Sunday, August 28, 2011

Training Update

They are keeping us busier than a one legged man in a *butt* kicking competition! My Spanish is improving exponentially, and I can almost have real conversations with my new best friend Ariel. He’s 6. We’ve been out hiking to visit the water system in our community and spent an afternoon digging a drainage ditch. The town of Los Mortales is so so welcoming and it’s been a pleasure being here so far! My only complaint is that boys wearing Crocs shouldn’t be allowed to school me at soccer!

We’re stuck between a rock and the middle of nowhere, so if you were wondering, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth! I’m doing well and trucking on! :)

Next week I’m headed out to spend 4 days with another environmental health volunteer in her site in the Comarca Ngobe Bugle on the east side of the country! Reality check here I come!

The Little Chicken that Did

Last Wednesday started like any other. I woke up and went running – Erica’s motivation surpassed mine and I gave in and sprinted up the last hill… twice. I came home and put on my Saturday underwear from my limited array of clean options. Washed some clothes and put them out to dry… but it rained before I got back from class. But then my day turned around and the Gods smiled my way. Sean, one of the other volunteers, and his host brother were headed home and what was in his brother’s bag? A live chicken. Yes indeed, they were headed home to kill it. Ummm, heck YES I’ll go and watch! (Not that I like seeing things die – because I really don’t but I’m always up for a new experience!) Poor guy knew what he had coming and just couldn’t do anything about it. Except try to bite Sean’s hands. He knew better than to mess with Bri Drake.

Our good friend Javier tied his feet and hung him upside down from a tree. He took the machete and brought dinner one step closer to the table. Mmmya!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Host Family Stay!

We are leaving shortly to move in with our host families for the next 3 months. So.... I'm pretty excited because my family fact sheet says we'll have 2 dogs, 1 parrot, 3 parakeets, 30 chickens, and a monkey! I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty pumped! We're moving to the land of no internet, but I'll put up pictures when possible!
Yesterday was our first visit to a volunteer's site. It was really interesting to see the spring catchment area she constructed and the aqueduct in process of being replaced. It was also cool hiking uphill out of town for about a half hour in the pouring rain. I was glad I packed a raincoat!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Holy WoWzA!

I made it to Panama safe and sound! My training group of Environmental Health volunteers is 17 people who I've already become very close to. I never thought two days could seem so LONG! Definitely in a very good way, but we sure have covered a lot so far! The training staff in Panama have been so welcoming and seem very supportive and on top of their game. I'm in good hands!

We're headed out to visit an environmental health volunteer's village bright and early tomorrow morning. It will be a great opportunity to give us sneak peak of what our life could be like in 9 short weeks! :D

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Adventure Begins!

Panama is in my sights! I'm in Virginia this weekend to spend some time with my brother, sister-in-law, and some college friends before meeting up with the rest of the Panama Peace Corps Environmental Health crew (17 of us) in D.C. Then we'll all fly out together on the 17th.

3 months of language, cultural, and technical skill training is in store and then this fall I will move to the community I will call home for the next two years!

I'm going to try to keep this blog interesting - criticisms accepted - so you'll enjoy reading it! Let me know if you are curious about anything in particular!

Thank you so much for your support. I sure do have an awesome group of friends and family! Here we go!

What is Peace Corps?

The Peace Corps was created in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy when the first volunteers served as teachers in Ghana. Over the last 50 years, 200,000 volunteers have served all over the world in fields relating to agriculture, economic development, youth programs, public health, and education.

All Peace Corps service is a 27 month commitment; 3 months of training and 2 years working at a specific site.

I will be serving as an Environmental Health volunteer in Panama. All I know is what I’ve read in the volunteer description, and what I’ve been told is that the volunteer description can’t be trusted! That being said, I will most likely be living in a rural or indigenous community where I will work on water and sanitation projects as well as community health outreach. I will also be completing a research project to finish up my Masters’ degree program at Michigan Tech.

To learn more about the Peace Corps, check out their website!

“Peace Corps is a special job. There is an emphasis on development, but a focus on understanding the people with whom we are living. It is when people know us and trust us that we are able to be our most effective.”

-Chris Morrill, Volunteer in El Salvador and Bolivia