So I have been in my community for about a month, finally feel comfortable with my huge extended host family of 17 people and as I have written in the previous post I have promising project ideas…feeling good right?
Well not completely. I had been warned before coming to site that the first few months will be extremely challenging – rainy season, school vacation just about to begin and people are busy working in the fields or even leaving for jobs in bigger cities – all things that make it hard to meet people and find people to work with.
But it really didn’t hit me until the week that the school year officially ended. The supportive teachers I met all commute from the different towns where they live and all leave during vacations. Meaning the push for summer school is complicated by no teacher support and the closing of the school buildings and resources. Also, my small town does not have many work opportunities – the people are either busy in the fields with their livestock and agriculture from early morning until 6pm or they leave for cities where they can find other jobs (in fact 3 of the men in my extended host family work in the mines and are only home a few days every 2 weeks). Without much warning, I discover two host nephew and niece will be returning to Huancayo for work during the next 2 months of school vacation, my host sister and her baby will be leaving for 1 month to spend time with her husband in Huancayo and another host nephew will be taking summer classes in Huancayo meaning his mother (or my host sister and community counterpart set up by Peace Corps) will also be leaving for the next 2 months!
That’s when it hit me that these challenges are very much present in my site; for the next 2 months I will not have the support of 5 people I know the best including my tentative community counterpart (as of now that is probably about 1/4 of the people I have close relationships and/or currently work with outside of the school system), no school resources and trouble tracking down hardworking community members.
I guess that just leaves more motivation to focus on my community diagnostic and meeting more people...