Yesterday all 45 trainees received our sites. The Healthy School (ES) and Sustainable Community Tourism (TCS) broke off accordingly and met with our APCD, or program director. Following a speech concerning the next steps, safety, and our training process we were each blindfolded, eagerly awaiting our location for the next 24 months. After each of our names were called out we were slowly guided to our final destinations on a life size map of Guate. Thick folder of info in hand we waited until everyone else had done the same. Possible brief inappropriate touches to recognize a neighbor, 'who coughs that way' thoughts, and attentiveness to every possible blind detail crossed our minds . Finally, we removed our blindfolds and were able to see our locations, sites and distance from friends we have gotten to know over the past two and a half months.
My site is in Alta Verapaz. Located around Coban, I will spend my next two years working at the Tea Co-op. My site holds 22,000 inhabitants (nearly 95% indigenous Q'eqchí) and a temprano-humid climate with an average temperature around 67-68. I will be spending next week at my site, working with my counterpart in order to establish an idea of what my life will entail through 2012. Current expressed needs in site include improving touristic services and the management capacities, establishing a promotion and marketing strategy and increasing environmental awareness and education within the school and local government. Listed secondary needs include English lessons, VIH- SIDA (HIV- AIDS) awareness and lessons or training in advanced technology, internet/ establishing a website.
I will have much more updated information after my visit next week where I will hopefully establish my housing and other basic needs. Talking to some current volunteers I have been told Alta Verapaz is a 'frat' department, number heavy in male volunteers. From my group Jordan (Rochester), Winfrey, Fife, Chad and Alex have all been placed in this region. Although this is the case, Alex and Chad are way up near Mexico, all of our sites vary drastically. Either way I am excited to begin my two years of service and face the struggles and opportunities that await me. I wear my AV letters proud (bro?).
6 years ago