Viewing posts categorised under: Peru

En verdad, este post no va a ser sobre Perú. Más acerca de mi trabajo como voluntario allí. Se puede sentir como un poco de una predicación, pero si usted tiene tiempo, trate de quedarse conmigo a la línea de la historia. Tal vez después de todo, valdrá la pena.

 

Mis días en Perú difieren de las de mi país de origen Polonia prácticamente en todos los aspectos. Aunque hay momentos, cuando algunas pequeńas cosas me recuerdan acerca de las cosas que yo solía hacer no hace mucho tiempo. Fue ese día, cuando en vez de ir a orfanatos o viajar en el destartalado bús a la ciudad de Pachacutec, nos dirigimos al evento que fue parcialmente organizado por nuestra organización de voluntarios. Los trabajadores sociales de toda Lima se reunieron en un lugar para escuchar algunas presentaciones y comer unos pasteles. Ya sabes, cosas de 'eventos' estándar. Tenía esta sensacion sentimental del pasado, cuando vi a todos los voluntarios animadas sobre las mesas para colocar los alimentos de la mejor manera, comprobando la conectividad portátil y asegurándose de que los pendrives con presentaciones funcionaran bien. ¡Oh!, el número de eventos de negocios que he preparado. Oh, en cuántos eventos participé. Después de un tiempo comenzaron las presentaciones. Yo estaba escuchando con verdadero interés la presentación de una mujer genuina y modesta que conecta fácilmente a la audiencia. Tomé una siesta tranquila durante una presentación aburrida de otro tipo con interminables diapositivas y docenas de texto en cada una de ellas. Con irritación vi el gurú - que pena, queria decir 'coach'-, que estaba tratando de ganarse la audiencia con trucos con las manos aplaudiendo y moderando su propia voz al mismo tiempo transmitiendo un mensaje bastante trivial. ¡Saludos de Paulo Coelho! Lo siento, pero he visto muchas presentaciones, para estar animado por este tipo de trucos.

La mayoría de los voluntarios más jóvenes aunque estaban más o menos interesados en lo que un mago tenía que decir. Cuando le pidió a la audiencia hacer un ejercicio, mis companieros se sentaron en un círculo, y yo,bueno, yo me uní a ellos también. Nuestro trabajo consistía en dibujar un círculo con las porciones de pizza en forma y asociar cada una con una emoción positiva: la alegría, la empatía, el amor, la confianza, la paz, la capacitación, el entusiasmo. Cada emoción debe llevar un valor de 1 a 10. Con 1 siendo completamente inútil en su trabajo, y con 10, significa que esta emoción, básicamente, establece un marco en todas sus acciones. Puesto que ya tenía un marcador en la mano comencé con una fácil. 8 para la confianza. Siempre hay espacio para mejorar, ¿verdad? El siguiente corte fue de amor. Después de menos de un segundo de reflexión he marcado un gran 2 al lado de él. Y en este mismo momento me sentí el familiar (de mi reciente aventura Callao) hormigueo sentimiento de todos los ojos mirando a mi dirección. Esta vez las miradas no llevó a nada más que sorpresa. "¡¿Qué?! Creo que deberíamos poner 10 en ese espacio." Con una calma impresionante (10 puntos) y con una decisión aún bastante firme (7 puntos), la chica estadounidensa de veinte ańos corrigió mi error. No estamos hablando acerca de los trabajos anteriores. Bien, supongo que me olvidé de ese detalle. ¡Por Dios, estamos teniendo la formación de los trabajadores sociales ahora! Diez años de trabajo en una corporación internacional dejaron una huella en mi vida. Cuando usted lo piensas un momento, estos dos puntos que he dado para el amor seguía siendo bastante un buen puntaje, ¿no le parece? Incluso nunca consideraba que el amor estuviera presente en cualquier trabajo. Nunca. Coqueteo, sí. Aventuras, sí. Pero, ¿el amor? Para nada. He intentado explicarme a mí mismo con un poco de vergüenza al decir que lo que tenía en mente era, por supuesto, mi trabajo anterior. Después la mayoría de las miradas se transforman de algo sorprendidos a simpático (bueno, digamos 4 puntos en una escala).

