, a cobredor needs to be an amazing multi-tasker. The cobredor didn’t hear me yell so we were six blocks past my stop before I was able to get off.

Colegio: n., place – a school. I’m happy that the colegio is letting me use a room after school for my youth group.

Collectivo: n., thing – just like a taxi but it waits until it is full of people who are all going to the same place. The collectivo definition of “full” is a little different then the American one – in the States we would consider a car full when it five passangers, here a full collectivo needs to have at least six people but usually has nine or more. The collectivo ride wasn’t too bad until we picked up three more people and I had to sit on the emergency break for the remainder of the trip. (True story)

Combi: n., thing – the Peruvian solution to public transportation. For more information on combis, see a previous blog entry. Whenever I am feeling miserable and crammed onto a combi, I imagine what it will be like for my Dad when he visits. This always makes me laugh.

COS: Close of Service – 1) n., event – the conference that takes place three months before completing Peace Corps service. 2) v. - when you finish your Peace Corps service you have reached Close of Service. I will be COS-ing in August 2012, three months after my COS conference.

Early-IST: n., event – Early In-Service Training is the conference that takes place after three months at site. All of the Youth Development Fifteeners get to meet up and talk about what we’ve been doing at site and our plans. I can’t wait until Early-IST because I’ll be able to see all of my friends again!

Enrique: n., person – Enrique is our Safety and Security officer. Enrique is always concerned about our safety and we always ask “Would Enrique approve?” Plus, he gives us suckers if we visit his office in Lima.

Fifteener: n., person – someone from the Peru 15 training group. I am a Fifteener.

Huaraz: n., place – Huaraz is the capitol of Ancash and is the home to amazing things like a mercado, pizza, showers, the post office, and internet. When I go to Huaraz, I feel like I’m back in the real world.

“I’m on a Combi”: n., thing – This is a song that was written during our lock-in/sleepover at the training center. It was a group effort and is based on the hugely popular song, “I’m on a Boat”. I sing it whenever I am stuck on a combi or feeling homesick because it always makes me laugh. T-Pain just called to see if he can buy the rights to “I’m on a Combi”.

IST: n., event – In-Service Training takes place after ten months at site. At IST we talk about our last year at site.

Jerga: n., thing – slang. My favorite piece of Peruvian jerga is “pata” which means both duck and friend.

Luca: n., jerga – a one Sol piece of money – also worth two chinas. Peruvian paper money doesn’t start until 10 soles so this is also a coin. Peruvians are always impressed when I call one Sol a Luca.

Mercado: n., place – the mercado can be crazy and intimidating but it’s where you can get the best deal on almost anything, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Things are cheaper in the mercardo but its much more time consuming.

Papas: n., thing – potatoes. Today a mom in the community thanked me for playing with her children by giving me a bowl of papas. I really appreciated it but if I eat one more papa I’m going to turn into a Mrs. Potato Head (but without all of the cool accessories).

PCMO: n., person – The Peace Corps Medical Officers are our official doctors. Thankfully, the PCMOs are only a phone call away, 24/7.

PCT: n., person – A Peace Corps trainee. Being a PCT was a lot of fun because I had internet, hot water, and a toilet.

PCV: n., person – A Peace Corps volunteer. I officially became a PCV at the swearing-in ceremony at the Embassy when I promised to protect the United States from ‘threats, both foreign and domestic’.

PCVL: n., person – A Peace Corps volunteer leader is a third year that lives in the capitol city and provides support to PCVs. In Ancash, we have two PCVLs: Rabbit and Sophie.

PDM: n., event – The Project Design and Management conference occurs after four or five months in site. PCVs are asked to bring a socio to help plan a project for the PCVs time at site. PDM isn’t the most interesting conference but it’s very important if you want to receive grant money.

Peru 15 (13, 14, 16, etc.): n., thing – The bi-annual groups that come into Peru are each given a number. Currently, Peru 12 through 16 are in Peru. Peru 12 will be COS-ing in November and Peru 16 will officially become volunteers in December. The rest of the Peru groups are cool but Peru 15 is the best.

Plaza Vea Money: n., thing – Plaza Vea is the Peruvian version of Wal Mart. When you buy something at Plaza Vea, you often receive one centimo coins. Since these are absolutely useless and only actually seen at Plaza Vea they are now referred to as Plaza Vea Money. Plaza Vea money is worth less then fake, plastic, play money. It also looks and feels like fake, plastic, play money.

Primaria: n., place – the equivalent of the elementary school. 25 kids from the Primaria show up to my youth group every Monday and Tuesday. They always claim that there aren’t any rules in their classrooms…

Quechua: n., language – one of the indigenous languages in Peru. I hate it when everyone speaks about me in Quechua.

Regional Meeting: n., event – Regional Meetings occur every month in the capitol city. Regional Meetings are a great opportunity to see the other Ancash volunteers.

RPCV: n., person – Returned Peace Corps volunteer. I’ll be an RPCV after I COS.

Sectors: n., thing – the different programs that are working in Peru. There are currently five sectors in Peru: youth development, small business development, health, water and sanitation, and environment.

Secundaria: n., place – the equivalent to middle and high school. It’s sad that kids are done with secundaria when they are only 16 years old.

Socio: n., person – Socios, or Community Partners, are people in our community that the Peace Corps identified for us to work with. My socios work at the health post, the colegio, and the municipality.

Sol: n., thing – the Peruvian currency in the Nueva Sol. With the current exchange rate, one Sol is approximately worth 40 US cents. The spending power of a sol is on par with one US dollar though since, just like with a dollar, you can buy a chocolate bar or bottle of water for one sol just like you could buy the same things for one dollar in the States. And yes, a chocolate bar or a bottle of water is what I use to compare spending power. I used a sol to buy my favorite Peruvian chocolate bar, a Princessa, which is subpar chocolate filled with a little bit of fake peanut butter. If you pretend, really hard, it’s almost like a Reese’s.

Stage Seven Bicicleta: n., thing – One of our wonderful PCMOs, Jorge, introduced us to a chart which explained the different possible stages of bicicleta (the jerga term, not an actual bicycle). The worst one was Stage Seven (I’ll let you use your imagination). Stage Seven Bicicleta on the carratera” is one of my favorite lines from “I’m on a Combi”.

Tippy Tappies: n., thing – possibly the best invention in the history of the Peace Corps. A Tippy Tappy is used when you don’t have access to running water and want a way to wash your hands. Tippy Tappies are extremely easy and cheap to make and are super effective. Having to use a latrine didn’t seem so bad once I made a Tippy Tappy.

Now when you come to visit me in Peru you can talk just like a PCV. Hopefully this will help my blog entries make a little more sense.


Kim said...

this is freaking hilarious

CarynD said...

I agree with Kim. I'm at work and they are looking at me funny as I read this. Legendary!

Pato de las MontaƱas said...

I am absolutely linking to this page in my next post. This was great! Thanks Beth.

Frances said...

Campo definitely is just one of the several soccer glossary you've got to learn in order to understand the technicalities of the game.

Serge said...

Once you read about terms like these, you'll get to learn and widen your knowledge about lots of things.