Saturday, September 5, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
First, I guess I will talk about trips and vacations and what not. Towards the end of July I ventured up to Ancash for fiestas patrias (peru’s independence day). Where is Ancash you ask. Ancash is a department in northern Peru. The capital of the department, Huaraz is about 8 hours away from Lima by bus. Why go to Ancash you ask. Well, first off, a bunch of other volunteers from my group we’re heading there to celebrate fiestas patrias. Second, Ancash contains the Cordillera Blanca. The Cordillera Blanca contains the biggest collection of tall nevadas in Peru. It is captained by Huascaran, which is the biggest mountain in Peru. The cool thing about Ancash is that, unlike in Arequipa, most of the nevadas still have snow on top. With that said, when we were in Ancash we did ice climbing (yes with picks and those sharp shoes) on a glacier. Furthermore, we saw some cool glacial lakes and enjoyed the festivities there. Although Ancash was cool, Arequipa is still the best department in Peru.
Another celebration we attended was dia de Arequipa or more commonly known to English speakers as Arequipa Day. Every year Arequipa has a huge party for the anniversary of its creation. The party includes 4 different concerts at once on Friday night and on Saturday a huge parade which lasts all day. It was rather fun and hopefully I’ll be around for it next year.
As far as work is concerned, July and August have both been rather slow months. However, this current week has actually been rather exciting. We are starting up computer classes again in Mid-September because the municipality has received 10 new computers with internet!!! This eliminates the previous problem I had with working at the high school because people are in the municipality at night. I plan on teaching how to use the internet and how to make your own website. In addition, I would like to teach personal finance using excel but only a few are interested in that so I think I’m going to teach them individually.
Aside from this, the tourism association seems to be resurrecting itself. We’ll have to wait to see if that actually happens. The best thing that has happened recently is that I am now coaching the high school soccer team haha, which is great. We just started this week. We practice at 5AM in the morning which is horrible but not really b/c I go to bed at around 9 or 930 every night. I think it’s a great activity for the youth though. It instills a little discipline in their lives as well as serving as an activity which they can do outside of school (there aren’t any of those).
I will be heading to Lima on Saturday for training and medical checks. So, hopefully I’ll be able to update while I’m in Lima. Until then, hope all is well.
Monday, June 8, 2009
In addition, yesterday, Lari played Sibayo in the first round of the Copa Peru. This is basically the biggest cup of the year. Lari had already won 4-0 in Sibayo. Therefore, Sibayo would have to win at least by a score of 4-0 in Lari to just tie. It ended up being a 0-0 tie. However, at the end of the game the players from Sibayo were rather upset with the ref of the game. Practically the whole team surrounded the ref and were yelling at him. The refs tried to escaped the field and did but not before one of the Sibayo players kicked the ref in the butt pretty hard. After that, the team from Lari reentered the field and trash talking ensued. Then, one of the Sibayo players went after one of the Lari players. You must keep in mind that there are no police in town. Once this happened, all the fans from both teams entered the field and a rather large fight broke out. It was kind of scary, but ended up stopping on its own and somehow the Sibayo team made it out of Lari safely. Apparently it was the first time something like this had happened in Lari which I find hard to believe.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Peace Corps is composed of many ups and downs. One year ago I was on a high. Right now, I’d have to say I’m in the middle. The reason Peace Corps is made up of so many ups and downs is because of the countless failures you face. Everyone arrives to Peace Corps service well aware of the failures to come. However, it remains rather difficult to put one’s head around just how many failures one will face. Up until this point, all of the main projects I have planned and tried to bring to fruition have pretty much failed which is rather hard to stomach again and again. However, many lessons are learned from such failures. One of which is that one really cannot change people by his self or herself. It takes a volunteer’s effort in addition to their community’s efforts. If the community does not provide the effort for the project, it will never reach its goals. Although one can beat his self or herself up over this fact, it really is not worth it. Many people have a problem accepting the fact that no matter how much one tries to change a person, if that person does not want to change, the person will never change no matter how much one tries. It is a simple fact of life but one that is hard to grasp. However, with the help of Peace Corps it’s one I have come to realize.
