Monthly Archives: May 2015

Day 87

Nica 65 is outrageous with the talent! Literally were becoming legends. Other Nica groups from all sectors say they’ve heard about us and our presentations made the why obvious. Because we’re awesome! The talent in this group is simply ridiculous. I wand my bored at all between the songs made up, the cool videos and emotional recaps. The skits and games were so creative. Afterwards we convinced our bosses to cancel afternoon classes and had a huge birthday party for one of the volunteers. She had no idea and cried. So worth it. 

After all the excitement I came home and present my mom with Mother’s Day gifts. It’s a huge event here with parades and banners. I planned to visit carozo Tom and Saturday and won’t be here to celebrate it with her. She loved them. I came out my room with two bags and my host sister (the oldest with three children) jokingly asked if one was her and I surprised her by saying si! I really wanted to get them functional and high quality stuff so my mom sent me sets of towels and sheets. I’m glad to know it’s something they’ll use in the near future. 

PCV Kate Guzman

People are so diverse here. Literally no one is what they seem. No one. Kate fits that bill. I remember walking past her talking in full on french and was shocked. Being a few weeks in learning spanish and STRUGGLING and trying to pick it up or understand it when I hear it then hearing someone else speak French was jarring. My brain was like.. wait.. 
Volunteer Profile:
Katelyn Guzman 
Age: 23
Sector: Small Biz
BS in Biology. Psychology. Chemistry. (3 Separate degrees)
From:Boise Idaho 
Fun fact: I tried out for American idol. 
Why did you join the PC?
I’ve always wanted to help people. I started a nonprofit when I was ten. Seeing its impact really affected my decision to take my service abroad. I really wanted to travel and I figured this would be the best way to do it and get work experience. 

Is this your 1st time out of the US?
No. I have been to Ecuador to help with an orphanage and Mexico to visit family and vacation. But I want to go everywhere. 

Do you speak any other language?
Yes. I speak French fluently. I think it’s easier learning Spanish, knowing French. But I also grew up hearing a lot of Spanish because I’m Mexican. So it helped having heard the words before. My parents don’t speak Spanish so I never actually learned. 

What was your family’s reaction when you told them you were joining?
I have been telling them for like six years I was going to join. So they weren’t surprised. Some weren’t as supportive at first but once they were sure I wasn’t doing this on a whim, they were super supportive and awesome. 

How are you liking Nicaragua? 
I love Nicaragua! I think it’s a lot different than I was expecting. I was expecting mud huts and like no internet, just really underdeveloped. I have been absolutely pleasantly surprised. The people are super hospitable. In general, it’s a super nice culture. 

What had been your top 5 best moments so far here?
1. Learning how to salsa and bachata 2. Going to Nica karaoke (it was freaking amazing with people dancing on tables!) 3. Eating and drinking with other PCVs 4. Celebrating my chikungunya recovery with an entire pizza 5. Getting to know my training town. Just walking down the street and having everyone know who I am and why I’m here. I feel so popular. 

How is it dating a Nicaraguan man? Is there a comparison to dating a man from the states?
I wouldn’t know, this is my first real boyfriend. Umm I would say it’s an adventure. I’ve had to get used to a lot of cultural differences and nonverbal communication styles. For instance, the nose scrunch. At first, I had no idea what he was doing. I would be talking and he would scrunch his nose. I was concerned I smelled but now I know it means he doesn’t understand what I’m saying. Also the lip pointing. He would ask me how I was doing and then to clarify he would point his lips at me. I can’t always understand what he’s saying and meeting his family was really stressful for that reason. It has gotten a lot better and I feel like I’ve interacted so much better because of that. They’re also very touchy in general and we had to talk about that. 

Do you have any concerns for living here? 
I think it varies day by day. I’m really excited to be here but then to look forward and get really anxious knowing its two years of my life. I feel really great about everything. 

What are you looking forward to in the next two years?
I’m really excited to find my niche in my community and make a really good group of Nica friends. And learn how to dance! 

What are your plans after PC?
Medical school and live in a tiny house. Have you seen them? It’s going to be so cozy and save the world and cheap!

How do you feel about training in business sector when your work experience is better suited to health?
At first, I was kinda disappointed but then I visited my site and realized how many opportunities I’d have to integrate my health knowledge into my work. So now I’m ok with it… más o menos.

