Last Wednesday, the 26 trainees remaining in my group and 26 counterparts (teachers with whom we’ll be working closely in our new sites) got together in a small, well-air-conditioned room in a nearby town. The eight hours we spent together were really exhausting, but so great! Our training facilitators did some Peace Corps 101 for the counterparts, we talked about our new schools’ and towns’ cultures, we ate lunch together, and we even ended the day with a group hug!
The next morning, we divided to head to the towns themselves to spend the weekend getting to know the people with whom we’ll be living and working. Because my site is so close to the city, many of the teachers there actually live in the city. Fortunately, I will still have a host family there to help me connect with the community…but I don’t know who they are yet.
One of our volunteer leaders is set up in my new site, so I spent the weekend at her apartment. She was a fabulous host mom – always feeding me way too much!
Since I will primarily be working with the schools and teachers in town, visiting them was my main focus. I went to all three of the campuses with which I will be working closely, and met as many staff members as I could. At one school, I was introduced in front of a full school assembly and managed to spit out a “I’m really excited to be here and get to know all of you and learn with you!” in Spanish. At the other, I had the opportunity to observe a couple classes and chat with some of the students. (There was one moment where I was sitting in the classroom with some of the students waiting for the teacher to arrive, and one girl was belting out a song while other kids drummed on a desk, and I felt like I was inside Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit and that soon enough we’d get to this part, and I was so happy.)
Because I will also be working in the community, I headed to the mayor’s office. While I wasn’t able to meet him (he was busy meeting the Colombian President Santos), I did get to know the Secretary of Education for the municipality a bit, and even went to lunch with him! #brushingelbows The picture at the beginning of this post is from the lunch. We ate at a great seaside restaurant next to the town’s historical monument.
Besides that, I explored the town on my “host mom’s” bike and on foot, and I ate the crap out of all the food I could find, including about 12 cookies in a sitting (see pictures throughout this post).