PS – A crying sheep outside my door all of last night…only in Peace Corps.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Back to real life. Once I got back from Argentina we partnered with an NGO from Arequipa called COPLAN and held a workshop on community leadership and teamwork. This will be the first workshop in a series of three. The partnership actually is a win win for both sides because COPLAN would never be able to coordinate something like this without us and we get access to having Peruvian young adults come to speak to the kids. The first workshop seemed to be a success. Hopefully all the kids continue to come.
Oh and the wind. A couple of days ago I woke up with a back pain which was connected to the movement of my head. Therefore, I figured it was because I slept incorrectly. Two days passed and I still had the pain. However, that day my host parents were going to harvest some potatoes and wanted me to come. I said no because of the back pain and of course they immediately were very worried. Everyone was telling me oh it must have been some bad air or the cold etc. Whatever, I’m not going to try to argue with them. I ended up getting some sort of plant which I cut open and rubbed the inside on my back. Then, at night my host mom made this woman come to do something. She through some plants on top of what looked like burning coal (it wasn’t) and then put the smoking bowl in my sleeping bag and made me take a breath of the smoke. Then, she put the bowl underneath my bed for a couple of minutes. Who knows what that was supposed to do. I do feel a little better today but I don’t think I’m going to give the smoking bowl the credit.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Well, apparently there are seven stages to mining. The first of which is sampling which Newmont has already completed in the targeted area. The second stage is exploration. According to the Newmont brochure I received, exploration is “the development of geological studies, geophysics and topography to determine the possible sites of mineral concentration.” This is the stage which Newmont would be performing over the next 6 months. The company does not need permission from the community to carry out this phase. However, I believe they tried to be respectable in case they needed to perform some more drastic tests in the future so they had this meeting.
Well the meeting was a complete and utter disaster for Newmont. Basically, they made a presentation on mostly the benefits of having them in town and kept on reinforcing that they would be socially responsible (to the tune of 25 soles a day for 8 hours of work of a community member, hmmmmm). Also, they explained the fact that this phase of work would not require permission, because it really did little harm to the land. Now, before the meeting I was informed that no one in the community wanted the mining company to do anything except the community president. After the meeting, I can confidently say that the information I received was 100% correct. Almost every community member expressed, rather fervently, his or her concerns to the mining company. It became more of a debate than anything. The thing I was confused about was why the mining company stayed for so long. It was rather clear the community wanted nothing to do with any sort of mining activity whether it was harmful or not.
It was rather difficult for me, because I knew I could not take part in this meeting. I could only be a spectator. Getting involved in such a meeting would probably leave me much too involved in the politics of the town. However, I am definitely against any sort of activities done by the company. First, supporting the company in their endeavors to do exploration would almost be like endorsing them for the stages to come. Second, the company can express their desires to fulfill their social responsibility. However, what is the one thing we all learn in business class? We learned that a company’s top priority is satisfying their stockholders, which means making profits. Unfortunately, that is what will always come first. So, yes they might provide some benefits to the community but probably the minimum. Third, if there is a mine here, the development will not be sustainable. The mine won’t be here forever and once it is gone, the community will be so used to the economic benefits the mine has produced, it won’t be able to produce any benefits for itself. Fourth, although a mine can do everything in its power to prevent pollution or accidents, there is still a great risk of something of the sort happening, and pollution is a major risk for an agricultural community.
So, clearly I have many problems with the whole idea of a mine here, haha. Last night was rather interesting to see though. I was surprised that no one in the community came around to the idea because of the economic benefits. Apart from that big news, my tourism association president is going to resign which will provide another large bump in the road, but thus is life here in peace corps. There are a heck of a lot of bumps, but we continue on nonetheless.