(written on Sunday- sorry it is now Thursday)
After enjoying a nice, relaxing weekend (read my last post please) we headed straight to another busy week of training. Monday was relatively uneventful with just a short session in San Vicente and then afternoon Spanish classes.
Tuesday was a typical day in San Vicente with medical information on nutrition (not going to happen here), a Civil War movie, a meeting on gangs, and then Trainee facilitated presentations (including mine this week). These sessions are supposed to help prepare us to give charlas (discussions) in our sites about various topics. Rachael and I presented on trash management and I think it went really well. We started off with a drawing of a house that was having serious issues with trash and then had the other trainees describe the problems in the photograph. Then I went into the discussion of potential sicknesses resulting from poor trash management. Then Rachael talked about the proper ways of disposing of trash. Then we had activity where the trainees had to place trash in the appropriate location. Pretty simple, but also in English, so I feel like this process will only be harder when I have to do this in Spanish. Oh well, one step at a time.
Tuesday was also my host mom’s birthday, so when I got home we had a big cake! It was a delicious dinner. I got her two small paintings in the market and pan dulce. She seemed to really love them both! J
Wednesday my group (Liz, Cory, and I) accompanied the La Cruz kids (the canton just down the road from us) on their caminata (which is like a hike that they took from La Cruz to San Esteban to climb our mountain in the community, which serves as their community project for training). Then once we got to the top of the mountain the trainees from La Cruz gave their discussions on self-esteem and goal setting. They did a really good job and it was nice to spend the morning not in Spanish class. Though in the afternoon we had to leave the caminata and head to lunch and then Spanish. This would have been a pretty normal day, but around 6 p.m. the town starts to freak out a little bit and my host mother informs me that some man was just shot near our community. Long story short this gang member on a motorcycle shot a driver of a pick up truck because he refused to pay him renta. It was all over town and caused a lot of upset because the driver had two young boys here in the local school. So everyone was really worried and upset over the entire thing. Furthermore, this caused all the transportation to shut down (except a few buses) causing even more problems for those needing to leave the community for the next few days. (Transportation was finally back and normal on Sunday).
Thursday we spent the morning shadowing a health promoter here in San Esteban. This is part of our “making community contacts” portion of training. First we met with the director of the Unidad de Salud, the health clinic in town. After our initial interview with her we scheduled this day to follow around this promoter. Our promoter’s duty for the day was to make house visits to women with very young children (4 days old) and see how they are doing. So, I spent the morning holding very little babies. I have never held something so young and fragile. It was so intimidating. I am not sure how you parents do it…
In the afternoon we ran into San Vicente (luckily finding a bus) to prepare for our caminata on Friday and buy prizes in the market for the winning team.
On Friday we had our caminata with our youth group! It started out a little rough because unexpectedly the kids all had to go to church in the morning to mourn the death of the pick u driver. So we got off to a late start, but no real harm done. I should also note that our original caminata was supposed to go to the place where the man was shot, so we had to change it last minute to the mountain and soccer field here close to the center of town. It was just decided that it was too dangerous to bring all the kids there. Totally understandable, but still kind of sad that we couldn’t take the kids somewhere a little bit different. Anyway, we started with a charla on trash management. It was a really simple discussion. But the best part is that we started it with a competition to see how much trash they could collect for the soccer field. Surprisingly, the kids loved this and gathered so much trash that we hardly knew what to do with it. It was such a wild success that we didn’t bring enough bags to deal with the amount that they collected. After that we started the field day like competitions between our two teams of 14 (tie dyed black and red versus green and yellow) including: tug of war, potato sack race, wheel barrow race, egg race, a balloon popping race, limbo, and then ended with a soccer game. The yellow and green team one getting a marvelous prize of a new water cup. We went with the recycling theme! Overall I will say that it was a great success and all the kids seemed to have a really good time. But I have to admit it was a really challenging event to actually see through and definitely frustrating at times. The biggest challenges were getting the kids to listen, dealing with cheating and arguing, and also dealing with their sometimes too competitive teachers. I definitely need to come up with more effective strategies for handling these issues. I don’t think I am quite firm enough yet with the kids, but I feel that is something that I can improve on with time and experience.
This weekend has been filled with our community festival/carnival. I was really excited the first day but then I quickly realized that the positives of the festival are minimal. Picture those rinky dink fairs near your house during the summer. They are kind of creepy looking with a shaking ferris wheel that you should never in your life go on because it might just fall apart. Yes, that is what has taken over my community complete with the token fair foods and random places to buy music, jewelry, and random junk. It has also brought an influx of random people, drunk men, stray dogs, fireworks (these are the worst), more noise than usual, and an end to my sleeping. I should mention that the festival is literally on my doorstep. Because my house faces the park there is literally no separation between my house and the fair. Yes, I am living in the middle of a fair right now. It is not all bad though. I got to go to the dance which after reminding me of a seventh grade dance where no one wants to make the first move, was actually a lot of fun. Did I mention that my group was the awesome magic to get the party started? We went right in and danced immediately: 4 gringos and our close friends in the community (most of which are friends of my host sister). It was a great night because I really enjoyed being out with my host sister. Plus, Salvadorans take their dancing so seriously that it is really fun to watch them. I just danced like a crazy white person and luckily they all would clap and scream. I’ll take it.
Wow, I need to stop this post. It is getting ridiculous. All I will say is that I am happy that this fair ends tomorrow and I can sleep again. I need my sleep this week because it is literally the second biggest week of training. Not only am I going to the capital to have tea with the ambassador, but Thursday is my Spanish interview (intermediate mid PLEASE!) and my site assignment day. If you can drop me a line of luck that day!
All my love to the states.