The day has finally arrived. The Peru 30 cohort swore in as official volunteers. After some trainees returning home, 20 community health volunteers remain along with 23 youth development volunteers.
The ceremony was short and sweet. The ambassador from the U.S., the PC country director, and the training manager all shared words. After short speeches, the program directors from CD and YD proudly announced the names of the brand new volunteers. Each was presented with a certificate and given a few handshakes. After the ceremony we shared gaseosas (soda) and bocadillos (snacks). Later in the evening the volunteers put on a talent show for the host parents. There was singing, salsa dancing, zumba, hoola-hooping and poetry. In general it was a really good day; full of lots of love and pride. To finish this post I am going to share some photos that were taken when we became volunteers. In each are special people.
In this photo is my host mother Gloria, host father Roger and my baby sister Shirel (aka la muñeca). For the past 3 months these two have treated me like a son. They were patient with my broken Spanish, stayed up late when I was sick and made me laugh harder than some of my friends can in English. They cared so deeply that there wasn’t a single day where I didn’t feel like part of the family. Gloria and Roger are some of the hardest working people I know. They rise before the sun every day and stay up late making sure every little thing was accomplished that day. Their commitment to their family and to making a better life for themselves inspires me. To them I am grateful for: patience, love and trustworthiness.
Here you see two of my host brothers Reynaldo (7) and Marcos (12). This photo was taken on our last morning together before they went to school and before I went to swear in. I by far was closest with these two. From day one they treated me like a brother. I remember vividly arriving on my first day to them screaming from the patio “hermano!” Each night after that they greeted me the same, sometimes even running down the street to meet me halfway. We ate popcorn, candy and watched The Simpsons in Spanish. I played more games of Uno in 3 months with these two munchkins than I have in my entire life. They also taught me how to play marbles, jacks and trompo. To my brothers I am grateful for: playfulness, honesty and naiveté.
This lady here is Elizabeth Burger (aka EZ Burgs). Our friendship began during Staging in Miami. From day one we bonded over Colorado, coffee, poetry and similar senses of humor; mostly brutal sarcasm. Our relationship quickly grew into one of older sister and younger brother. I looked up to her and she called me out when I was being annoying. EZ is a powerhouse in our group. She is a great teacher and facilitates classrooms/ groups of people with ease; she demands your attention and keeps it until she is done. She is committed to her family, friends and her work as a health volunteer. Because I this I know she will be a great volunteer. To her I am grateful for: laughter, commitment and humor.
The man I am hugging in this photo is our Youth Development Program Director Jorge Delgado. In the background you see the US ambassador of Peru on the left and the Peace Corps Country Director Parmer Heacox on the right. This photo was taken just after swearing in and receiving my certificate as a YD volunteer. I am hugging Jorge because, well, he hugged everyone. But I am hugging him because he also deserves a hug. I am very lucky to have been trained by Jorge. He is the perfect mix of organized professional and loving father. He is skilled in what he does, answers every question with care (even dumb ones) and leads with his heart first. Every time we had sessions with him we were happy because we knew we were about to receive important information in an entertaining and inclusive manner. He is 100% committed to the YD program and to his country. I look forward to seeing how our work relationship grows over the course of my service. To Jorge I am grateful for: professionalism, organization and leadership.
The two in this photo are last but certainly not least. This is Lesia (aka Danny-Loo) and Braden (aka Brady Boy or Doble B). Like EZ, we started to become friends during staging. Braden was my roommate and Lesia ordered our first Uber ride to South Beach; Elizabeth was also in this carpool. On the way there we bonded over similar world views, attitudes, and once again, style of humor. We quickly became friends, spending almost everyday day together at the training center. We ate popcorn, doodled during training sessions, ate lunch together on the couches and went for walks to the park when we needed to escape. We adventured to Lima, created memories in Chosica and explored Chaclacayo. Unfortunately, none of us were placed in the same department, but maybe that’s for the better. Our friendship will continue to grow long distance and when we reunite for trainings or vacation, it will be just like old times. To Braden and Lesia I am grateful for: friendship, independence and spontaneity.