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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Huancayo Day 22 teachers rant

Teachers all over Peru have gone on strike and are causing much turmoil. Of course, the teachers are rioting because they want higher wages. Not only do I strongly disapprove of such actions from educators, but they are taking extremely unnecessary measures to prevent their students from learning. And for what? For their own greed and self-satisfaction. It's gotten to the point where some teachers are throwing rocks at anyone who dares enter or go near the school. The children here aren't like the ones we see at home. These kids want to go to school. They'd much rather be at school, taking a test, than get beaten at home or forced to do a tremendous amount of chores. For many, school is the only place where they are safe and happy.

How dare these teachers, educators, mentors, role-models for the children refuse the right for such eager students to learn? SMFH. Are they not ashamed of themselves? And what are they going to say in a few months, when the strike is over? "Oh sorry, Johnny, for hitting you with a rock the other day. I just didn't want you to go to school so that I could get some more money. Oh and you don't remember what we did 2 months ago? Oops, my bad for not allowing you to learn anything while I was busy being greedy."

Ugh. They disgust me.

Meanwhile, I'm mostly all packed to leave... I still can't get around the fact that in 7 hours, I'll be on the bus to Lima. And then the airplane to Los Angeles. And then home. I'm anticipating lots of tears at the end of the afternoon classes, on the bus, at the airport, at the other airport, and at home.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Huancayo Day 20 rant + got stalked again

Another prominent topic worthy of discussing here is the matter of domestic violence.

I first encountered this issue during my 2nd week at school. Jasmin, an 8 year old little girl confessed to Samara and me that her uncle often beat his wife and kids with a metal pipe at home. It was difficult to comprehend this information, because I thought it was just so bizarre. I even thought she might be exaggerating, but later I was told that domestic abuse is common here in Peru.

Just a few days ago, Samara told me that as she and Josy were saying good bye to some of the older girls after school, they jokingly teased the girls, "Bye, muchachas, going off to see your boyfriends, hmm?"

Kely, one of the older girls, replied, "No, Miss, I'm never having a boyfriend because boyfriends always beat their girlfriends," in all seriousness.

And that, folks, is the kind of impression that young teenage girls have on relationships.

Furthermore, today, Adele told us the story of Danilo. Danilo is one of the brightest, happiest, and most intelligent kinders at school. He only started coming a few months ago, but within his first few weeks at school, he picked up as much English as any of the other children in the kindergarten, and he is now one of the top students in his class.

His mother brought him to school one day, asking if he could get an education at Tinkuy Peru Mountain School. With a blank and almost suicidal look on her face, she explained that they had just run away from her abusive husband, had no where to stay or sleep, but she wanted Danilo to be able to go to school, at least. She also has at least 2 other children, but we don't know much about them. They came without any paperwork, because her husband wouldn't let her take them, so she and all of the children were document-less and basically, homeless. Of course the school accepted Danilo, and later we found out that the Ministry of Women had taken Danilo's family in, and provided them with mattresses to sleep on.

Domestic violence directly correlates with alcoholism. Adele, Samara, and I worry that our older boys will end up this way, like most of the male population here. We plan on having talks with all of the older kids about responsibility, drug and alcohol awareness, respect, and behavior on Facebook.

7:36 PM update:

One of our mid-aged girls, Yenny, came to school today with a bruise under her eye. It's obvious that someone had hit her, and she tried to hide it while coming into school and while washing her face. When asked who hit her, she claimed to have fallen while playing. Chica, you don't get bruises on your eye when you fall. Not a likely story. I wonder what really happened...

10:42 PM update:

Samara and I went to go get Tres Leches cake and orange juice and totally got stalked AGAIN on the way home. Except this time it was freakier because it wasn't a kid; it was a short, shady-looking man. He started following us from really far away; before the bridge that's before Real Plaza, and we stopped twice to let him pass by, ran stupidly across the street, and kept checking behind us before we realized he was RIGHT behind us again. We stalled a random nice-looking man to make him talk with us and walk a little with us until we got to our neighborhood street to turn in, and the whole time, the creepy man was a few feet away from us. Creepiest feeling ever. It was obvious that he knew we knew he was stalking us. Just like with the other kid. But anyways, when we finally turned into our little street, he stopped following us (thank god) and joined a group of boys. It was so weird. Samara has been here for less than 3 weeks, and this was her 3rd time getting stalked. Great.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Huancayo Day 19

Today was a very relaxed day for us 3 volunteers left.

