Kathryn's Peace Corps Adventure

The opinions expressed and experiences described in this blog are mine personally. Any musings that you read here are not affiliated or endorsed by Peace Corps or U.S. government. Or Starbucks. And I'm not making any money from any of this, so don't send a lawsuit my way. Got it?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

turkey day

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I won the PC lottery and was allowed to have dinner at the embassador's house. It was really good food (but no mashed potatoes) and super nice. It was a very formal style dinner with a carving turkey and a serving turkey. I am so full now that I may burst. But it will probably be one of the few times when I will have a really good U.S. style meal in Honduras.

But this message is to let everyone know that I'm thinking of you guys and hope you have a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Books that I would love to have sent to me:
-Old Spanish workbooks from high school or college
-Spanish novels, especially Garcia Marquez (in Spanish, to clarify)
-Any Baseball skills/fundamentals training guides
-Anything Calvin and Hobbes (the comic books not the philospohers)



There are times when I tell jokes and I don´t even think about other people´s feelings or I am just too cynical for some people.

Yesterday Sam asks our teacher, "What´s the word for single guy?"
Carlos replies, "Soltero. And then there´s a word for a guy who´s married."
I say, "Si. Victimo" (Victim) AS A JOKE.
Carlos laughs, says how married life is good and that everyone should get married because your spouse will make catcalls at you all day. (So adorable!)

Cool right?

I get home from class and get a phone call from Sam.
Sam, "Kathryn, I want to talk about the situation in class today. How do you feel about Sam´s presence in class?" (And yes, he referred to himself in the 3rd person.)
K, "I don´t know what you´re talking about."
Sam, "Why did you call me a victim in class today? Were you making fun of me?"
K, "What? No. I was just telling a joke. I was just teasing about marriage." Then I explain the situation from my point of view.
Sam, "Well, I thought you were making fun of me and that´s why I was in a bad mood during class this afternoon." (Yeah you were! He was slamming books, sighing loudly in class, and acting impatient when I was talking.)
K, "I´m really sorry about the misunderstanding. I´ll try to watch my mouth from now on."
Sam, "Well, I have to go." And then hangs up!

Should I feel guilty for making a joke? Should I be the one to walk on eggshells in class for him? I know that I should be more aware of other people´s feelings but at the same time, should I be babying Sam? Because other people in site are going to make jokes and say things, and if he takes them the wrong way, he´s going to be really frustrated for 2 years.

Plus, he didn´t accept my apology or apologize for being kind of a jerkface in class.

My friend in the same class says, "You shouldn´t have even apologized. He´s been babied too long and he needs to develop a thick skin. I´m so sick of things always going his way in class. You should be MORE open in class. Forget him."

That made me feel much better.

There are about 7 days left of Spanish classes.
To be continued....

Saturday, November 19, 2005

pie, pie, pie, pie, whoo!

Pie (pee-yay) is the Spanish word for foot. On our final day of our crazy Aldea project, Crystal and Delfo worked on a project together with the 6 year olds and I worked with the 10-12 year olds. It was really good. I had the kids create a personal flag representing their values and goals. They were actually pretty into it because they were proud to present their stuff. I was really happy. When I finished, I met up wiht Crystal and Delfo and the screaming, energetic 6 year olds. It was raining outside (thanks a lot, Hurricane Gamma) so we couldn´t go out and play. Don´t get me wrong, they are absolutely adorable and sweet but all they want to do is scream and climb our arms and legs. The day before we learned this song about a dancing girl and how she uses different parts of her body to dance (shoulders, head, knees, etc.) which is fun to sing and educational for them. We stand in a circle and sing and point to the body part but for the foot, we move into the circle stomping our foot and get really close to each other. Everytime we did that, all the kids would crash into each other intentionally and start punching each other. It was chaos and hilarious at the same time. There´s this one kid who we refer to as the "Peace Corps child" because of his gorgeous blue eyes and light skin that would run into the circle and really start smacking kids around. It was funny to me, so funny in fact that I couldn´t stop laughing. When I told Crystal about it we were both laughing. She and I agreed that we have reached a point in training when things no longer make sense, most of us laugh at ridiculous things, and if people from the states listened to us, they´d think we were morons.