Ahora, no se muy bien cómo sentirme acerca de esta historia. ¿Hay un lugar para el amor en el negocio de las empresas? Naaaaah ... Creo que la decencia, la empatía, la apreciación es lo suficientemente bueno. Sin embargo, es bueno saber que que hay puestos de trabajo en los que realmente ponen el amor en la parte superior. Qué impresionante influencia tiene que tener en todas las luchas con motivación y ambición. ¿La fuerza con que afecta a todas las otras emociones? ¿Hace falta la alegría en su vida? ¿Te falta paz? De acuerdo, tú tienes amor,te va bien. Estoy más que seguro de que a todos los padres les faltan algunas de las emociones positivas en algún momento, pero si tienen 10 en la escala del amor, lo harán. Todavía tengo sentimientos encontrados sobre el coach, pero tengo que reconocerle que él era capaz de sembrar algunas semillas en la audiencia. Y una de estas semillas obtuvieron en este articulo.

¡Divertirse!

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There's a park and a playground near the place where I lived where I was a kid. Near the playground there's a amphitheater. Really cool one. I can't even count how many times was I thinking how many dope things could be done there every time I was walking by. My whole live (and as my mom likes to say - I already reached the age of Christ) I saw this amphitheater used the way it was suppose to be used maybe three times. Twice on a Children's Day (1st of June in Poland) and one time because of the 700th hundred celebration of establishing the Bronowice district. And since this jubilee took place in 1994 I think it shows pretty well the level of amphitheater's utilization. But why do I bring that up? Because this place helped me discover the biggest difference that I noticed so far between the people of Peru and people of my home country, Poland.

In district Miraflores there's a pretty neat park, where people meet up and do a park type of things. They walk, they eat ice cream and they buy things they don't need from the shopping booths around. In this very park there's an amphitheater, same in every aspect to the one from my childhood except one thing. It is in use. Constant. Or rather systematic. Every night, that I went there I was hearing music and singing coming out from circle of concrete. Every time practically all the seats have been taken by the local seniors who listened with interest and care to challengers performing their favorite songs. Giving it the second thought however, the word challenger does not fit here to much. The challenger is the person that needs to challenge someone or something. A daredevil that needs to prove that he or she has the guts to do something special and be ready to be judged by the crowd. In Peru no one judges. Not a single person from the crowd commented or gave a bad eye or a biting smile. One time when my date was more than an hour late (yup, in Latin America they really have very liberal approach to punctuality) I sat with the grannies, to listen to tonight's repertoire. The first performer was a young guy, more or less twenty years old with his interpretation of the latino love song. And he was singing bad. So bad that no matter if it was Shakira or Iglessias I wouldn't have a clue cause it would sound exactly the same. While the young dude was singing I was looking around to count how many faces full of compassion, how many ironic looks and how many phones recording the bad performance will I see. And I saw none. Nada. All the people were looking at the boy with positive emotions marked on their faces, clapping rhythmically to the music. Amable. That's the word that I've learned during my first week in Lima. It can be translated as nice, polite, friendly, caring. And most of the people that will allow you to get to know them is exactly like that. All the volunteers that I was living with were really good kids and I felt good at home living with them. But I know as well that the people that I will miss the most from my Peru chapter of life will be the locals. People in Lima don't care about the convenciones. Because they don't need to. Few people, that I have met here asked me if I like to sing. I said, that I don't sing because I have a terrible voice. In Peru this answer doesn't make any sense. They did not ask me if I can sing but if I like to sing. Many people here told me that they sing. Every time I was wondering, how can it be that this nation is so musically talented? Now I see I was confused. Same thing about the dance. Most dudes here will tell you they dance salsa and raggaeton. Up till the moment when I went to a club with them I though that Peru is the homeland of professional dancing machos. When we found ourselves on the dancefloor I realized that the abilities of the Peruvian guys do not exceed the skills of the polish chicos. The only difference is that in Peru the guys does not need to drink five shots of vodka (or pisco) first and they are more willing to dance with the girls then with I-dont-really-know-who-am-I-dancing-with-I-just-boggie.

