Andean Village Alumni
Monday June 20, 2005
We (the group) started the day as most others – with excited chit-chat during breakfast about the events of the day. Breakfast consisted of toasted rolls, butter, jam, and the usual assortment of hot teas/beverages. The group discussed it objectives, assignments, and goals for the day (and week) and Javier posed a few specific questions intended to provoke interaction between the volunteers and our Casta host, as we performed our task throughout the day.
Today we were all excited to teach English to the school children of Casta ant to make some real progress on the Lorena Stove project. We organized into 2 groups for these tasks, and went to the town square to met with Walter.
Tanya, Rob, and I taught 13-17 year olds for about an hour and a half. It was an immensely fulfilling experience in addition to being a whole lot of fun. The children seemed somewhat apprehensive at first, but Tanya, (the sole Spanish-speaker amongst the volunteers) did a great job drawing them out, and in no time, we were facilitating a fully interactive and exciting class. I think the children benefited from hearing English spoken amongst us at the very least… and likely also learned a few new English phrases.
After teaching, we turned our attention to the stove project. For today, our primary task was to collect the sand and soils required, and begin mixing it with donkey manure. Including several breaks throughout the afternoon, we shoveled and wheel barrowed for roughly 3-4 hours.
Tomorrow will be the start of the actual stove building stage. Javier impressed upon us the tremendous importance of these stoves to the Casta community – so I think we are all very excited/anxious to start building the stoves.
Lunch time provided a well deserved break from the stove preparation, and also offered us the stove preparation, and also afforded us the opportunity to discuss the questions Javier posed in the AM. Among the most reveling/telling of the responses from the Casta folk were those made to the question: “what would you buy for your family if money were no object?” (Paraphrased). Without exception, the responses from the towns folk were simple, modest, and particle. A response echoed by many were that they (Castans) would like to buy a home for their families. … And by the way lunch was a delicious multi – course meal. The yellow potato, avocado, chicken appetizer has probably been my favorite food so far.
Lastly, our dinner arrangement this evening was very unique. We joined the clu de Madre (club of mothers) and dined on the rice, potatoes, and peanut sauce meal they prepared. We learned about the role the CDM play in the community and then called an end to another very busy and rewarding volunteer day. --Carl Trotto
Do you feel your work project was meaningful? Yes.
Do you feel you had enough free time? Yes
Did this program change how you view your own culture, and if so, how? I truly better appreciate the convieniences we sometimes take for granted in U.S. Surprised at how isolated the San Pedro community is.
What did you like the most on the program? The fact that we became like a local in such a brief time.
Anything else you’d like to share with us? Javier is a rare find! You and we are very fortunate. He is gifted in dealing with people, both locals and volunteers. I think the San Pedro location/situation represents an exceptional volunteer opportunity because of what locals and volunteers can learn from each other, and what Globe Aware can do for the community. --Carl Trotto, Florida
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Our initial meeting of the volunteers, Jane and her 2 boys, Rob and Brett, and our coordinator, Javier, took place in Lima this morning. Everyone was very laid back and conversation came easily – I guess the fact that we are all here from different backgrounds to try and make a difference in such a foreign culture gave us plenty to talk about. We stopped in Chosica for lunch and to pick up paint and supplies for the week. From there, we continued our ascent up the windy roads of the sierra, which at times was scary as I looked out of the window of the van to see that the edge of the road was also the edge of the cliff. We passed by a group of bungee jumpers as we crossed the bridge that took us to the final part of our destination. I was surprised to see such lush terraces of crops amidst the arid and dusty rock of the mountains. There were several wild dogs running around and a few stops along the way to allow the farmers to pass their “burros”. At the end of the hour drive, we arrived at this very remote, sepia-toned village of San Pedro de Casta. We all chose to stay in the only hotel in town, and we learned that this is one of the few places here that has private bathrooms with running water – most of the homes don’t even have toilets. Though the idea of taking a shower in icy cold water was far from appealing, I reminded myself of the fact that most people, including the elderly “abuelas” of the town, have to leave their homes with 10 liter jugs in order to fill them with water from one of the few spigots found on the streets – I reminded myself that there are no shower stalls for the families here to stand and bathe in. Considering all of this, our modest accommodations, with the cold, bare floors, and seat less toilet are a luxury.