Is this what your tax dollars are paying for?

Friday, November 18, 2005

getting clued in

We have all had another meeting with our Project Manager (PM) in which she has told us our counterparts, what our city is like, how far it is from places, and if we have a house...without actually telling us the city. She did supply us with a list of our sites so it´s just a guessing game/process of elimination.

Here´s what I know...
1. I have a baseball team! (And they are totally going to win the championship)
2. I have a health center (I´m supposed to start a Pregnant Girls Club...thank goodness my years in Catholic school have prepared me for this moment)
3. I have a high school and grammar school (teaching sports and English)
4. I am also supposed to work in different towns as a teacher trainer
5. My town is small...it´s not on a map of Honduras
6. I have a house set up for me but my PM wants me to stay with a host family for a few weeks if she can find one.
7. I am replacing a departing YD volunteer.
8. I have a brand new library that opened today and am supposed to start reading clubs for the kids since they are out of school right now.
9. I won´t have a site mate from PC.

Lots of info right? I´m almost certain that my site for the next two years is San Ramon, Lempira which is about an hour south east of Santa Rosa de Copan in the west. If anyone can find a website with info about this town, please post on my blog becasue I would like some info on where it actually is!

·This isn´t actually confirmed until November 30th when the official announcement will be made.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

how is a tarp like community development?

We went to the department of Santa Barbara Monday afternoon to attend a camp. Santa Barbara is beautiful, tree covered mountains, a beautiful river and natural hot springs with these caves that are like saunas. It is a camp mainly for kids/teens for leadership and environmental education. On Monday we went down to the river, some people swam, and we all passed through the sauna caves. It was really hot and steamy in there and just 2 minutes in there really cleared up my skin. After dinner, we had a bonfire that lasted a few hours. It was really nice and I had the chance to talk with some of the girls in our group. We went to bed around 10 pm in our cabin filled with 9 beds. Sounds OK, right? Kind of like a big sleepover...

"Dinámica" is a word that I may use a lot in the next 2 years so I´ll explain it now. A dinámica is a warm up activity or a bonding activity that is used A LOT by PC. Some of them are fun and some of them are horrible. A simple dinámica could be "give me your name and an adjective that starts with the same letter as your name" Knowldegeable Kathryn. (Yeah right!)

...we wake up around 645 Tuesday to a breakfast of beans and eggs. I know that I´ve said I can eat scrambled eggs now but not first thing in the morning--so I just ate beans and tortillas. After breakfast we started with some streches and then broke up into 2 groups to do dinámicas--we did a trust fall, one where we had to carry a tennis ball on a ring and another one where we basically threw people over a "wall" to display teamwork. It wasn´t bad but after every activity we had discussion. "How did you feel? How does it feel working as a team?" What was your role?" Then we had some races and received some environmental education. Not bad right?

Until the tarp.

It was 1105 am. Lunch is at 1130. Most of us didn´t shower in the morning because the showers were scary. We were all sweaty from running and it was hot outside. That´s when we got our final dinámica as a full group--the dinámica of doom.

14 of us stood on a 2 ft by 2 ft tarp that we were supposed to turn over to the other side without any of us stepping outside of the tarp. That´s 30 feet of various sizes on a 576 sq in surface. 14 sweaty, tired, and hungry bodies crammed together. I am not claustrophobic (spelling?) but I still enjoy my own personal space. We tried standing on one foot and balancing on each other and piggybacking by we couldn´t flip that tarp.

1123 am. Only a few are on the tarp trying to figure it out. Everyone else (myself included) were on the outside waiting for lunch. We could not figure out a solution. Crabbiness was visible among most.

1135 am. We try again but I just feel so uncomfortable that I just stand off the tarp with Crystal. We´re both in a funk because we want to eat and don´t want to stand anymore. Our friend Brandon was sitting in a chair away from the whole scene by then. Others begin to step off the tarp too.

1140 am. The coordinatior gives us the solution. But it doesn´t work when we try it.

1145 am. Discussion.

