Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Training Projects

Word of warning: this was written on Sunday.

In my last blog post I tried to provide an adequate look at the life of a Peace Corps El Salvador trainee. But I figured I needed a follow up post that would more directly highlight what I need to accomplish during training. Aside from learning Spanish, going to all the sessions in San Vicente, and making various community contacts, there are also a few other requirements.

One of those requirements is that we complete a mini project with a youth group in our respective communities. We met with our group on Friday at the school. They are a very active, participative, rowdy group of eighth graders. I am happy to report that our meeting went wonderfully. We started with a name game ice breaker that the kids loved, then we introduced ourselves and Peace Corps, had another ice breaker to divide them into four groups, and then each of the four groups brainstormed project ideas. I was so impressed with our kids. Their ideas include: cleaning up the community and or school, recycling project, art/craft/artesian project, garden project, discussions of prevention and health, sports day, and quite a few more. We are meeting with them tomorrow to vote on the ideas and then make a decision about which one we are going to tackle. I am just so thrilled that the kids had such good ideas and are so anxious to do something. Of course, we will have to see how many show up tomorrow, but right now I am pretty optimistic.

In addition to the project with the students, we also have to teach an English class at the end of this month in the school. I am incredibly nervous about the entire thing. First and foremost, I am not a competent teacher. Also, I would argue that my English is definitely not the best. Of course, I am a native speaker, but seriously my grammar is in the toilet. Anyway, another reason I am feeling apprehensive is that we observed the English class at the school early this week and it was dreadful in more ways than one. The students were doing the following instead of learning: leaving the room, talking, shouting “teacher,” out buying snacks, singing, and randomly getting up. To make matters worse the teacher was giving a lesson completely wrong. I guess that should make me feel better about my own ability to teach English, but it doesn’t. All I can do right now is hope I get an awesome topic to teach and try not to worry about it too much.

Next, I have to give a formal discussion in front of the whole training group and my two project managers about a certain topic. This is kind of like performing an entire teaching lesson in front of them. My topic is trash management and I am doing it with another trainee named Rachael. I am actually excited about this one because it is in English (which is definitely easier) and it is a topic that I definitely hope to work a lot with here in El Salvador. Plus, I think Rachael and I came up with a good lesson plan. So, I am feeling good about that presentation.

This is in addition to the rest of the community contacts that I have to make on my own with people or institutions that we have not interviewed yet, achieving an Intermediate on my Spanish interview, and completing my random homework assignments.

Between the last post and this one, I feel like this is way to work oriented and not enough of the other stuff. So let’s see what else happened this week:

We had a field trip to San Salvador on Thursday, which included a museum trip, a visit to the main headquarters of Peace Corps, the metro center shopping area and of course Pizza Hut. It was a good day. No one got robbed or had any issues throughout the whole process, which is good to hear considering someone got shot 4 blocks from the Peace Corps office a few days before (which now means no one can walk to the office, you must arrive in a bus or a cab).

Moving on before I worry my mother with the dangerous topics…I promise everything is tranquil here where I live. Well except for the weather, but I feel like I am getting used to the ridiculousness that is the rain here. I also feel like as I approach the one month mark that I am really starting to love my family (half of which left on Saturday to go back to the states and I cried my eyes out already). I really don’t want to think about leaving here. My host mom is so cute and brings me everywhere with her holding my hand. My host sister is awesome because she speaks slowly so that I can learn more words and we went shopping together today. She is my age but she has a son (whose father is in the states) . Our lives are different but we still have a good time together. My host dad is quiet but the Real Madrid v. Barcelona game was today and I bought him a Barcelona mug in the market (we both like Barcelona and everyone else in the house likes Real Madrid) and that made him have a great big smile. We have a great comfortable silence during soccer games. Speaking on which, the game ended in a tie, so we are all equally happy/sad.

I think that it is for now. But here are a few things to note about this upcoming week:
I have class on Monday and the meeting with my student group
Tuesday I am in San V for meetings, medical, etc.
Wednesday is more class
And then Thursday I leave for IMMERSION WEEKEND, which is where I deal with my first big test since arriving. I am spending the weekend with a PCV somewhere (unknown to me right now). It could end up I have to travel up to 8 hours by myself to reach this person (yes all by myself). This is the first chance we are going to get to see what life is really like for a volunteer. I am pretty sure this is make it or break it time. Wish me luck!

Look out for the follow up post about Immersion Weekend and find out if I survived!


  1. I am so glad that you are having an excellent time there and learning so much. I love reading your blogs and look forward to more to come. Best of luck on your big test; I know you will do well. Take care.

    Debra Sparks

  2. I really enjoyed your entry Jamie. I especially liked the section on your family there and all the efforts they're making so that you feel at home. Best of luck with immersion weekend -- I'm sure it will be challenging but also so interesting. Love & hugs to you, Aunt Laurie
    P.S. Your grammar is "not in the toilet"!! I love how you write.

  3. Enjoyed this post,and love that the family is looking out for you,and their own.I know this is not permanent,but hoping this continues to your next home.I especially like that your host mom holds your hand.makes me smile..I know the immersion weekend will be a challenge,but I know your smart and strong,and will take all advice that you have been given in training to good use...i love you and please stay safe