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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting started...

So, I did it!  I officially made it through the 11 weeks of training (for the second time) and got sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer (for the second time).  Last week was a rollercoaster.  We finished up training with a trip to the embassy and a couple of other training sessions.  On Wednesday morning, I headed into Managua where we had our last day of training at, ironically, the same place we had our 3-day orientation when we arrived in September.  While in Managua, we stayed at a hotel near the Peace Corps office.  Thursday we had an excellent Thanksgiving dinner at the PC director's house.  Last year I celebrated Thanksgiving with a couple of my Peace Corps Honduras friends with a hamburger at TGI Fridays in Tegucigalpa.  I loved being able to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and I especially liked being able to sit outside to eat it :-) 

Friday was our swearing in ceremony.  It was held at a hotel in Managua, and Peace Corps invited 2 members of each host family to come.  My host mom is too cool for school and decided that, because she's probably hosted more volunteers than anyone else, she's allowed an extra guest to the swearing-in ceremony.  So, she brought both of the twins with her.  We started out with a more informal ceremony to recognize the different host families and thank them for their help over the past 11 weeks.  Later on, we had the more formal ceremony where we had to sing both the Nicaraguan and U.S. national anthems, took the "promise of service" in Spanish, and were officially sworn in by the ambassador (promising to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.)  Here are the words to the promise of service, which is something that is unique to Peace Corps Nicaragua:

En el nombre de Dios y por la comprensión y la amistad entre la gente y las naciones, solemnemente me comprometo a trabajar con dedicación y entusiasmo en las tareas que me señalen, durante dos años o durante el tiempo que dure mi permanencia en el país.
Prometo esforzarme por afianzar vínculos de afecto y solidaridad con el pueblo nicaragüense, mediante el respeto mutuo y una verdadera vocación de servicio.
Por Dios, por la Patria, por la Paz.

In the name of God and for the understanding and friendship among people and Nations, I solemnly promise to work with dedication and enthusiasm in the tasks that are assigned to me, during two years or during the time that I may stay in the country.
I promise to strive to secure bonds of affection and solidarity with the Nicaraguan people through mutual respect and sincere vocation of service.
For God, for Country, for Peace.
My Niquinohomo Family

All of NICA 60-- Environment and TEFL Volunteers

So, then, we officially went from being Peace Corps Trainees (aspirantes) to Volunteers (voluntarios).  We had a chance to celebrate on Friday night, and in the morning we said our goodbyes and headed out to our sites.

My first few days in site have, overall, been very positive.  I've mostly been spending my time in the school observing classes and with my host family.  Yesterday I got to meet the mayor (alcalde), who welcomed me to the town and invited me to work on projects with his office.  He also said that they have some funds for environmental projects, so hopefully I'll be able to take advantage of that.  My host family is great, and there are constantly people coming in and out of the house, so I've been meeting a bunch of community members.  My next task is to work to ensure that I will stay busy over school break, which starts next week and goes until February.  My project director wants us to start  small gardens to practice for when we do our school gardens and to start youth groups right away.  I'm also going to visit the health center and talk to a nurse there who mentioned the possibility of working with a youth group aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy.

So, all's well here in my site.  I'm loving the climate here.  I'm in the mountains, so it's cooler than where I was during training.  I've actually been chilly a couple of the days that I've been here, but I think I've lost all sense of temperature.  It probably hasn't gotten much below 70 degrees :-)  Hope you're all staying warm!

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