Thursday, August 20, 2009

So I’m here…Now what?

Brilliant question!

But I still I don’t really know yet. Welcome to the PC.

My plan right now is to spend a few days relaxing, getting training out of my system, setting up my room, and establishing a new daily routine. I should start visiting people, but the weather has been a bit dreary since Sunday, so people aren’t really out and about and I hate to visit peoples’ houses and track in mud.

My contact at the Muni, Nelson, is very nice, but he hasn’t been about to give me any specific information about what they want me to do exactly. He is a really busy guy. I’d like to help him as much as I can but I don’t want to end up as his secretary. From what I gather, they want me to:
• Train the Funcionarios [Muni employees] in ‘Public Relations’ by which they seem to mean helping the Muni work with and communicate to the public
• Train the Funcionarios in how to work in groups and
• Do team building exercises with the Funcionarios
• Help the Muni employee who works with comisiones vecinales [neighborhood groups]
• Work with the local health commission

As I mentioned, some of these requests aren’t particularly specific. I’ve tried to probe into the details of these requests, but thus far Nelson has been too busy to give me any answers. I’ve found this to be a common problem in Latin American in general. In politics especially, candidates offer these huge goals, on the level with solving hunger and poverty. However there is absolutely no definition of what these goals really mean or an exact plan to accomplish them.

I also plan to:
• Go to the health clinic and going with the nurses when they go to the campo do vaccinations; they know everyone and I’ll get a chance to meet the non-urban community people
• Study Guarani and Spanish every day; perhaps learning Portuguese and old German so that I can talk to those communities
• Do a community needs assessment aka walking around, talking to people, and letting them gripe to me about what needs to be done better. I compare this to what the Muni can/wants to do and help them plan it out.
• Help Carly in the schools to get to know the teachers and kids
• Exercise (finally), my poor body is melting, very sad
• Help plan a youth civic education camp for the end of summer with some other volunteers
• Cook up a storm Woohoo!! My family this afternoon was a little surprised that I didn’t intend to eat the lunch they prepared [mandioca, coquitos, and a large portion of cheesy noodles with just enough tomato to make the cheese pink, with a salty salad]. I ate with them, but I made my own food [hummus, Mexican flour tortillas, and salsa yum]. It may take a little while, but eventually they will see what I eat and realized that it is better for me to cook for myself. I don’t like to be this picky and possibly insult them, but it’s a health issues for me right now. I’ve gained a little weight so my knees are starting to hurt. If I continue to eat like them, I will gain more weight, and my knees will get worse. If they can’t appreciate that, then I’m just going to have to insult them. My knees will hurt too much to do otherwise. But I think they’ll come around since Marcia was a nurse. I also feel bad about eating their food in general because they aren’t charging me rent and it isn’t fair for me to eat for free. I’m not good at mooching.

My shopping list of things I wanted but have abstained from buying until arriving in site included:

• Towel-I’ve been using my camping towel since training began
• Mortar and pestle-to crush sesame seeds to make tahini to make hummus of course 
• Armoire- rooms generally don’t have closets
• Sheets
• Rolling pin
• Hand towels-the family here uses the same one or two for everything, so I’m not certain they are very clean and I don’t want to cross-contaminate my stuff.
• Bathroom basket
• Bath sponge
• Non-stick pot and pan
• Slip-on shoes to walk around the house
• Umbrella
• Tupperware
• Bars for my window
• Scarf-I lost my only one at the 4th of July party at the embassy.
• Internet- possibility, depending on how much access I have via the Muni computers

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