Monday, August 31, 2009

Second Week of Training


This Monday through Wednesday was the same routine of Environmental Health class in the morning and Spanish class in the afternoon for four hours each. Before class I usually run, shower, eat, read, and then head to class, which starts at 8. This week in class we talked about various activities that might help you analyze a community, including a community map, daily schedules, yearly schedules, and a community history.

On Thursday, each of the volunteers had a chance to go visit a current volunteer at his or her site. I got to head east from Panama City to visit my volunteer. He met me at the bus stop and proceeded to walk about 2.5 hours with my stuff on his horse to his site. He is currently working on installing a turbine and generator by a waterfall in his community to produce electricity, since the community doesn´t have that yet. Our task was to hike out to different waterfalls around the area to see how high they were in order to get an accurate estimate of power production. This meant that we got to put our swimsuits on and swim and hike to about six different waterfalls, climbing up them if necessary. I also got to learn how to cook garlic bread, sugar bread, stir fry, lintels, etc. I already find out where my official site will be next week, so that will be exciting.

This upcoming week will be more spanish class, project management training, and a community analysis for our training community.

Blessings to you!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

First Week of Training

Good afternoon! We have the afternoon free so I´ve finally got some time to write up another entry. It looks like Brett Favre just signed with the Vikings so I´ve missed some big news since I last went on the internet!

Last Sunday we traveled from our retreat to our host community, where each volunteer lives with a different host family. I´m living with an older couple that has quite a bit of family in the houses next door. Their daughter has an 8-year old boy and two 3-year old girl twins that come by to play whenever they can. We´ve already played some frisbee outside in the yard. When I arrived on Sunday we had some chicken noodle soup, the chicken fresh from their yard a couple days earlier. It was a bit nerve-racking seeing the volunteers being dropped off one-by-one, but living with the host family has been a great opportunity to learn more about the culture, family life, FOOD, etc.

Monday through Thursday was spent going to Spanish class in the morning and then Environmental Health technical classes in the afternoon. We have only three students in our session, so it is a great environment for learning the language. Our first homework assignment was figuring out the family tree for our host family. In our Environmental Health (EH) classes we´ve been learning about what EH volunteers do in the field and about different roles of the volunteer (learner, teacher, co-facilitator, etc.). The highlight of the week was yesterday as we had a rainforest tour, learned about different local materials for effective composting, learned how to care for and operate a machete (which I now own), and built a concrete floor. Today we had a quick tour of Panama City before some free time this afternoon.

Next week we will have more spanish and technical classes through Wednesday before heading out individually to meet up with a current volunteer. It will be exciting to spend a few days learning about what life is really like as a volunteer.

I hope you are all well. I would love to hear more about what´s going on in your life so feel free to send me an update of your life to .

Blessings to you,


Friday, August 14, 2009

Staging and the First Days in Panama

Good morning!

I hope everyone is doing well. I just wanted to recap a bit my staging experience up in Washington, D.C. and then my first couple days here near Panama City.

On Sunday I woke up early and said goodbye to my parents very early in the morning and flew down to Orlando with Sarah. After waiting for some late luggage to arrive, we got to take some engagement pictures by the beach and with the animals at the barn. We had a very nice family get together with her family and friends Sunday night and then got to spend some time together on Monday before I left Tuesday morning for Washington, D.C. for staging.

Staging is a one day event where you turn in all your medical forms, receive your passport, get to know all the other Panama volunteers, and learn more about who the Peace Corps is, what their mission is, and how the volunteers fit into that mission. I choose my last meal to be an all-you-can-eat salad and meat restaurant downtown--delicious!

There are about 36 volunteers in our group, mostly from environmental health and business backgrounds. We have two married couples in our group, a few older adults, but the vast majority are students who just graduated from college.

Wednesday morning we left Washington, D.C. for Miami and then on to Panama City. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Marcus, a five year-old who loved to look outside at all the big planes and then look down as we took off to see all the houses getting smaller as we flew higher. Two Peace Corps volunteers who were sitting behind me commented on how we both had the same childish wonder as we were looking down at the buildings and cars below. Sadly they didn't serve any food on the flight, so I had to wait until we arrived at our lodging before we had dinner. I was quite hungry!

We are currently lodging at the City of Knowledge in Panama City, an old army base that is now the home of many NGOs and university offices. We will be here through Sunday as we learn more about the Peace Corps, take some initial spanish language tests, and get all of our health and banking needs in order. We have a tv, wireless internet, and air conditioning, but that will be about to change as we head to our training site on Sunday. Last night we had a bit of free time so we played our first game of Settlers of Catan. I also got to talk to Sarah for a bit as she prepares to start her last year of school.

The food has been very good so far. They serve everything buffet style, which means that I can go back for seconds! Breakfasts have been pancakes, hashbrowns, cooked banana, and juice. The other meals consist of rice, beans, cooked banana, and some type of meat. They say this will be the best food we'll get in quite a while!

I also learned that a few of the volunteers have played some ultimate frisbee in the past. I'm hoping to get a game started at some point when we have free time. There are also a couple guys who are wanting to get a bible study started, so I look forward to meeting together with them.

On Sunday we will head about an hour outside of Panama City, where we will spend ten weeks of health, culture, language, and technical training. We will spend our evenings and nights with a host family, where we have the opportunity to learn more of the language and get to know the people better.

I hope you are all doing well and wish you a blessed weekend!