catherinelampi23:

Ginger Does the Campo: Round 1

My mom came to El Salvador with few expectations, not knowing what to expect and using my blog (and Facebook posts about tarantulas) as her guide to life in El Salvador. Her final impression- words and photos can only do so much justice to the life of a PCV and the reality of the communities we work in. I tried to ease her into the impending culture shock; we spent her first night in a hotel, enjoyed take-out with my two PCV soul sisters Aisha and Emily and lounged in the air conditioning. Her first night impression: This isn’t so bad.

We hit the road the next morning, leaving behind the hot water and Wi-Fi for bucket baths and Spanish. Our first stop was 7 de Marzo, the community where I lived during our 10 week training, to see my first host family and the puppy I had left behind. For those of you who have never traveled to Nuevo Cuscatlán let me set the scene. The drive up is lined with gated communities, beautiful houses in the hills guarded by machine guns and barbed wire. Shopping centers, nice cars, and the newly designed, very modern Nuevo Cuscatlán logo line the streets. It is a very deceptive image. My mom later told me, the whole way she was thinking “this isn’t so bad, what was Catherine complaining about”. Then you hit the pueblo, and the view changes dramatically. You are hit with a wave of stray dogs, bollos, street food and barred windows. Graffiti, loud music and trash; tin roofs, adobe houses and dirt roads. Too me, these sites were all a welcome home, I recognized the people, spotted my favorite tienda, but to my mom, the separation between the rich and the rest was immediately apparent. My mom was sitting silently in shock as we pulled up to my training site. Too me it was all the same, the only noticeable difference was that my puppy was now the size of a small horse. With no Spanish language skills, she put on the best Iamnotscaredoutofmymind smile and hugged all the family members and neighbors who were gawking at us, stepped into the compound and just like that her adventure had begun.  

If you can remember the stories and pictures from my first months here, you will recall that I was not living in luxury. I was a scared, non-Spanish speaking gringa thrown into a house with a bunch of curious, non-English speaking Salvadorans. My mom was in the same boat. She had me, but, after 7 months, my host mom was not giving me much opportunity to speak English. I wasn’t doing her much good. She sat, smiled and responded to every jumble of Spanish with a smile and “Si”, just as I had done so many months prior. We sat outside and watched the boys play guitar, ate, snacked and ate again (food is love in El Salvador) while Christina and I caught up on all the chambre and she filled me in on all the new merchandise in the tienda. It was if nothing had changed, besides the fact that we could actually communicate. If anyone is looking for a boost in your secondary language ego, I recommend a trip home to your training community, where everyone will “ohhh” and “ahhh” over the fact that you are no longer speaking at a second grade level. It was a strange feeling to be in the house and not be the one completely lost in the translation. My mom had the opportunity to understand what my first weeks in country were like. Christina, being the chatterbox that she is, assumed that the more activities and conversation there was, the faster my mom would learn. I must applaud her efforts, and now understand why I learned so much Spanish in her house. She wants to know where you where, who you saw, what you did, ALL THE TIME. She wants the scoop and she will patiently sit through broken Spanish to get the story. Who knew all those hours spent at her table with pan dulce and coffee was actually Spanish Class Round 2.

Along with the culture shock, 7 de Marzo provided my mom with her introduction to platos tipicos from El Salvador. After her first sleepless night she woke up bright and early to prepare and enjoy pupusas. Pupusas, the pride and joy of Salvadoran cuisine, are, in simple terms, a tortilla filed with cheese, beans, chicken, garlic, etc. Best eaten with cortido and salsa negro, they can be enjoyed morning or night, with a cold beer or a cup of coffee. There is even a song dedicated to the pupusas and how much we all love them. My mom gave them 1.5 out of 5 stars. We were off to a rocky start. That afternoon, while I suffered through a parasite, she was left to fend for herself, and tasted Christina’s chicken soup (3 stars) tortillas (negative 5 stars) and tamales (4 stars). Needless to say, she was looking forward to a change in the menu, and hoping to never see a tortilla again.

My mom was a real trooper, she adopted the attitude that got me through training, which is forcing yourself to laugh at the bad, because you cant change it. Cockroaches covering the latrine, pee outside. Don’t understand anything that is going on, smile and nod. She did a great job pretending to like all the food she was given, and ignore the giant beetles and bird poop.

After her first nights in the campo, the Final Verdict was : I give you all the credit in the world.  

culture culture shock elsalvador peacecorps friends and family reblogs

kellycfitzgerald:

Writing my name!

culture hanzi china zhangye peacecorps reblogs

AND THE WINNER IS…

Congratulations to David Malana, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, whose “Kyrgyzstan is Me” video was selected as the winner of our 2014 Peace Corps Week Video Contest!

His was selected based on its ability to increase cross-cultural understanding, the cultural richness of the video, and the quality of the video production. As winner of the competition, he will receive an iPad to help him as he continues to share his country of service with the world.

