Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What to do during a strike

As I mention before the strike is killing my momentum, so I've decided I need to go on the offensive and start my own school-based activities. In addition to English clubs and chess clubs, I've got two club ideas that I'm really excited about. The Yuracoto Gym, and The Club de Ciencias (Science Club).


I'm thinking of combining a variety of life experiences in to one simple plan. I'm thinking a body weight, outdoors gym, that anyone can use would be perfect. I'd use moves I've seen in things like p90x, and incorporate physical activities like slacklines and pull-up challenges to keep the kids interested.

For for me, I started really lifting after getting in serious trouble with my parents in high school (sorry Mom and Dad), and I personally think that exercise is great healthy life-skill that kids in the area could benefit from. Hopefully through this they'll learn to challenge themselves, take care of their body (nutrition, stay away from drugs and alcohol, etc.), and healthy ways to relieve stress. Here's a quick video me of when I used to workout every day in NY City (OJO!! (watch out!!): My friends were playing a song with foul words in it while I worked out, so please mute the sound before watching):

Me in my Prime.

And here's a few pictures of type of gym I'd like to build. This one is on the coast of Lima (our fitness model Cate's showing the proper technique):


Through my membership in the National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) I have got a discount access to on-line science journals. The idea is for School Psychs to look up research based information for their job; however, I use it to find cool science education journals. My money, my membership, I do what I want. Anyway, I found this cool journal (it's actually a 100+ page book) on how to build your own 23 piece water testing kit out of recycled, or easy to find materials. I don't know if I can/should share this file online, so just look for future pictures of the end results.

I plan on combining this with our (Yuracoto's) weather box we built for the GLOBE program. Hopefully through this project the kids get excited about science, the environment, creative thinking, and asking questions (about everything). We'll see.

Here the kids finishing the GLOBE weather box:

Update on the Boys

Yeferson and Yordan are doing well. Yefer and I have been having a few run-ins over him watching cartoon network 23 hours a day (one hour is set aside for Dina and I to watch our Telanovela (soap opera) "Corazon Valiente"), but overall he's doing well. We've been having more and more, hombre to hombre talks (he's 7), and now he's really keen on washing the dishes, telling the truth, and taking care of his stuff (Funny, huh dad! Remember how my "Red Rider" looked compared to Adam's?!).

Yordi is a growing quick (he turns 2 years on October 8th) and is now a full blown runner. A few of his favorite things include running, giving kisses, and yelling "Brice" (pronounced Briich).

The first two pictures are the boys playing some backyard bowling. 6 large water bottles and a deflated soccer ball, and you too can join the fun:

Yordan running to give a kiss. 

And finally, Yeferson doing some house chores while Yordi looks on:

Talk about a slow month of work...

The current teacher strike is really slowing me down. In most jobs a month where there's a lull in the work is a good thing; however, as a volunteer it can be a little stressful. It's stressful because all the work you have, is work that you've drummed up the weeks and months prior. The kids and teachers don't just show up. You have to plan, remind, remind, and remind, before a project really gets going. So with the current teacher strike running about 3 weeks long, I've been kinda stuck. The following are just a few thoughts and notes about the strike:

1. The strike is due to a recent law passed where, as I understand it, teacher are receiving a pay increase, but tenured teacher's years of experience will not be counted in the new law.

2. It's been slowly creeping to the schools in my area, and appears to be gaining strength. The teachers of Yuracoto joined the strike instantly, while my other schools had been waiting to see what would happen. Unfortunately at the third week, all my schools had entered the strike, with the CEBE (special ed. school) being the last holdout to fall.

3. Some said the strike would last just a few days, some claim the strike is "indefinite" (which doesn't seem like a strike to me, but more of mass quitting). Only time will tell.

4. The news this morning showed the government officials not showing any signs of breaking, and the strikers in Lima getting pretty violent. The teachers in my area have been meeting twice a day. Once in the morning to throw eggs at teachers still working (as they travel to the rural schools), and once in the afternoon to rally the troops and share front line information.

5. I've decided try to get some after school clubs going in the down time to keep the kids around and active. Although I'm not too fond of teaching English (maybe due to the drunks in my site that shout whatever English word they can think off when I ride by. "Was my name!!!" ), I think I'll fire that club out first to attract the kids back to school, and then go from there... look to my next post on club ideas.


Here's the sight I saw when I rounded the corner to the CEBE on Monday morning. Normally it's nearly empty, with just a few kids running around. Not this week.

Teachers from all around the area listening to motivational speakers. I just took pictures and left, as I don't want to be seen as pro-strike or against the strike. 

