So. I need to share a quintessential Peace Corps moment that I had this week. And yes, I did need to bold Peace Corps in that sentence because even if I wasn't in Peace Corps when this following little cuento (story) happened I would think "huh. This is a very Peace Corps moment." Here goes:
This semana, Shilla is celebrating their 75th Bodas de Diamante Anniversary which is on the 14th by the way.. but in Peru you take a day holiday and turn it into a weeklong (or sometimes much longer) party. Everyday this week Shilla had somethin' else goin' on from a cooking contest (which I was a judge to by the way :) to parades to theater and dance contests.
On Wednesday there was a medical day where the Health Post when down to the Plaza and gave free consultations (from a checkup to a dental visit to a gynecological appointment.. yup. You heard me. And that last check up in a test mind you. Outside. In the plaza.) Anywho. They also were giving out free medicine. The health post workers asked me to help out with set up and facilitation, etc. Which is really nice because basically it was a way for me to get out there and have the people see me some more doing something for the community. The health post also asked me to dress up as Santa Clause too.. but luckily I got out of that one (it's so hot in those costumes!). So, I was ayudando without much direction (the thought came to me that it felt very much like City Corps and that I should probably get a teen Shilla City Corps group together to do stuff like this next year) and it didn't feel like the health workers really wanted me around all that much (I mean they're the experts.. I'm just tall so I can hang banners up high where normal Peruvians can't reach)... I felt a little bad because I really wasn't all that much of a help. But then... a moment happened.
I was talking with my padje (abuelo en Quechua) who is this really sweet old man by the way. He calls me nina (little girl! how cute is that?) Anyways, we were sitting on the curb chatting when someone starts passing out little candies to ALL the people waiting in line to see the doctors (and there a lot of people by the way). The candies are these little lemon tasting/shaped hard candies and each come in their own handy dandy wrapper. The problem with that is everyone, without a second thought, will just throw that wrapper on the ground.. and this goes for any kind of trash any size..... anything (they don't have the "oh my gosh, my napkin just flew out the window do you think we'll get fined?" kind of guilt that I would say most Americans have). So, naturally my abuelo let his wrapper fall to the ground. I then, nicely, picked up the trash off the ground and said "I'll throw this in the tacho (trashcan) for you". A second later I looked up, and every single one of the traditional pollera, yankee wearing women who probably don't speak much Spanish, saw me and with a smile were picking up their wrappers that just a second ago they had dropped! Yeah. I was awe struck. Ok. I know it's something tiny. But after feeling like no help and seeing that just by picking up a wrapper the size of my thumb nail for my grandpa made all the rest of the Shillapinos pick up their trash... it made my heart warm. I felt like maybe.. maybe I am a help. That maybe I will have an impact. No matter how small.
So. That's my Peace Corps story. I am heading to Lake Titicaca in a week with Raquel and Jenna (words can't express my excitement) after next week's Peru 13 Youth Development reunion meeting (yay for seeing amigos!). I hope everyone is having a good Christmas season with many candy canes and good smelling trees (I told some of my guy students that I like the smell of pine trees, so they brought me some leaves by the way). Hasta pronto!