Spend your weekend watching all the great entries  

(Source: 1.usa.gov)

Kyrgyzstan culture cross-cultural understanding PCWeek2014 videos Peace Corps Volunteers

"I think their favorite part of the tour though was playing on the beach because many of them had never seen the ocean before.”

A group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Namibia recently came together in collaboration with a local nonprofit organization to lead a week-long educational tour of the country for 40 at-risk youth. The tour is an annual initiative led by Peace Corps Namibia’s diversity committee aimed at providing orphans and marginalized youth — many of whom have never traveled outside of their own community — with the opportunity to explore Namibia, develop a respect and appreciation for other local cultures, and build healthy lifestyle and leadership skills. 

(Source: peacecorps.gov)

Africa Namibia at-risk youth diversity culture health leadership travel

"The photo shows the owner of the home we stayed in for the two years of our Peace Corps service. My parents sent me the Mad magazine and I shared it with him. I don’t know that he understood the humor of Mad, but he seemed interested. The photo was taken in the yard of the home we lived in looking north toward the volcano Kanlaon from which the town gets its name." - Peace Corps Volunteer Richard Johnsen (Philippines - 1964) #madmagazine #funny #Asia #Philippines #peacecorps #culture #culturalexchange #throwbackthursday #tbt #1960s

"The photo shows the owner of the home we stayed in for the two years of our Peace Corps service. My parents sent me the Mad magazine and I shared it with him. I don’t know that he understood the humor of Mad, but he seemed interested. The photo was taken in the yard of the home we lived in looking north toward the volcano Kanlaon from which the town gets its name." - Peace Corps Volunteer Richard Johnsen (Philippines - 1964) #madmagazine #funny #Asia #Philippines #peacecorps #culture #culturalexchange #throwbackthursday #tbt #1960s

funny culturalexchange throwbackthursday madmagazine philippines tbt asia culture 1960s peacecorps

"Two older women, called Tatik in Armenian, would be sitting along the road I took into town everyday. Without fail, I could expect a comment on what I was wearing, what I had bought from the store, or where I was headed so quickly. These women were intimidating in the beginning, but I learned to love interacting with them everyday."  - Peace Corps Volunteer Emily Hass #latergram #photoofthedday #Armenia #culture #peacecorps #women #tatik

"Two older women, called Tatik in Armenian, would be sitting along the road I took into town everyday. Without fail, I could expect a comment on what I was wearing, what I had bought from the store, or where I was headed so quickly. These women were intimidating in the beginning, but I learned to love interacting with them everyday." - Peace Corps Volunteer Emily Hass #latergram #photoofthedday #Armenia #culture #peacecorps #women #tatik

photoofthedday tatik culture armenia peacecorps latergram women

Peace Corps Volunteer Greg Plimpton is trying to preserve local culture by helping to protect an ancient burial site near his Peruvian village. Plimpton, known by his community as “Goyo,” has been raising awareness around the importance of the site since July 2012. Now, he is working with fellow Peace Corps Volunteers, the Peruvian government and Stanford University archeologists to orchestrate an archeological dig and build a museum and visitor center adjacent to the site.

history archeology Peru culture museums tourism

stineinwonderland:

If you know me in the slightest bit you know I love working with kids. I’ve been a nanny and a summer camp counselor for most of my life and absolutely love the feeling of getting to act like a child again and be ridiculously silly. For the past month, I’ve been working at an elementary school teaching 3rd and 4th graders English, and will be doing so throughout the rest of my service here in China.
The thing I’m loving the most about teaching these kids, besides getting to do the hokey pokey, sing songs, and do arts and crafts, is that they bring me a sense of familiarity. Here in China it’s hard to find many similarities between home (America) and my now, home away from home (Nan’Shan). But these little kids are the one thing that is similar and it’s refreshing. They love to ask questions, they love to help me with my Chinese, they love to dance and giggle and run around, they’re still so innocent and without a care in the world. Being around them brings me so much joy and I can’t wait to continue working with them, to play with them, and watch them grow.

stineinwonderland:

If you know me in the slightest bit you know I love working with kids. I’ve been a nanny and a summer camp counselor for most of my life and absolutely love the feeling of getting to act like a child again and be ridiculously silly. For the past month, I’ve been working at an elementary school teaching 3rd and 4th graders English, and will be doing so throughout the rest of my service here in China.

The thing I’m loving the most about teaching these kids, besides getting to do the hokey pokey, sing songs, and do arts and crafts, is that they bring me a sense of familiarity. Here in China it’s hard to find many similarities between home (America) and my now, home away from home (Nan’Shan). But these little kids are the one thing that is similar and it’s refreshing. They love to ask questions, they love to help me with my Chinese, they love to dance and giggle and run around, they’re still so innocent and without a care in the world. Being around them brings me so much joy and I can’t wait to continue working with them, to play with them, and watch them grow.

China Secondary Projects Peace Corps Volunteer reblogs English education Teaching English as a Foreign Language TEFL TESL youth school culture