In the morning, until 12:30 PM, I basically worked on my computer with furthering some ideas for my future project and looking at some different non-profit organizations. I also noticed exactly how dry my skin is. I apply moisturizer and sunscreen to my face multiple times a day, yet I've developed dark patches of dryness all over. It really hurts. ):

At 12:30, we went for our Ceviche Sunday lunch. This time, we got a small portion of ceviche as well as a fried chicken thing. The chicken came with a human hair fried into it. Yum. The man forgot about our lemonade, so wee sat there drinking a litre of lemonade before paying the bill and leaving.

After lunch, Samara and I went to our last Sunday Market, while Adele went to the school to do some cleaning. Tomorrow we plan on lecturing the kids on various topics, because they haven't been acting their best recently, and some of the kids who we're friends with on Facebook made inappropriate comments on our pictures, and we need to let them know that that's not okay. Like I said before, we're planning on handing out clothes to the kids on Wednesday, but we can't do that unless they know that they have to have good behavior, otherwise we'd be rewarding them for bad behavior - not what we're going for.

Anyways, at the Sunday Market, Samara and I encountered the most intriguing thing on display yet. As we passed by it, all I thought was, "Wow that's a really strange stuffed animal to display on the table, but okay."

"Oh my god is that thing alive?!" Samara gasped. I really thought she was crazy or being sarcastic. And then it moved.

It literally looks like R.O.U.S. (Rodent of Unusual Size) from The Princess Bride. It's nocturnal, really slow, looks drunk, drinks chicha de maize (purple drink), and is pretty much repulsive, in my humble opinion. Its owner also informed us that it's the mascot of the University of Toronto. I took a video of it, so I might upload onto Youtube later and become famous for it.

After finishing buying all of our gifts (finally) and going broke, Samara and I treaded back home with our crap to get more money. Since I only brought USD with me, we had to go back to the mall so that I could exchange it for soles, but the annoying thing is that the banks here don't accept bills that have any flaws. No rips, no tears, no random markings. My bills have been rejected several times due to small rips and tears, but this time it was the random markings that deferred them. So I had to borrow money from Samara, and then go buy my bus ticket to Lima.

On Wednesday night, at 11:15 PM, I will be taking a bus from Huancayo to Lima, arriving in Lima at around 7 AM, and then hanging around the airport until my flight at 12:50 PM. Hopefully I'll just make friends with the random travelers around me.

After getting home, chillin', eating dinner, we're now going to go out and get cake. (=
Life here is so good. Wish I could stay here forever.

Some reflections on Huancayo Days 16 + 17 +18

A copious amount of exciting events have happened these past two blogpost-less days, but I wanted to take the time this Saturday morning to explain some things.

I know that in my writings, I haven't really emphasized the environmental and living conditions here. Although all the volunteers, Tino's family, and everyone who lives in the inner city get the comfort of (mostly) paved streets, a 2-story mall (equipped with a movie theater, restaurants, and plenty of stores), electricity, internet, and an over all relatively modern housing, the vast majority of people who live on the outskirts of town are just plain impoverished.

The "Tinkuy" part of the name of Tinkuy Perú Mountain School is Quechua, an indigenous language, meaning a congregation or meeting of people. It stands for the volunteers meeting different volunteers, volunteers meeting children, children meeting children, and this big melting pot of cultures. As I have mentioned in a previous post, the school is located right at the foot of the mountain, at the edge of the city. Because of this, an abundant amount of the students are from impecunious (very poor) families, who live in run-down dirt houses, with 10 people living in the same room. Without electricity, heating, or proper flooring, things are really nasty, especially when it rains. Can you imagine living in mud?

Most of the children as well as the parents don't have a variety of clothes to choose from, either. The kids come to school in the same outfit everyday, with dirtied sleeves, ripped jeans, shirts that are 5 sizes too small, and do not get washed. In fact, some of the kids themselves probably never get washed! Their faces are cracked and dry from the anhydrous Andean climate, and their parents don't care; most of them just don't have access to lotion or cream, and have more important matters to worry about anyway.

