Before I delve into the tales of this new journey, I want to provide a little preface for my sudden departure… As you all know, I returned from my 27-month long Peace Corps service in Fiji at the end of December, 2016. I spent a total of 6 weeks in the US before picking up and moving to Cusco. There were wonderful times during these six weeks- I spent time eating and skiing with family, took a 2-week friend tour of Michigan with a giant pot of chili, saw 3 out of 4 of my best childhood friends (the other is in Utah), drank a lot of good wine with my Chimney Corners crew, and spent a week in Nashville with Lauren; however, I didn’t feel ready to be in the US. The American way of life, the one I once lived myself, felt unbelievably excessive, unnecessary and individualistic. After coming from a warm, friendly, caring culture and living purely off the land, our problems and complaints seemed extremely insignificant. SO, all politics aside (because that in itself is a reason to flee the country), I wasn’t ready to integrate into the US.
As Cusco is a large city with WiFi, electricity, running water, and a Starbucks, I will not be off the grid like I was in Fiji; therefore, in addition to being involved in developing an English curriculum for an innovative, active primary school, my time here will serve as an outlet for reflection, a chance to integrate into something new, and will provide another context for me to compare to Fiji and the US. I am also hoping this experience will help me shake the homesick feeling I get whenever I think of Fiji…
That being said, I am extremely excited about this awesome opportunity! When weighing my options, and deciding whether or not to accept this job, I became nervous because it really felt like I was going out on a limb. I couldn’t find the school on the internet, received a contract in all Spanish, and didn’t have the network of PC staff and other volunteers (in terms of safety and medical); however, I decided to trust the organization and bought a plane ticket. I wasn’t entirely sure I would be met at the airport or I would be reimbursed for the plane ticket, but I had nothing to lose, because I knew I could handle the worst-case scenario I had played out in my head! The whole plane ride, I tried to calm my nerves and refresh my Spanish!
Upon arrival, I was met by a wonderful family at the Cusco Airport. They were holding up an official school sign with my name on it and had giant smiles on their faces! I am currently staying with this family; they are the owners of the school and have 2 young boys, hot water, WiFi and beautiful house that overlooks the city! I have been well cared for, eaten a ton of Peruvian food, and drank great coffee! They have been going above and beyond to show me the city, share local fruits with me and make sure I don’t get altitude sickness (I am doing well but still have a hard time breathing!). I will be staying with them while my host family prepares everything. I should be moving in with my new family next week!!
I met with the director of the school, the Belgian man who hired me, yesterday for a great lunch. We discussed the history of the school, the curriculum, my role and he answered my many questions about the school. I am so excited to be a part of this innovative new school. It is called the Global Active Learning School and is newly established this year. They are created under a similar philosophy to Waldorf and focus on active and creative learning. I will focus on teaching English Literacy for grades 1-6 in a hands-on way. I have many ideas including a Penpal activity with a US 3rd grade class (Thanks Erin Fought!), creating books, poem contests, and preforming plays… I am looking for more creative ideas! If you have any, please leave them in a comment on the post or send me an email (email@example.com). I have the next few weeks to plan as school doesn’t start until the 8th of March! So, in the next few weeks, I am going to plan activities and lessons while exploring the city and working on my Spanish in my free time!
I want to thank those who are actively engaged in fighting to preserve our rights, environment and our democracy and apologize to those I wasn’t able to see while I was in the US. Also, a huge thank you for following my blog and my newest adventure!