1146 am. Our YD trainers chew us out.
-"When you think of YD-you are not just going to be playing with kids-you are not here to babysit"
-"You have to keep a positive attitude when working because it´s going to be really hard"
-"Your participation level has continued to drop throughout the day"
-"what are you going to do when you have a bad day at site? Give up?"
-"Community development is not easy. You cannot just quit the way some of you did."
-"Maybe community development is not for you if you all give up"

And it continued until 12 pm. It was like facing a firing squad and I felt hurt, sad, and angry all at once. It´s funny because I understood where they were coming from but at the same time I felt like they didn´t understand us (tired, sweaty, smelly, hungry). Crystal said at lunch, "If the dinámica had been done after lunch, it may have had different results", which could be true.

All I wanted to do was cry simply because it felt like I was letting down my parents. I really like the YD trainers and respect and value their opinions-so when they said those things I felt like 14 years old again and being punished by my parents for breaking curfew.

We left Santa Barbara after lunch in a pretty quiet car ride. When we get back to Siguat we still have Spanish class. I drop off my stuff at home, go to the local store because all I want to do is drown my sorrows in a bag (yes bag) of chocolate milk. But they´re sold out! I walked to my Spanish class in a nasty mood about being chewed out and no milk.

Surprisingly, Spanish class was wonderful. We change teachers every 2 weeks and right now our instructor is Carlos, who is funny and light hearted. During class, we just laughed about the disaster dinámica and ate cake (perfect). I have never enjoyed Spanish class like this before. It was what I needed.

However, I am still thinking about what our trainers said. Is what they said true? It gets to you sometimes.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

land that I love...

I have just come back from Wendy´s. That´s right, Wendy´s and I ate like an American pig. I had a big bacon classic, biggie fries and a biggie diet coke. And it freakin´rocked.

Is it wrong to spend 75 lempiras on something so good?

3 facilitators, 150 kids = a recipe for disaster

FBT Aldea Project Day1
Daycare Center, Siguatepeque

Delfo hosted dodgeball, Crystal taught "Hello, Goodbye" by the Beatles, and I had a mini Olympics. We tried to set it up as a round robin and the kids would switch facilitators every 45 minutes. Round 1 went pretty well. If I didn´t have an older student helping me, I´d be screwed. I had a potato sack race, three legged race, a relay race, an egg in the spoon race, and a few others...what got done? Potato sack race. It took almost 1/2 hour to explain the rules and get people into teams. (I also realized my Spanish sucks! How do you say, "Don´t unravel the potato sack with your teeth?")

Round 2? Thirty five 6 and 7 year olds. Forget it! Mini Olympics were out the door-I organized soccer instead because they had WAY too much energy to burn. I had kids grabbing my arms and attached to my legs. Round 3 fell apart simply because most kids lost interest. So much soccer. It´s amazing how many 6 year olds know the rules for soccer. Needless to say I was wiped.

Crystal was wiped too because she ended up having almost 70 kids in her class at once! Originally we told our counterpart that we could manage 30 or less...but that´s the way things work out sometimes. She was the most successful because my sister was singing "Hello, Goodbye" for me when I got home.

Delfo had the same problems I did-too many people for one event and most didn´t understand the rules of dodgeball. (I definitely could not explain them in Spanish) But Delfo, being Mr. Johnny Depp look alike had no problems when his group was mostly 14 year old girls because they would do whatever he´d say!

Our counterpart was really happy with the results the first day, even though I felt like I was going to burst into tears after all the stress and broken Spanish. She said the kids are happy and wanted to know our plans for the next day.

One thing is for sure, I am NOT playing 3 hours of soccer!

a spoiled princess

If you had a visitor in your house, would you give them your best room? Your only indoor bathroom? Would you cook for them 3 times a day? Would you wash and iron their clothes? Or clean their room and bathroom for them? Even if they paid you to stay at your place?
I know I wouldn´t! But that is my life here in Siguat. I am getting fed (way too much) and having all my clothes washed and ironed. No pila for me! Hooray! My family gets paid about $110 for the whole month for hosting me. My sister has cut my hair, done my nails, and given me a massage just because she´s wonderful.

No wonder Honduras is called Peace Corps Lite.