Did you believe in Santa as a kid? Do you still believe in Santa? 
Believed as a kid? Umm yes. Hell yes. I freaking love Christmas and I start celebrating like in July. I believe in spirited Santa. Like the spirit of giving. My little brother is 7 and he believes right now too. So I always encourage it. 

What do you wish when you blow out your candles on your birthday cake?
Hmmm. I always wish I could fly even though I know that’s not going happen. 

What is one thing you wish you had from the US here?
Body pillow without a doubt! 

Day 86

Yesterday we went to the schools we worked to personally thank the directors and principals. We also wrote a letter Spanish to keep on file. Today we took our security exam and processed all our site info. Tomorrow we’re going to do ready to service presentations and I’m a little jaded.  There 15 mins each. I hope everyone does something really creative. I also received a huge box from my mom. It’s mostly filled with gifts for my Nica mom. Deshell finally joined me in the Box Club. We celebrated. ☺️

Site Visit

Day 78
Counterpart day. This is the day I would usually get to meet some or all of the people I’ll be working with but because of miscommunication and the national celebration of sandino the day was moved and hardly anyone showed.  Which works for me because I’m starting to feel sick. I spent about three hours in the medical office and she let me sleep! God bless that sick bed I needed some rest. I wanted to stay longer but my boss told the nurse I had to come back. I left with a bag full of meds. I have to take 7 things daily for the next two weeks.  We had presentations for the rest of the day clarifying counterpart and PCVs relationships then we were free to relax. Relax we did. I ended up not going to bed until 2 am because of a random impromptu yoga session. Two PCVs were sore and I insisted yoga was the answer. I was right. Looking forward to traveling tomorrow. My day started at 5:45am.. Who needs sleep right?

Day 79
I feel worse. I wish I was staying in Managua. I don’t want to go anywhere. I woke with no problems but my ear nose and throat hate me right now. I was told total travel one way is 4.5 hours. So I set off on the bus at 6:45 am. At 9 I got off at a gas station because the man said it was the last stop. It took me about 15 minutes to realize I was not at a bus terminal and it was unbearable hot. The trees of niquinohomo clearly don’t exist here. I waited about 45 minutes for another bus with my towns name on it. Hopped on and prayed to God no one would steal my luggage from underneath the bus. The very cute bus man insisted he wouldn’t allow that to happen. I finally pulled up a little before noon and my sitemate was waiting for me. I literally live right across the street from her. She introduced me to my family. My moms name is Josefa and my dads name is Jesus. I met my sister and two brothers. I like them a lot! They have me a book to read outloud to help with my pronunciation while they did homework. One is going to college, the other is in 10th grade. I’m not sure what the oldest does. I only met him briefly. We have two rabbits named brownie and sugar, the English words, not the translation. We have three parrots. I got to hold one on my finger! And the best part NO ROOSTERS!! That’s right we don’t have a one. I was so happy about that. Literally God has smiled on me. My room is big, way bigger than my old room but it doesnt have any furniture except my bed so I’ll be using my readjustment stipend for that, or tap into the PCVs that are about to leave. 

Day 80 
I feel like I’m about to die. I’m so sick I’m debating going to Managua to be looked at instead of staying to enjoy my site. The doctor ore called my sitemate and told her to get me a specific type of medicine. I only left my bed to go to the bathroom and eat. Fingers crossed the meds work. My mom called me from the states and couldn’t understand a word I was saying. I sound like a chain smoker met a nasal relief commercial. 

Day 81 
Sweet relief.  I’m not even close to 100% but the hardest part is behind me. I CAN BREATHE!! Today I will meet the nearest small biz volunteer. He lives about an hour and a half away. He’s coming to my school to give a charla to all my counterparts. What are the odds?! #blessed I met all five of my counterparts. My favorite so far is Gioconda. I just love saying her name. He-own-con-duh. Since I didn’t meet them on counterpart day I exchanged my Nica resume and got their class schedules.  They seem nervous about my abilities. Thank goodness I’m not. Afterwards I was exhausted so back to bed I went. Today was a very productive day though. 