This morning we had breakfast and headed out to the village cheese factory. The “governor”, a humbly dressed man, spoke eloquently about the desires of the community to improve the quality of life in the and to develop a profitable business that would support all who lives here. As he showed us the many different kinds of cheese that they are capable of producing here, from the typical Andean cheese to Swiss, mozzarella, and camembert – we were all impressed with his keen business sense. After showing us the original working factory, a small rustic structure with wooden racks that shelved the cheese, we walked over to the new building, a larger, partially finished space with tiled walls and a more hygienic production area. The governor spoke of their dreams to expand the factory into a wine and cheese shop, complete with out door tables overlooking the agricultural terraces of the mountain side.
From there, we had a quick snack at Dona Aorindas restraint, a simple room with a very short doorway and 2 café tables outside. We were introduced to Senora Ydelicia, the mayor of San Pedro – a young woman, casually dressed and wearing the typical straw hat the ladies wear. She reminded us of our first task at hand – painting some of the houses in order to make the village more attractive to the many visitors that they are anticipating for an upcoming festival.
While a few of the “castenos” mixed the powder and water primer in the street, all of us, alongside the mayor, and a few locals, divided into groups and painted. More members of the community, including children, joined in as the day went on, and by sunset, we had primed about ten houses. I think we all felt fulfilled by what we had accomplished.
We had dinner at the other restraint in the main square, and when we got back to the hotel, we were told to hang out for a few minutes because the mayor was
coming. And to my surprise, Javier, along with several men and women from the community center, walked in with a birthday cake for me – apparently the volunteers were also in on the surprise. I am so grateful that these people, who hardly even know me were so kind to celebrate my special day, and if the feelings that I have today are indicative of what’s to come on my 38th year, then I am in for a beautiful trip… --Tanya Villanueva
Do you feel your work project was meaningful? Yes, to hear students practice English of school made it worthwile.
Did this program change how you view your own culture, and if so, how? We are very blessed.
What did you like the most on the program? Teaching English, connecting with the kids.
Anything else you’d like to share with us? We were very blessed to have this experience led by Javier – he was very personable, has found his place in the community here, and he made this experience a lot of fun. --Tanya Villanueva
Tell us your thoughts about the accommodation and anything you’d like to change. Wonderful host! Nice accommodations.
Describe any surprises you learned about the culture you visited (I.e. can’t believe how much kids understand even when I don’t sign) How hard working they are.
What did you like the most on the program? visiting the school.
Anything else you’d like to share with us? Lovley, lovely time! Couldn’t have been better. Javier is a great, bright, and accomidating coordinator – just great! --Anonymous
Tell us your thoughts about the accommodation and anything you’d like to change. I felt safe.
Describe any surprises you learned about the culture you visited (I.e. can’t believe how much kids understand even when I don’t sign) The efforts of locals to learn English and their efforts to make sure that I felt welcomed.
What did you like the most on the program? The people and the location.
Anything else you’d like to share with us? Javier has built a strong rapport with the community leaders and locals. He was excellent at translating information. He was always well organized and I felt safe during the entire experience. --Anonymous
Tell us your thoughts about the accommodation and anything you’d like to change. The accomodations were great.
Describe any surprises you learned about the culture you visited (I.e. can’t believe how much kids understand even when I don’t sign) How nice the people are and how much the old ladies can carry.
What did you like the most on the program? The hotel that we stayed at.
What did you like the least? I liked everything.
Anything else you’d like to share with us? The hotel was really nice and the people running it were really friendly. --Alex Roots, 14 years
Tell us your thoughts about the accommodation and anything you’d like to change. They were great.
Did this program change how you view your own culture, and if so, what did you like the most on the program? The stoves.
Anything else you’d like to share with us? Our guide was great, he had lots of energy and he spoke both languages fluently. --Anonymous
Do you feel your work project was meaningful? Yes
Do you feel you had enough free time? Yes
Did you like the food and did you get enough? Yes
Tell us your thoughts about the accommodation and anything you’d like to change. It was great with Oscar and Carmen and the little girl.
Did this program change how you view your own culture, and if so, how? I am very lucky, even though it is great here. --Hannah Roots, California (9years)
What did you like the most on the program? Helping people.
Anything else you'd like to share with us? The volunteer coordinator was excellent! For his first time he did such a great job. He made the experience so much more enjoyable. --Anonymous
Did this program change how you view your own culture, and if so, how? Yes we are wasteful.
What did you like the most on the program? Visiting school, watching people, seeing how they live.
Did you find the orientation materials meaningful and helpful? Yes very much.
Any project ideas you feel we should explore beginning on this
Anything else you’d like to share with us? Great time. Great to see how people live here, will think twice (maybe) before I buy another expensive dinner- could do a lot in San Pedro with that money. Coordinator was very helpful. Thanks for the experience. --Trevor Roots, California