Today makes two weeks in country! Here’s the overview:
After our first three day arrival event, we were split into groups based on both our Spanish speaking abilities and our technical program (for me, Sustainable Agriculture Food Security). Then our groups were sprinkled out in communities within a 40 minute camioneta commute from PCHQ in Santa Lucia Milpas Altas. Our training cycle has presented some difficulties because we didn’t cluster well with our speaking ablilites within the technical groups. So, I find myself in a group of 8 trainees in one community split into three language levels that straddle two technical projects. (I assume that ideally we’d have one tech group per community and one or two language levels.)
The philosophy behind the 11 weeks of training is learning by doing in a community based training (CBT) context. I’ve now moved to my Sumpango Host Family’s home and split my time between Spanish language/Guatemalan culture classes and Technical training sessions most days (Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri, and a half day on Sat). My technical (Food Security) group is split between two towns, so half the group gets a ride from our trainer to the other town most days for a 2-4 hour session.
Tuesdays are set aside for Common Sessions at PCHQ with the whole training group (all three technical groups). These days are mainly spent on medical, safety, and general cultural adjustment sessions with a little bit of technical training thrown in. Early on we received a mini briefcase full of medical supplies and then we tackle a different theme each week more in depth. For example, yesterday was D Day. Yes, that stands for Diarrhea.
Upcoming milestones in training include:
·Day-trip to a current volunteer’s site (tomorrow!)
·Field Based Training week long trip to stretch our Spanish and technical wings (September)
·Receive Site Assignment (October 14)
·Site Visit for four nights (the following week…. Also hopefully moving into my site at least halfway)
·Swearing in as a real Peace Corps Volunteer (October 29)
In between all these events I’ll be giving many practice presentations (one in English, the rest in Spanish) known as charlas (or chats). Along the way the staff will evaluate/observe us to get to know us (our skills, interests, strengths) and match us with our sites for the following two years. In Sustainable Agriculture there are 17 trainees and 30 sites who requested us, so hopefully that leaves them enough flexibility to avoid serious mismatches.
All in all, I feel I’m in good hands those training me and placing me. The one thing I’m antsy for is learning a Mayan language (which will very likely be the dominant language in my site). But, since my site is still TBD I don’t know which language to start learning! Ah well, patience, patience, patience. That’s going to have to become my middle name.