Day 82 
I’m still resting but my sitemate just told me she’s having a book club with youth tonight. Literally nothing but death could keep me away. They’re reading I Am Mataglpa. Story of a young woman who was shot in the head by the Taliban. They were asking questions and during the discussion it became clear they didn’t know what the Holocaust was. I explained it and who Anna Frank was .. All in Spanish. You can’t tell me nothing about my Spanish today. Not one word because I’m on fire today. It’s definitely something I’m going to continue when she leaves I promise! 

Day 82 
Time to go. It’s truly been lovely but I shall return in two weeks.. If all goes well. My family sent me off well and I felt quite productive once I confirmed how much my rent was, how much to have my clothes washed and my furniture situation. Thankfully my site mate is traveling with me a little ways and then I met another volunteer in Managua. We talked in Spanish the whole time. Another Spanish win! I’m glad to be back home. Although my room is so much smaller there is wifi and my mom can really cook! Sigh.. I’m going to miss it here.

Day 76

I woke up quite fluffy. Between the sweat and occasional beer being thrown yesterday my hair looked like it was week in instead of a day.  Today a group of volunteers are going to a Laguna. It’s made from an extinct volcano crater, so instead of a white beach it has black sand. Apparently, it’s quite healthy for you as well. The water felt amazing, it was really warm and then there’s a large drop off where it becomes quite refreshing. Since my hair suffered minor damages from yesterday, I decided to keep the swimming to a minimum. I didn’t sunk my head or actually swim, I just lounged in the water and allowed the bottom to get wet. Too bad that didn’t account for much because we got caught in a serious rainstorm. A Nica was kind enough to loan me his shirt because I didn’t have a shirt or a towel. (This sounds like a stupid mistake but it was intentional. With the sun, I dried out immediately. No need for additional things like a towel and I didn’t know the heavens planned to open up!) Even with me getting soaked through, I had a blast!

Day 75

Final community event!  It’s a Spanish movie day… but as usual, poor promotion led to no attendees. Either way I was glad we didn’t have more technical difficulties. Today while braiding my hair, Deshell found a gray strand of hair. Literally one strand in the back of my head. It was long enough for me to see. It’s so hilarious to me considering my dad had his first gray hair at 10 I didn’t think I would make it this long.  Even with a head full of gray I doubt anyone will think I am more than 25. My face is just too young… not that I am complaining. I spent in total about 5 hours on my hair and I am very proud of the finished results. As much as I love my fro, the daily maintenance and upkeep would be entirely too much. If I wasn’t sure, yesterday’s events of washing and bucket showers made it very clear to me. I can either shave my whole head or wear protective styles. Considering I want to donate my hair to Locs of Love after I finish peace corps, I went with protect style option. 
After hair, D and I Disney’d out. It was nice to relax and in a way I was stalling to go home because I knew it would be another hair circus. Just my luck, I got a text about going to Catarina for a block party being hosted by a radio station. Although I was a little tired, I thought.. you only live once. So I ate dinner, quickly showered and went out again with other volunteers. It was so much fun! It reminded me of the old days when people used to have block parties in my neighborhood. There were flashing lights, and they were giving out hair gel! I am starting to recognize songs here and actually had a good time dancing. Volunteers from multiple towns came and we all danced right in the front of the stage. 

PCV Alex Iseri

I didn’t actually meet Alex until we were in Managua. I saw him but it was 40 of us, it’s hard to have lasting impressions. Despite that, I remember when he first got a haircut. He instantly went from like hippie, going with the flow to business and ready for action. I began to wonder why he was here. I could totally see him in a suit and tie and in my personal opinion he was giving me fish out of water vibes. He is very laid back and can find laughter in any situation. He’s great to have around when you’re stuck waiting for the Masatepe volunteers to arrive late ..again. Although, I didn’t think so at first, I can totally see why ALex is here! I am glad he is my friend and I know for a fact I am not the only volunteer that feels that way. Peeps and peepettes… Alex.
Alex Iseri
Age: 26 
Sector: Small Biz
From Traverse City, Michigan 
BA Political Science, Beloit College MA International Development, Western Michigan University 
Fun Fact: I don’t have many fun facts, but an interesting fact is that I’m a very experienced tractor driver 
Why did you join the PC? 
I didn’t really decide that I wanted to join the Peace Corps until my senior year of college- I had been pursuing a political science degree for four years at that point, but did not realize until my final semester that my capacity to serve as an elected official or bureaucrat was limited. That being said, I was still very passionate about public service. Prior to attending college I had lived much of my life outside the United States and was very interested in exploring new cultures and countries- Peace Corps provided me an opportunity to combine those interests. Four years and one degree later, here I am! Living the dream. 