The other night, we (the volunteers) were walking back home at around 12 AM from a little cake café. It was freezing cold, and we were all bundled up in layers of sweaters, scarves, legwarmers, and in Adele's case, the Tinkuy Perú tracksuit. From a distance, we could see a group of young boys (probably 4-6 years of age) playing at the side of the mall. "What the hell are they doing at midnight, dressed only in t-shirts at this ungodly hour?!" I thought to myself. As we approached them, it became evident that they were playing some sort of makeshift game of soccer, using their jackets as boundaries for their tiny field, and an empty water bottle as their ball. Squealing, yelling, and laughing, it was obvious that they were having a great time, regardless of the cold or the lack of proper equipment.

"Do their parents not mind?" I wondered aloud, before I had even thought about my question.

"They probably don't even have parents," Josy had to remind me.

The whole way home, I thought about how poor yet happy they seemed, how difficult life must be for them at such a young age, and what would become of them when they got older. I wanted to cry. I realized that the most likely scenario is that they would become a street gang and be those drunkards hanging around corners all day, drinking from 8 AM to whenever the bar closes. You hear stories of these cases all the time and you can't help but wonder, why them? Why does this have to happen to such innocent and charming children? Why must some 4 year olds have to stand for 14 hours a day at the daily market with only a scale and a sad look on their faces, waiting for a generous passerby to come and weigh themselves so that they could collect a few centimos? And yet just a few miles away, other 4 year olds get to play and sing the alphabet at school, happily and obliviously? I don't understand.

Our students love coming to school. They whine and wail when we say there are no classes. They ask if they could come anyways just to play. Our kids are just so nice. It breaks my heart to hear about how even our kids, the older boys at school, are getting into cigarettes and alcohol. They think it's cool because they've never been educated about drugs, and besides, what better things do they have to do?

Even though I know there's not whole lot I can do to change the situation of these people, I'm so glad I can take part in bettering the lives of the students of Tinkuy Perú Mountain School. We teach them English, math, science, and hygiene, play games with them, take them on hikes (though it's more like them taking us on hikes, haha), and give them clothes.

This Wednesday, my last day here, we are going to distribute the clothes that have been donated to us by various volunteers. Last night, Samara, Adele, and I spent about an hour sorting out and assigning clothes to the students, and even though the clothes are all used and some have little stains or tears on them, I know that they will love every article of clothing, and I'm so excited to see the looks on their faces. 

When I get home, I'm going to create a Facebook event or something, asking for clothing donations. I'll start a clothing drive at school and I am be more than willing to pay the $200 shipping cost, if it means giving the children some sort of happiness, which I know it will. I love them so much. I already know that I'll be coming back next summer. I've ranted and worried for a long time that I never felt truly passionate about anything, that I've never had specific goal in life, or a motivating factor. And now I do. I feel like this is turning into something bigger than anything I had imagined and it's absolutely thrilling. 

I am happy to say that I have been changed for good. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Huancayo Day 15

I've probably already said this in another post, but today was the best day of my entire existence.

Since I'm so superlatively exhausted, like I usually am by the end of the day here, I will merely attempt to sum up the extraordinaries of today:

-Planned on taking a hike with a bunch of the kids (whoever wanted to come) to Torre Torre, this cool reddish rock formation in the mountains near school.
-Changed our plans and decided to hike up to a waterfall instead, with the kids as our tour guides.
-Took FOREVER to get there. Was one of the most tiring, dangerous, and thrilling hikes I've ever experienced.
-My heart smiled because of how cute the kids were, especially the older boys. It's funny how I call them kids when they're only a year or two younger than I am. Abel, Brayan, and Justi all held our the Misses' hands to help us over the river rocks and were just so gentlemen-like. Ahhhh wanted to die from seeing the cuteness. Totally have a crush on all of them.

-Went back to school at 2 PM for Day 2 and final day of the Olympic games.
-GUESSSS WHOOOO WON?!?!?1? THAT'S RIGHT, MY TEAM, TEAM SOUTH KOREA WOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! So freaking proud of my bebes. Ugh totally going to be a soccer mom when I grow up. My kids are just the best in the world.