I liked Peru. No doubt. That being said I need to add that Peru is not the corpo-person lost paradise. Sure, the photos that I posted during my trip here were all nice to look at. During my last month in Peru I was lucky to travel, and enjoy my time with beautiful people. Lima however is not the best place to live in. It's gray, it's overcrowded and it's definitively not safe. For hundred amable people you will find one bad man. And in the city populated by more than 9 million citizens it's not a small number. I want my Latin America story to still last for a long time, but on the same time I know (and I advise other careless gringos and gringas) that it's necessary to stay conscious and all the time. If you want to meet amazing people and be present in there lives for some time, you need to remember that you are not at home, but on the other end of the world when grass is greener but where the bees may sting harder than you could think.

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Okay, this post won't be about Peru. More like about my volunteering there. It may feel like a little bit of a preaching, but if you have a while try to stick with me to the punch line of the story. Maybe after all it gonna be worth a dime.

 

My days in Peru differ from those in my home country Poland practically in every aspect. There are moments though when some little things remind me about the stuff that I used to do not so long time ago. It was that day, when instead of standard drive with a rickety bus on the way to orphanages or the city on sand Pacachutec, we headed to the EVENT that was partially organized by our volunteering organization. Social workers from all over Lima met in one place to listen to some presentations and to have some cakes. You know, standard event stuff. I had this sentimental blast from the past when I saw all the volunteers bustling about the tables improving the food placement, checking the laptop connectivity and making sure pendrives with presentations work fine. Ohhh, how many corpo events have I prepared. Oh how many events have I participated in. After a while the presentations started. I was listening with true interest the presentation of genuine and modest woman who easily engaged the audience. I had a peaceful nap during a boring presentation of other guy with never ending slides and dozen bullet points on each of them. With iritation I watched the guru - sorry, I ment 'coach' , who was trying to win the audience by tricks with hands clapping and proper voice moderation on the same time delivering quite trival message. Paulo Coehlo says hello. Sorry, but I just watched to many presentations, to be excited by this kind of tricks.

Most of the younger volunteers tough were pretty much interested in what Slick Rick had to say. When he asked the audience to do an excercise mis companieros sat down in a circle, and me... well, I joined them too. Our job was to draw a circle with pizza shaped slices inside and associate each slice with a positive emotion: joy, empathy, love, confidence, peace, empowerment, enthusiasm... each emotion should carry a value from 1 to 10. With 1 being completely meaningless at your work, and 10 meaning that this emotion basically sets a course of all your actions. Since I already had a marker in my hand I started with an easy one. 8 for confidence. There's always room for improvement, right? The next slice was love. After less then a second of consideration I marked a big 2 next to it. And in this very moment I felt the familiar (from my recent Callao escapade) tingling feeling of all the eyes looking at my direction. This time the looks did not carry anything else but surprise. "What?! I think we should put 10 in there." With impressive calmness (10) and yet pretty firm decisiveness (7) twenty year old american girl corrected my mistake. We are not talking about PREVIOUS jobs. Right, I guess I forgot about that detail. For the love of Christ we are having the training for social workers now! Ten years of corporate job left a mark in my life. When you give it a second thought tough, this two points that I gave for love was still pretty darn good score, don't you think? I never even considered love being present at any work. Ever. Flirt, yes. Affair, yeah. But love...? Wrong address. I tried to explain myself with a bit of embarrassment saying that what I had in mind was of course my previous job. After that most of the looks transformed from surprised to somewhat sympathetic (well, let's say 4 points in a scale).