What were you doing before PC? Does it relate to what you’re doing now? 
Immediately before I shipped out I was unemployed and was not doing much of anything, but before that I was pursuing a Master’s Degree in International development. Of course, working with Peace Corps is a perfect follow up to that program, especially as it relates to the role of capital development in growing economies.

Did you have an expectations abut Nica? Is Nica living up to those expectations (if you had any)
I had tried very hard to avoid building up expectations for Nicaragua, since it seemed like I would only be setting myself up to be disappointed (insofar as it would be difficult to form any specific vision, no matter how modest, that would be representative of the country as a whole). All I wanted to do was learn the language, meet cool people, and experience a new culture, and thus far this experience has exceeded those expectations. 

Is this your first time out of country? if now where have you been? 
My first time out of the country was in 1996, when I moved to India with my family. Since then I have lived in one other country (Indonesia) and have had the opportunity to travel to countries throughout Asia (Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Nepal, Singapore), Europe (Germany, England, Holland), the Middle East (Oman, the U.A.E.), and South America (Colombia).

What’s one thing that surprised you about Nica?
I didn’t come with many expectations, but I was definitely not prepared for how beautiful Nicaragua is- trees, beaches, volcanoes, lagunas, all of it is amazing. 

So far, favorite memory of NIca? 
That’s a difficult question, in just two months I’ve already made a lot of fantastic memories. One of the best would be climbing the Volcan de Masaya with a group of volunteers. Brutal walk, but well worth it. (See photo above.)

Now that you know where your site can you tell me what your first thoughts were/are? 
Excitement! I’m sorry to be so far away from so many of the friends that I’ve made during training but working in Nueva Guinea will be a great opportunity- the service there fits my priorities like a glove, and I’m excited to start exploring jungle. 

if you have to, do you think you can live without the internet? 
Haha eventually! I love the internet, but I can learn to do without almost anything given enough time. 

You can only listen to 3 CD’s for the rest of your life, what are they? 
My Dark Twisted Fantasy (Kanye) Demon Days (Gorillaz) The Wall (Pink Floyd) 

When your envision yourself after these 2 years are finished what do you see? (describe yourself or use a few descriptive words)
Well you can’t really see these things, but I hope to be more resourceful, more resilient, and more adaptive.

