Hopeful About the Future

I wanted to follow up on my post about Vacaciones Útiles, or summer classes, because my first class was yesterday, and it really made my day! I walked into the class in the afternoon with a fuzzy brain because I’m fighting a cold, and I reminded myself to maintain my confidence, connect with the students, talk to them like adults…and to forget the drowsiness and insecurities that were trying to dominate. So, I started out by introducing myself, telling them a little about where I grew up, my work in the US and what I am doing here, and I asked them all to tell me a little about themselves – as a homework assignment…(Since there were 16 of them, and I only had 40 minutes, I didn’t have time to hear from everyone unfortunately).


There were mostly girls – 11 girls and 6 boys, which was interesting, being that it was a class for video production and editing, and statistics say that there are fewer women in tech fields than men, so it was interesting to see solid interest by the girls!

I launched into our first lesson, which (as I’m sure you remember from the previous blog :)) was about values. (Again, I have to really give all the credit here to Peace Corps Peru, because I hardly had to do any preparation; PC Peru gave us great materials for these lessons!) We did a dinamica (interactive activity), in which I read a statement and the students decided if they agreed, disagreed, or were unsure. To indicate their stance on the issue, they walked to a corner of the room that represented their response – signs in each corner indicated that they agreed, disagreed, or were unsure. Once they had all chosen their stance (their corner), I asked one or two students from each stance to explain why they chose what they chose.

IMG_20170113_162140These jovenes, (young adults) were great! They had really thoughtful answers and were very respectful, and they all participated! I want to share a few of the questions and their responses, because it shows that times are changing and the younger generations are learning about and thinking progressively about gender equality, health, the environment, and their communities.

  1. A person can have a good job without finishing high school.

>> The majority disagreed saying that jobs usually asked for your credentials proving you had finished high school, but a few (most of the boys) took the position of being unsure, explaining their reasoning by recounting stories of people who had not finished school but had become very rich.

  1. Women should sometimes pay the expenses for a date.

>>Unsurprisingly, all the boys agreed with this one! The majority agreed, but about 4-5 girls disagreed saying that men traditionally pay, and as that is the custom, they should always pay. A few were unsure saying it depended on the situation.

  1. Throwing trash out the window of a car doesn’t really impact the environment.

>>Everyone disagreed, saying that trash needed to be thrown in the trash can.

  1. Men can be good secretaries or nurses.

>>All the boys agreed with this one! And the majority of the class agreed with this, but about 5-6 girls were unsure and said that sometimes boys were less responsible or didn’t have sufficient education and so there might be cases were it wasn’t true.

  1. If they decide to have kids, women should stay at home and raise the children.

>>No one agreed with this one; they said that women could have kids and do other things too.

  1. One person is not responsible for the health of others.

>>All but one person disagreed with this, giving examples of how someone who doesn’t wash their hands can pass germs to others, affecting their health. Also, one of the girls pointed out that sometimes we have to care for our family members who are sick. One boy was unsure because he said if a person lives all alone on his farm and has no contact with others, he might not impact the health of others.

  1. Men should know how to cook and wash clothes.

>>Everyone agreed with this!

  1. A citizen can’t affect change in their community.

>>Everyone disagreed with this one, though there was a really great discussion about whether one person alone could affect change; they agreed that one person could start the change and encourage others, but more than one person is needed to create change.

In summary, the responses and the discussion by these bright 12-17-year-olds cleared my head and left me feeling inspired and hopeful about the future of Oxapampa, the future of Peru, and the future of the world!

Summer Vacation


School’s out for summer! That’s right, summer vacation started here in Peru…actually, it started right before Christmas, and it will last until March. (Very similar to summer vacation in the US, but…the southern hemisphere version.)

Aside: Actually, here in Oxapampa, it’s not super sunny and warm all the time because it’s also rainy season. So the days alternate between sunny and rainy – usually both sun and rain in one day, multiple times a day! But also some stretches of purely rainy days and purely sunny days.

IMG_20161117_103556Peru Month 1-2 406

Every summer the municipality here in Oxapampa hosts a program called Vacaciones Útiles (literally “useful vacation”) where the kids can take a class (or sometimes 2 classes) that meets every day of the week for seven weeks.  This year, they are offering:

  • Soccer (Futbol)
  • Futsal
  • Basketball (Basquet)
  • Volleyball (Voley)
  • Kung Fu (Kunfu)
  • Swimming (Natación)
  • Video Production (Audio y Video)
  • Chess (Ajedrez)
  • Arts and Crafts (Manualidades)
  • Traditional Dances (Danza)

I am crashing the class on video production and editing to teach a program on clean water and hygiene.  Yeah, it seems like an odd couple, but I think it will work out well.

What happened is that Peace Corps has developed a program of 10 lessons (called Mano a Mano) on the theme of water and hygiene, but with lessons about self-esteem and values thrown in, with the idea of developing community leaders who can share what they learn with their families and friends. (I’m super impressed with the training and materials we received from Peace Corps Peru!)

With only a few hours a week that I have available, I wanted to tag onto a class that wanted my help, and the one that seemed best was the video production class. Now I know it doesn’t seem like a natural fit at first, but the professor (who is about my age), is a really smart and creative guy, and he immediately came up with the plan that for their final video project, the kids could produce a video related to the themes that I will teach…Which, by the way, in case you’re interested the lessons will be:

  • Values (Valores)
  • Personal Development and Well-being (Elementos Fundamentales)
  • Self Esteem (Autoestima)
  • Stress Management (Manejo de Estrés)
  • Teamwork (Trabajando en Equipo)
  • Hygiene – Routes of Contamination (Rutas de Contaminación)
  • Hand-washing (Lavado de Manos)
  • Clean Water (Agua Segura)
  • Solid waste and recycling (Residuos Sólidos)
  • Giving a Speech (Oratoria)

Tomorrow is my first day of 10 classes over the course of 6 weeks…wish me luck!