Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Old Friends

"Old stories are like old friends, she used to say. You have to visit
them from time to time."

In case you can't guess from the "Books Finished in the Peace Corps"
sidebar, reading has become a big part of my life here in the Peace
Corps. I'm rarely found without a book especially because it is
common for meetings to start late and I like to keep myself
entertained. Many an afternoon has been spent sitting outside of my
door reading books. I used to feel guilty about this "lack of work"
but John William and I decided a long time ago that reading outside
counted as work since we were setting a good example for the kids in
the community.

The kids are still pretty surprised when they see me reading. "Are
you studying?" they ask. "Nope," I reply, "Just reading for fun."
They often give me quizzical looks and then try to sound out the
English words over my shoulder.

Reading for fun is a foreign concept here. To the best of my
knowledge, it's not really encouraged in the schools. There is no
library at my site, except for the one at the school, which is closed
for vacations.

So I'm starting an uphill battle. I'm trying to start a Reading Club
for the youth at my site.
I'm requesting that kids ask their parents if they can temporarily
donate their books to the Club. The kids will be able to check out
books from me and read them. When the kids finish a book they need to
do a small project. When they finish the project they'll earn a small
prize (like time on my computer, playing one of my games, or getting a
piece of candy). After finishing five books and projects the kids
will earn a big prize.

Yes, I am bribing the children to read. But if it worked for the
Pizza Hut Book-It program, it can work for me.

Today was the first meeting time for the Reading Club and only two
kids showed up. But they checked out a book and sat and read with me
for awhile. Not an overwhelming success but a success nonetheless.

If you happen to have any picture or easy reader books in Spanish that
you don't want any more… I know of at least two kids in Peru who would
love to read them.

See you in a few weeks!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Warning

As I’m sure you can guess, I am very excited to visit home in a few short weeks. But before I come home I feel like I should give everyone a fair warning… I’ve picked up some annoying habits in the Peace Corps. I’ll outline a few below:

1) The sewage system in Peru (and, in general, most of the world) is not good enough to allow people to put their toilet paper in the toilet and instead they need to throw it into a garbage can. This has become second nature and when I was at the US Embassy I was baffled by the fact that there were no garbage cans in the stalls. A Peace Corps friend once told me the story about when he was at hotel in the States and actually brought his toilet paper out of the bathroom to throw it away, never realizing that this was a strange thing to do.

2) I now feel comfortable talking about things that are considered off-limits in polite conversation. Please read the above paragraph for an example.

3) It doesn’t seem weird to wear a variation of the exact same outfit for a week. Or to never take off my pajamas but instead just throw jeans and a sweatshirt on over them because it’s so cold out.

4) If you ask me a question and I just stand and stare at your for awhile do not be alarmed. I’m probably trying to translate my answer into Spanish and it might take me a minute to realize that I don’t need to.

5) Speaking of Spanish, there are now some words that come to me quicker in Spanish then in English. My apologies for the uses of: tranquilo (calm), de nada (you’re welcome), aqui (here), como (what?), and que piensas (what do you think?), among others.

6) My world consists of way too many acronyms so, again, my apologies if I say something like: “Some PCVs went to the PCVLs and PCVCs to talk about their RC and the APCDs for the YD and SBD programs.”

7) I have absolutely no grasp on current events happening anywhere but in my site. And those current events mainly consist of whether or not it looks like rain.

8) I'm used to being able to say whatever comes to mind because nobody understands me. Hopefully I don't say anything too embarrassing in public.

So that's the ridiculous behavior you should prepare yourself for. I'll be home in 27 days... the days are currently moving like molasses but I know as soon as I'm on US soil they will be going into hyper speed. Regardless, January is a pretty busy month so hopefully I'll be seeing you before I know it!