-Got empanadas at this one bakery. So yummy.
-Went shopping for food and supplies for tomorrows' closing ceremony.
-Came home, ate one of my favorite meals (the egg and sausage and fried banana), and made fail sushi for tomorrow.

SO FREAKING EXCITED FOR TOMORROW EEEEEK. On a sadder note, tomorrow is Josy & Cody's last day. I was talking to Cody about it, and it's likely that we'll never see each other again in our lifetimes. Time to sing "For Good" to each other from Wicked.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Huancayo Day 14

So incredibly proud.

I love my S. Korea team for the Olympics. My kids are just the best. Not just because we won 2 gold medals and 1 bronze, but because of their spirit and hardwork... It's just so cute and inspiring. I've never been one to be excited for sports events. In fact, I hardly ever attend school-wide athletic events. I definitely don't cheer at games, either.

But there's just something about these kids, that makes me jump up and down and scream my lungs out and continuously shout, "SOUTH KO-REA! SOUTH KO-REA!" and paint my entire face with the Korean symbol. This sounds completely berserk and out of my world to say, but I don't think I'd mind being one of those crazy soccer moms... :)

The placings as of now:
1. India -- 1 gold, 3 silver = 9 pts
2. SOUTH KOREA -- 2 gold, 1 bronze = 7 pts
3. Great Britain -- 1 gold, 1 silver = 5 pts
4. United States -- 1 gold, 1 silver = 5 pts
5. Germany -- 0

Monday, August 6, 2012

Huancayo Day 13

The Olympics began. At least, the opening ceremony. Things were a bit stressful. Really tired. Had an okay dinner. We watched "Something Borrowed" and ate 2 bags of popcorn and downed a bottle of red wine and a bottle of beer. I actually only had a sip of wine and I didn't really like it and I had no beer at all. I am really tired. Which is why this is a crappy wall post.

Starting to get a little worried about what the future holds for me, since I won't have much summer left when I get back. Sucks. Okay bye.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Huancayo Day 12

You may have noticed by now that I write my blog in Spanish some days and English others. Today is an English day because it would be too difficult to explain in Spanish. And I'd have to use Google Translate for every other word. Anyways, today was a fantastic day. Here ye, here ye:

In the morning:

Samara, Josy, Cody, and I went to Parque de Identidad Wanka. Everything there is made of stone and the most exciting part is that you can pay 5 soles to dress up in their traditional Peruvian wear and walk around the park and take pictures.

So the funniest thing happened... Josy and I were the first ones to finish dressing so we went out and started to take pictures of each other. After about 2.5 shots, a group of strangers came up to us and asked to take pictures with us. Okay, fine, people always ask to take pictures with us just 'cause we're foreigners anyways. Then, as we were taking pictures with several groups, more people flocked towards us and before seconds had passed, we had the entire population of the park gathered around us, taking pictures of us, trying to take pictures with us, and video taping us. Then for the rest of our stay at the park, people kept stalking us. So annoying. We definitely got our taste of being celebrities.

In the afternoon:

We went to a nearby restaurant to eat ceviche for lunch. It was amazing. Raw-ish fish cooked in lime juice. Just thinking about it makes me salivate. Then, we walked to the weekly Sunday market. This time, we bought so much crap. I'm not sure if I got enough gifts for everyone, but I definitely got a lot... and I bought loads for myself, it's ridiculous. I now have 5 new bags. Or rather, 2 of them were obviously used but they look vintage and I love them.

Samara and I stopped by the mall on the way home and got leche ice cream, which tastes exactly like the Lúcuma ice cream; we were so confused. We also sat and watched a bit of the Olympics on the DirecTV screen in the middle of the mall. Annoying couple PDA-ing next to us -___-

In the evening:

Samara and Josy went to go get pizza from La Cabaña (where I got drunk & threw up at, so I didn't go get the pizza LOL), while Cody, Adele, and I went to go buy ingredients at the daily market for guacamole. Guacamole Sundays. Dinner was delicious and we all ate until our bellies hurt. Now we are going to make medals and prepare for the Olympics that we're having at school. Turns out we have 126 medals to make. Great. We might watch Wuthering Heights while working.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Huancayo Día 11

Hoy nosotros montamos a caballo en las montañas de Jauja. La vista era simplemente maravillosa. De repente, paramos al lado del pie de la montaña. Nos bajamos de los caballos y subimos en pie. Fue la caminata más difícil en el mundo. Pero valió la pena. La vista.... oh..........