Friday, November 04, 2005

¡Si, todos!

For another perspective on this story, feel free to check out Crystal and Simon´s webpage (a married couple working as YD volunteers).


Part of FBT is working 4 days in an aldea organizing activities for the youth in the community. I was originally in a team of 5 but it was broken up into a team of 3 and 2. 2 people went to work with an Evangelical group and Crystal, Delfo, and I went to work for a Catholic youth group.

We were dropped off at the house of the group leader by our tech trainer and they just left us there. We looked at each other and entered her home. She greeted us and pulled out some chairs for us to sit on. We sat. We looked at her and she looked at us.

"So why are you here?", she asks.
"Well we´re here to help you with whatever you need. Youth groups, we can give charlas, we can organize a soccer game, etc.", we say.
"Well I have a youth group that meets on Saturdays and Sundays after church."
"But we´re coming here on Tues and Thurs", I say.

"Well what can you guys do here then?"
We all sit there for almost 5 minutes in silence. I´m looking at Delfo because he has a quick mind and the best Spanish and hope he comes out with an answer. At that same time, he´s looking at Crystal and me with the puzzled look on his face.

But that didn´t compare to the look on my face! I sat there and had a nervous smile on my face. Looking back, Delfo said that my face reminded him of old cartoons when a character is portrayed as a fool and their face changes into a "Sucker" or a donkey and returns to the smiling face.

A few more minutes pass. Delfo finally says, "Well we can give charlas"
"About what?" she asks.
"Anything you want. We know everything!", Delfo says. (foolishly)
Crystal chimes in, "¡Si, todos!" (Yes, everything!)

So now you have a smiling jackass and we all appear to be know-it-alls in all under 15 minutes.

According to our tech trainer, she wanted our help and asked for it, but once we were there, she had no idea what to do with us.

We stand around looking at her outdoor area. "Can you show us the town?", Delfo asks.
"It´s raining."

She makes Lenca pottery for a living and was working on various projects. Crystal picks up some pottery and says, "My sister makes pottery in the U.S." and the lady just stares at her. She begins making rosary beads for a gigantic rosary (that she is probably using now to pray for our souls). A neighbor comes by and she goes out to talk to him.

Crystal, Delfo, and I look at each other and start to freak out. "Is this what it´s supposed to be like? I´ve never felt so stupid in my life!"

She comes back after awhile and says "Let´s go to the Catholic Church." We walk to the church with her 3 legged dog that had been hit by a car twice and ran out into the road and almost got hit again! (Is this really happening?)

The church was fine and we start to walk back as it begins to rain. This poor woman is wearing a light fleece and flip flops so she was soaked by the time we get back.

She pulls out the three chairs and places them in the cage where she stores some of her pottery for sale and says, "You can wait here until your car comes". Our car isn´t coming until 3:30. "But it´s 2:40", Delfo says. "That´s fine", she says. Then she pulls out a chair and puts it in front of the cage and sits there, stares down the road and waits for the white Land Cruiser to pull up and get us out of there.

We sit in the cage and look at each other. School lets out and kids pass by the cage and look at us. Yes, COME AND SEE THE BAD GRINGOS SIT IN A POTTERY CAGE!!! They walk by slow and stare. So this is what it feels like to be in a zoo....

After awhile we finally accept her offer of coffee and she disappears for 25 mintues. But she has a neighbor sit in her chair to make sure we don´t get loose (?).

Then Crystal made the call of the day, "Watch the car pull up as she´s bringing out our coffee."

And that´s exactly what happened. Delfo was adamant about having the coffee (But so were Crystal and I). We sat, drank the coffee, ate some crackers, and continued to sit in the cage. Finally the car came back. We got into the car and once we sat down, the three of us laughed so hard we started to cry. Telling the story only made it more hilarious/embarassing.

So that´s how we were placed in a cage and made fools out of ourselves. You gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cheque leque en Siguatepeque

I only have a short time right now but I have a great story. I will leave you with this tag line. My 3 friends and I managed to make individual jackasses out of ourselves in front of a Catholic youth group leader and got placed in an 8 ft by 10 ft cage for almost 2 hours.

I miss you!