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?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

desks on the grass!

So passed my one year site visit. It was interesting for sure. My project manager, Sandra, and I met with the director and sub-director of the colegio and the two teachers that I work with at the grade school.

It was a LONG meeting mainly because it came back to the same thing—the library and the fact that is not where it should be. Here is a sampling of the conversation:

Sandra: “Why isn’t the library in its’ proper place?”
Director: “Well, we need space….we have to be somewhere otherwise our desks would be out on the grass and we have these brand new desks from PLAN” (a NGO in Honduras that works in development)
Sandra: “Well, if you wanted a teacher’s lounge, you should have requested a building that would be used as a teacher’s lounge rather than asking for a library because what you’re doing is not right.”
Director: “But we don’t have a place for the teachers right now because we have more students. Our desks would be out on the grass if we weren’t in here!”
Sandra: “You should have thought of that ahead of time before you signed papers requesting a library.”
Director: “Do you want our desks to be out on the grass? These new desks? Out there?!” (motions to the outside for emphasis)
Sandra: But do you see the problem here? You asked for a library and you’re using it for something else.”
Director: “The library works where it’s at, doesn’t it?”

It went on like that for about 10 minutes. Sickening. (Naturally, I couldn’t stop saying ‘desks on the grass’ for the rest of the afternoon when I was spending the afternoon in San Marcos with my friends Connie and Desi.) I think the director is a good person but as a director, he is horrible and corrupt. When we left the colegio, I just felt less motivated to work there because of the acceptance of the way things are and the fact that they feel as though nothing is wrong…but I’ll stick it out a little longer and if it doesn’t work out…well, I’ll cross that bridge when (or if) I get to it.

After that meeting, the 5th grade teacher apologized to me. “I am so sorry that that meeting went so poorly. Please don’t think we feel this way about you. We know what they’re doing is incorrect.”

Sandra then visited my 5th grade English class and they were absolutely perfect. She asked they questions in English, played hangman and another game that I can’t explain because we don’t have it in the U.S. They were enthusiastic and lovely. (especially my doll face Brayan). They were crazy about her and they said really sweet things about me. (“Cati is friendly, she is fun, she is intelligent…”) It was the perfect way to end the day.

Positive news was that my 5th graders appeared to be very interested in learning baseball. They are the perfect age and I’ve hit my head against the wall for not thinking about it earlier…but then again, the colegio during the meeting claimed the baseball equipment (and yes, it is just so useful sitting in a locked cabinet)…if they get their dirty claws off the equipment, it should be good times.

Sandra was positive and really relaxed considering the situation at the colegio. What makes me sad is that we are both unsure if the situation will change in the next year.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


My one year visit is coming this week from my project manager and I am nervous. I am nervous because so many of the problems at the colegio have yet to be resolved. The library has yet to move to its’ original building, the director doesn’t want anyone checking out books, the computers have been put back in their boxes and my baseball team is not practicing enough, nor have I recruited any girls to play on the team.

I’ve spent the first half of this week writing out my one year report in English and Spanish trying to prove to PC Washington, my project manager, my counterparts, myself that I’ve done something useful in the 11 months that I’ve been in San Ramón. Writing out the report was a flashback to college when I would put off my Spanish papers to the absolute last minute (3 am the night/morning it was due). My stomach felt the same kind of dread and I chose to play spider solitare instead of writing the report.

My biggest fear is that the director of the colegio will blame my failures with the colegio on me. I know that many of the problems are partially due to my passiveness and shyness because I didn’t (or don’t) have the language skills to talk about these things, but I am not willing to take full blame for the situation in San Ramón. My second fear is that my project manager will tell me to move out of San Ramón because there is work in Santa Rosa de Copán if I want it.

Now I know I’ve written about the craziness of los locos and how at times I want throw myself into my burning pile of trash to escape their insane pranks, but I have a life here now; I have connections here, I have friends here and the idea of starting over with a year left isn’t appealing as it once was. It makes sense why Peace Corps is a two year commitment because a year has almost passed and I am just beginning to feel like I have enough trust with my other counterparts, with people in San Ramón to be able to work on projects without fear of failure. It’s an insane amount of time when you think about it in the long term, especially when you hear news about friends back home getting married or moving into a new tax bracket and you begin to wonder…are the two years I am delaying my life really worth it? Should I see it as a delay or as a time for personal growth?

The positive news though is that the grade school seems to like me. They know about my situation at the colegio (though I told none of them about it—you have to love gossipy kids at times) and really want me to work with them, which is great. They want me to ask the director to let them use the computers that were used in the library…which I will talk to my project manager about when she comes to visit. I think it’s a great idea but the director of the colegio is pretty territorial, which he has a right to be except that it’s not being used, so why should it matter?

I do enjoy the colegio. I really like the students and I get along really well with most of the teachers and it saddens me that I may not see them as much if I move my work to the grade school. It’s not that different from the U.S. when you think about how one boss can ruin your job regardless of how well you get along with your co-workers, clients, customers (Starbucks comes to mind here…)
I have to believe that everything works out in the end. It’s just difficult when I have to prove myself to someone because that’s when I feel useless, though it’s hardly the case when I think about my crazy boys.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


I’ve been my best to be a good girl and stay in San Ramon…but along came Halloween. Some of the volunteers in Copan Ruinas (about 3 hours by bus) organized a full weekend of fun for Halloween. The costume party was Saturday night and I have to say that I saw some really great costumes…considering we’re in Honduras, where the holiday is not celebrated (well, minus ex-pats and fresas) people really showed their creative streak.

Here is a short list of costumes:
-Britney Spears and Kevin Federline
-A bottle of Coca-Cola
-Steve Irwin, complete with stuffed crocodile
-J-Lo in the famous Versace dress
-A pila
-Campesina woman, smoking and breastfeeding child
-Napoleon Dynamite, complete with Vote for Pedro t-shirt
-Heidi from Tool Time, from Home Improvement
-Luke Skywalker
-A guy wearing a helmet with tampons and pantyliners all over his shirt (menstrual cyclist)
-Flava Flav with clock around neck

I was unoriginal and was a cat…though later on in the evening I was telling people that I was Hobbes (thank you Crystal) or quoting “Wedding Crashers”, “call me kitty cat”. But I just rocked cat ears and my friend drew whiskers on my face. Lots of guys were rocking skirts at the party (so sexy!) and it was just a great time. We were out dancing most of the night (a live band played “Paseme la botella”, a song that I never could imagine live). It was nice to forget about the problems I have in San Ramon, talk to my friends, speak English, and just chill.

Such a great party…I’ll sum it up simply by quoting one of my favorite shows, Entourage, “Great night. Great fucking night.”