The big red sign on the right has the teacher's union name (SUTEP) and that they are holding a national (nacional) strike (huelga).  I still don't how to properly ask someone if they are striking, or how long the strike will last, but if I get the word 'huelga' right they can usually give me the information I need.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Peace Corps Pranks

It's not uncommon for Volunteers to play little pranks on each other. Whether it's a prank call acting like the Peace Corps Peru Country Director or just trying to mess with someone, everyone seems to have a recent story about a prank. The last prank played on me was this:

The view as I entered my room.

...pretty scary to open your door to. 

Its what I came home to one day after a short absence from my site. I gave him my room key so he could borrow my bike, and in addition to returning my bike, set up a mannequin* in my room with all my clothes. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting a 7 foot, hooded man to be staring at me when I returned home. It scared the heck out of me (I'm proud to report that I didn't scream... too loud).

The mannequin itself was funny to me for two reasons:

1. Jeff borrowed it from the lady who cuts his hair in the market in Caraz. I guess they had been talking about it for weeks, and then the perfect time arose. Can you imagine allowing some weird guy with a funny accent take a mannequin from your store, not knowing when or if he'd returned it? Peruivans can be so nice.  Here's a picture of when we returned our buddy to the lady's shop:

2. The mannequin stayed in my room for about a week. I took his clothes off so they'd stay clean, and just propped him up in the corner so he wouldn't be in the way. Normal for me, but you could see major confusion in Yeferson's eyes every time he came into my room. The giant, naked, plastic man in the room was too much for Yefer, he just couldn't take his eyes off of it. We'd have a conversation, and whole time his eyes would be locked on the mannequin, as if it would come to life at any moment. The best/worst part was, he was too shy to ask me what it was, or why it was there. I've still never told him the story, and I'm sure the poor kid will always remember seeing that in the gringo's room.

Editor-in-Chief of Peacecorts

Meet Cate. A young professional,with a ton of talents and an obvious love for surf. In fact, not too long ago she was one of THE top female surfers in Peru; and gossip has it, she's been known to be seen canoodling with Mick Fanning (a world famous surfer from Australia)  in some of the more popular dicoteccas (dance clubs) of Lima. In her spare time, she likes to surf, ride bikes, surf and surf.

Although, she'll try to claim that she only knows basic English, we recently had the following conversation:

Cate- "Brice, I like your blog, but there are a few (she actually said 'a lot') of errors."
Brice- "Like what?" (rolling my eyes).
C: "Some of them are in Spanish (understandably), but there are also English errors."
B:  (Doubting she read it correctly) "Name one."
C: "The introduction on the main page, you spelled 'group' without an 'r'. I checked all over the internet to see what 'goup' meant, until I realized it was a spelling error."
B: Well, ahh, it's... um... huh... really?! On the front page introduction! Wow, that embarrassing."

Before I get mad at you guys, I'd first like to thank all of my loyal peacecorts insiders for making my little spot on the World Wide Web and global sensation. In a little over a year, I've penned 144 posts, almost reached 13,000 page views, and accumulated a whopping 20 followers. I've pretty much gone viral, all thanks to you. The blog has three main purposes: 1, share my Peace Corps experience and story with my friends and family; 2, introduce people of other cultures to the culture I'm currently living in; and 3; keep a rough record of this time of my life. I appreciate that you guys read this, and get on me when I don't keep you updated...BUT, when a friend has a booger hanging out of his nose, a piece of spinach in his teeth, his fly unzipped, and/or his shirt buttoned wrong, you gotta pull him aside and clue him it. That's what friends are all about.


Due to my blog's explosion of growth, and my very conservative prediction that google and the facebook will soon be looking to buy me out, I've decided to increase the staff here in central office. In addition to the many joke writers, fact-checkers, and local historians on staff, we created the very much needed position of Editor-in-Chief. So without further ado, please let me introduce  and welcome Cate. Any and all grammar/spilleng comments (did that on purpose) should be directed to her, for her immediate review. Here's the link to her direct private email account (she may get swamped, so please expect a one to two month wait time):

Attn: Peacecorts Editor-in-Chief

Did we learn anything in this post? I sure did:

With my service expected to end in less than a year, I've decided to apply this situation to a soon to be very relevant part of my life: the job hunt. The lesson displayed here is two fold: 1) It's all about the impression you can make on people, so make sure your resume is without errors, because that's your first (and sometimes only) impression you get; and finally 2, If you can shrewdly embarrass or humiliate the person interviewing you, you'll definitely make a strong impression and get hired instantly, just like Cate (too bad for her that there's no pay, and no future employer wants to wade through a letter of reference riddled with spelling errors).