Thursday, March 7, 2013

La casita

For weeks I didn´t know where I would live for the year.  I have been staying in a Center, temporarily, until the volunteer house opened at the beginning of March.  However, now my duties here have changed, and I can no longer live in the volunteer house.  There was talk about me doing a home stay, or living in a small house on the school´s campus.  But it has finally been decided...I will stay where I have been living!  It is in a wonderful location, on a main street, near everything.  To get to school, I just walk out the door, hop on the very crowded bus, and ride (sometimes standing!) for 7 minutes.  There is a family living at the center, taking care of it.  The parents are 36 and 37, so close to my age.  They have two daughters, 15 and 1.  The mother is a wonderful cook.  They only food I haven´t liked was lentils (and I already knew I didn´t like lentils!).  The center is used as a shelter for boys, but there has been talk about it not opening this year.  So, we´ll have to wait and see if I´ll be living there with just the family, or with 8-10 adolescent boys.
The casita.  My room is top left, under CRISTO.

The patio as you enter the front door. 

The Kitchen

My room is top right

Second floor, all bedrooms

My room

My private bathroom.  Hot water!!!

View from my room.  Avenida Bolognesi

View from the roof

This is my home until December!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My story

People ask me everyday, "What´s your story?  How did you get here?"  So here´s my story...

I am spending a year in Tacna, Peru.  Tacna is in southern Peru, near the border of Chile.  I will be teaching English in kindergarten and 1st grade at el Colegio Cristo Rey, an all boys, Catholic school.  How did I end up here?  To answer this, I´ll go back 11 years.

In the spring of 2002, I traveled to Peru on an Alternative Spring Break trip offered by the Chaplain´s Office at Ohio Wesleyan University.  Our group was led by Patricio (Pachi) Plazolles.  We spent a week in Arequipa, living with families, visiting day care centers, and assisting teachers at InterVida.  While there I met a woman who owned a school.  She asked me to stay and be her English teacher.  I had only two months until graduation from college, so of course I could not stay.  But I have never forgotten that conversation, or the excitement I felt at the opportunity to spend time abroad. 

That week changed me forever.  I fell in love with Peru: the people, the food, the landscape.  Everything! 

Fast forward 8 years to the summer of 2010.  Itching to return to Peru, I signed up for a two week trip with GEEO.  I went a week early and visited the family I had stayed with in college.  Then I met the group of teachers I would spend the next two weeks with.  We toured Lima and Cusco, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and spent three days in the small village of Ccaccaccollo.  We visited the school, learned about traditional weaving practices, and built a stove for a family.  (Click HERE to view my virtual field trip to Ccaccaccollo.) 

My love for Peru grew even more over those three weeks.  And I still had the desire to spend a year teaching there.

Finally, after many years, I decided it was time!  I asked for help from my dear friend, Pachi, and he put me in contact with the school in Tacna.  The process took over a year, and there were days I was sure things would not work out.  But in the end, I was accepted by the school.  I took a one year sabbatical leave from Cloverleaf High School, packed up my apartment, stored all my belongings in my cousin´s basement, and boarded the plane.  (Click HERE to see an article about me.  It´s not completely accurate, but not too bad.)

And here I am.  I am living in Peru.  I am living my dream!  It took 11 years, but it is happening.  I have been here for almost one month.  I love the town and the people.  Everyone has been very welcoming.  I feel like a part of the school already.  We´ve been planning for weeks, and classes begin Friday!

I hope that you will follow my experiences and adventures over the next year!