Friday, August 3, 2012

Huancayo Day 10

I'm sure lots of things happened today but I can't really remember and I'm too tired to because:

-We went to La Cabaña, a restaurant with live performances and dancing and good pizza (so we've heard; we didn't eat any tonight). I tried the Peruvian national drink, Pisco Sours for the first time and I got drunk after less than 2 cups and I totally was so tired and sleepy. When we walked outside, it was so cold that I instantly felt nauseous and threw up like 3 times right outside of its doors. I feel like shit still but I'm just downing water like crazy. Too tired to upload pictures right now. Will do later. Never drinking that much again.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Huancayo Day 9!!!!!!!!

Today was definitely the best day of my entire existence.

Morning was great:

-Played Capture The Flag with the kids at school for 3 hours.

Lunch was good as usual:

-But also tried a Tuna (the fruit) for the first time.

Afternoon was exciting:

-Chose teams for our Olympics games. Hehe I have the best team. We drew flags and planned.

Night was definitely UNEXPECTED:

-On the walk home, we joined a party on the street. As soon as we entered the vicinity of the party,  random people started to come up to me and ask for pictures. Adele told them that I'm a famous Chinese singer. So now I have loads of pictures with strange Peruvian men and women. Drank beer out of the same cup as a million other Huancainos. Danced with random Peruvians. Made weird dance sounds. Learned about protecting self from strange men

-Went home to an excellent meal of fried egg, sausage, fried banana, and rice.

-Went to go get "tres leche" cake and sat and ate it at a bunch in the middle of the plaza.

-Started to sing "My heart will go on" on the bench. Decided we should go to the Karaoke just to sing that and leave.

-Walked to the Karaoke place but it was closed.

-Sang on the streets and pretended to be a soap opera instead.

-Decided to sing for money in the middle of the plaza and made complete fools of ourselves but actually got paid 1 sol by a man and then the man took us to his friends. We sang "Happy Birthday" to his friend Miguel and they tried to take us out for drinks but we kindly declined. Then Samara and I rapped "Super Bass" in a separate corner of the plaza and just made complete fools of ourselves without getting money. Video is uploading on Youtube right now. My subscribers are gonna be like wtf. 111 more minutes.

-Came home, legs are completely sore, had the best day of my existence.

I love Peru and my fellow volunteers. I feel like throwing up right now though due to too much food, cake, and beer.

Pictures and video:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Huancayo Day 9

Had another awesome day with the girls! We blame everything on the altitude. Feeling sick? Blame it on the altitude. Too hot? Blame it on the altitude. Can't finish your food? Blame it on the altitude....

I sing horribly but loudly with Samara and Cody at school and at home. Oh, last night Samara and I rapped to Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" and performed for Mari & her daughters and Josy & Cody in the dining room with big wooden spoons. Video proof down below.

Today at school, we made friendship bracelets with Josy's kit as well as played concentration. For our last period (4:40 PM) class, Cody and I taught them American idioms! Very useful. Tomorrow we will begin our Tinkuy Peru Juegos Olímpicos! Each volunteer is a country and has their own team. I'm representing South Korea! :D yay so excited.

We just finished watching "The Princess Bride." It was so tiring. Everyone but Cody is asleep in their own rooms now. Ugh I have to catch up on my APUSH homework and ACT studying and math shit that I brought to do...... sigh T_T. oH WELL I'D RATHER HAVE FUN HERE THAN REGRET SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME WORKING.

Oh I don't think I mentioned this before, but I started taking Spanish lessons with Lesly (Tino's niece) during my lunch breaks, and I've learned SO much from 3 lessons...... I learned all of the indicative tenses, haha! I'm so happy because now I get to use my new-found knowledge in conversation and I feel so much more fluent.

Okay video/pictures:

PS. Sad August! ): Can't believe time flies so quickly.