Day 74

Today is the big day: the competition day.  I can honestly say I have not been thinking about winning.  It goes completely against my nature but I know with a language barrier, I should just hope for my absolute best. The kids do not seem too pressed about winning either so the primary focus has just been learning and being prepared!  I am so proud of my kids because they know their stuff.  My boss said the most important thing is to make sure they know the information, not necessarily who wins. So that has been my focus.  Most of these children are also in the class I teach so I know they understand the material and are confident they could become little awesome entrepreneurs one day.  We arrived at the competition and despite not receiving any funds my group wrangled all they could and bought a pack of 50 cups.  The hotel not providing coffee worked in our favor; we sold out of our drink.  My teens were so happy and content that people wanted to come back for seconds. It was so good they been invited to another Peace Corps event to sell their drink!  I must admit we were sure another group would win because of their success and the volunteers with advanced language levels. We did not think we would win first place but we knew we were strong contenders.  I knew our product was great, our logo was unique, and our business plan was legit.  The only thing I was unsure of was our presentation because I thought we needed a little more practice.  My youth were so nervous and we had only run through the entire thing twice, both times with a few slipups.  
When we sat for the judges verdict we congratulated each other on a job well done, sure we would not be called.  In third place, Nacilletas, a gluten free cookie.  One of the youth in the group came up with the idea because her sister has Celiac and her food cost four times as much as normal Nica food.  In second place, Tawni Teen. Which was a group that made jewelry from old clothing.  Now here, my heart started beating fast because everyone thought Tawni Teen would win first place.  Even they thought they would win first place.  Suddenly it dawned on me; we could win, because our product and presentation was good.  My group was 4Yolo. Our product was a frappacino type of drink. Then drumroll and my ears deceived me.  They called our products name.  I screamed but then looked around for clarification that I was not dreaming. Other people were congratulating us and patting us on the back. Our youth were just as surprised and walked up to the front like deer in headlights.  They won book packs full of school supplies and money to continue their business.  I could not be more proud of them and their positive attitudes.  Without thinking about winning, they did their absolute best that is what counts. 
Right after we hung out in the pool and it was an absolute godsend. It was what I needed and swimming relieved all the tension in my body. I did yoga underwater and it made it easier to do the moves without tension.  I think I will make pool moves a regular addition to my yoga work.  On top of that we celebrated John’s (another volunteer) birthday. He turned 70!! Since we’re such a talented group we celebrated best way we could. Several PCVS got together and danced like locals. It was beautiful. One volunteer rapped, 2 sang while the other played the guitar and another volunteer recited Shakespeare .. it was amazing. John spoke and told us what he’s learned after 70 years on this earth and ended with a few tears. Our PCV family is better with him as our father figure. On the bus back home, we sang songs at the top of our lungs as if we were on our way home from a camping trip. I recorded some of our song conquests. The memories I am making have been epic so far.  As soon and I do mean as soon as I got home, I began taking out my braids. The sad truth is between the dirt here, my sweat, and the new growth; my hair could not go on another day.  I was looking like a hot mess to put it nicely. My hair became a cultural learning lesson as my family thought I was cutting off my hair, even though I told them the braids had hair that was not mine.  Then when they saw my hair, they said it was pretty and I should leave it out.  So I had to explain how a fro is a lot like a sponge, holding anything that touches it, dirt, sweat, cigarette smoke and a hassle to maintain. It is healthier and better protected in a style like braids or twists.  Then my mom said well you can just put it in a ponytail, she does not understand that it is fluffy, not straight enough to be controlled by a ponytail holder.  Then she said well just straightened it.  I then explained any amount of moisture in the air, sweat on my head or rain will cause my hair to revert faster than you can say “bad hair day.”  Never has my Spanish been tested more, than last night. I still do not think my mom understood it all, but that is ok.  I know she understood me when I said, I am leaving with a fro and I will return with a new hairstyle.  That much was clear. With the help of my volunteer friend and my mom sending hair in a package (again, THANKS MOM!)  I will be looking like a new woman tonight. 

Day 73

Today is a hard day, full of goodbyes, teaching and practicing with our youth for the competition. I have to admit, I am really emotionally drained.  I am so tired of goodbyes.  I did not think it would be this hard but the goodbyes just keep coming!  This was my last week of teaching my youth and MY CLASS GOT CANCELED!  So I told my professor that I needed to come back to take a picture with my students.  They are too cute.  They were so excited to get out of the class for photos.  Then I had to say goodbye to my counterparts, and earlier I had to say goodbye to two-volunteers. My poor heart could not take it.  I know in two weeks I will have to say goodbye to my family!  My mom is such a sweetheart. The end of these two years is going to break me.  My eyes literally hurt from tears I refuse to shed.  We practiced with our youth for two hours and although I know they know the material I am not, sure they understand we do not have to present our entire business plan, just an overview. Still, I am confident they will do well.  I can’t say that we will win, but we’re definitely top 3. 

18 Truths Review

18 truths by Jamie Ayrers was an interesting read. I WAS enjoying it. 17 year old Olga is in love with her best friend Conner but too afraid to tell him. It’s the typical story, Conner is beautiful in a typical jock, popular and cheerleaders love him kind of way. Olga has long red hair, the ultimate nerd, and is not recreatonally coordinated. Still they have been best friends for 13 years and she is too afraid to risk that friendship over her heart. The last day of summer they go sailing (their favorite hobby) and he dies after being struck by lighting and hypothermia. racked with guilt Olga cannot go on. She unintentionally attempts suicide by downing an entire bottle of pain medicine. In her haze of depression she meets Nate who is seeing the same therapist as Olga. As you can imagine they fall in love but Olga is so afraid of falling again she pushes him away. still, love prevails AND THEN THE BOOK DOES A CRAZY FLIP OF THE SCRIPT! The plot thickens and I was devastated! I was furious by the ending. I turned the page like…
….and if there was no sneak peek from the second book I would have rated this book 2 stars! However, after seeing into the 2nd book I rate it 4 stars. I must applaud her savviness as well because she got me to buy the second book. It was a good read and reminiscent of High School hierarchies and prom folly. Go read it.