Now, I don't really know how to feel about this story. Is there a place for love in corporate business? Naaaaah... I think that decency, empathy, appreciation is good enough. It's cool however to know that that there are jobs where you actually put the love on top. How freakin awesome influence does it need to have on all the motivation & ambition struggles? How strongly it affects all the other emotions? You are missing joy in your life? You're missing peace? Okay, you have love - you gonna make it. I am more than sure that all the parents miss some of positive emotions sometime but if they have 10 on the scale of love, they will make it. I still have very mixed feelings about the coach, but I gotta give it to him that he was able to sown some seeds in the audience. And one of this seeds resulted in this very blog post. Divertirse!

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Before I decided to become an expat in Peru I did my homework first. I studied carefully all the promo materials related to the places that I consiered for my volunteering to find out as much as possible. Peru, Equador, Colombia... in each video the previous travelers shared their personal stories. And in each video for the question about what is the best part of their journey, all respondents gave the very same answer - the people.

After less than a month from my arrival I can put my name under those words without any hesitation. People are definitelly the most interesting, most inspiring an most eye-opening part of this adventure. Living in one house with other volunteers I am lucky to meet people from different backgrounds, with different experiences and life stories. More or less every two weeks the brand new delivery of fresh volunteers is delivered. If you add to that the locals that I had a chance to meet already, and the people that I've talked with in the way you will get quite a number. A group of people from which every single one thought me something new about the world, relations an attitude towards different things.

The last three days I've spent in Huaraz, a town which is basically a checkpoint for various excursions in Cordillera Blanca. I've taken one of those tracks to a lake on the altitude of 4650m above the sea level . And yes, I got to admit, the landscapes that I've seen were worth a thousand likes. Still, the thing that will stay in my hand for much longer time then the views were meeting two guys from Israel. Boys, who after two year obligatory military service set of on the trip across the Latin America.

RUN BOY RUN

Walking up Cordillera Blanca to reach Laguna 69 we had quite some time before reaching the top. Once in a while between the bites of insanely sweet King Kong waffle and mouthfuls of bitter coca leaves we talked down our compañeros on a trail. 'so, where are you guys from?' - my american buddy started with classic and friendly opening line. 'Noooo way, that's awesome!!!' he followed with his specific teenage enthusiasm after the guys answered his initial question. Few hundred meters later (or couple yards - depending if it's me or Michael who narrates this story) we also knew they have just finished their military duty and went to conquer the world. Michael kept going with the questions and as befits teenager, he didn't really thought through if they are subtle. More than his question 'so, have you guys been to war?' was I surprised by the positive answer to it. On the other hand - why should I be surprised? Chinese proverb in it's original version sounds "Better to be a dog in a peaceful time, than to be a man in a chaotic warring period" . Well, we definitely live in chaotic \ warring \ interesting times. I shouldn't be surprised that the guys that come from the middle east have actually been involved in conflicts in their part of the map. On the other hand... damn.... I have never met anyone who actually went to war... and were about 10 years younger than me.

Both guys served in two wars. One in Syria and in Gaza. Both have seen the missiles coming in their direction. Both lost some comrades. 'It's bullshit, man. The war is just bullshit. Old men start the war, and you need to fight in it... that's such a bullshit!' Michael kept going with goodwill and pacifism. I though of the scenes from Forrest Gump movie and the confrontation of US soldiers coming back from Vietnam and Flower Power protesters. Who is right? Who is wrong? 'We don't have any other choice. We don't have any place to go.' The first boy with controlled calmness summed up the conversation.

The other one, with poor English (or maybe just restraining from this discussion), from time to time added some comments directly to his friend. You could tell that the matter of middle east crisis is not the best topic for a chit chat on a sunny mountain track. During the whole conversation I didn't say a word. I had nothing smart to say. I still don't. The whole thing did not last longer than reading this blog post from cover to cover, it will however stay in my mind for a long time. Those boys were unlucky to be born in the part of the world where they need to give up part of their lives to the war. Conflict with no perspectives for peaceful and long lasting resolution any time soon. They were however lucky enough to regain their youth after those two years, and come back to things that you're suppose to do when you are young. Traveling the world, conquering the mountains and meeting dudes from Poland or US.

 

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