Archives - ‘Peru’

Déjà la moitié de mon temps passé ici à Lima!

February 20, 2015 | Katrina, Uniterra, Pérou, EPS EMAPA San Martin, stagiaire en développement économique

J’ai eu quelques malchances durant la première moitié de mon stage ici à Lima. Après un changement de direction, ma première superviseure qui se casse le pied, et ma deuxième qui quitte le travail pour maladie, il me semblait que tout tombait pile pour m’empêcher de commencer à travailler. J’ai dû affronter quelques mésaventures jusqu’à aujourd’hui, mais le pire fut certainement l’ennui!

Enfin, je vois la lumière au bout du tunnel. Aujourd’hui j’ai enfin complété mon Plan de travail pour le mois et demi qu’il me reste à passer à Lima, et je vais être très occupée! Normalement, cela me donnerait un peu d’anxiété mais après tant d’attente, je suis très excitée à contribuer à ces merveilleux projets.

Je travaille avec l’Association Aurora Vivar, qui mène deux projets pour l’égalité des genres. L’un deux vise à promouvoir le leadership féminin et les sources alternatives de revenus pour les travailleuses des entreprises agro-exportatrices de Paramonga. Très bientôt, il y aura le Jour international de la femme, le 8 mars, où nous mettrons en place une foire et des activités. Je serai en charge de la photographie et des registres, mais ce qui m’anime le plus, ce sont les feuillets que j’aurai la chance de concevoir. Ils porteront sur l’histoire du Jour de la femme, contre le harcèlement sexuel et le respect de leurs droits, et seront distribués dans les écoles de Comas et Carabayllo, au Nord de Lima y à Paramonga.

L’autre projet sur lequel Aurora Vivar travaille vise à promouvoir les carrières techniques, particulièrement de sciences et technologies, auprès des adolescentes du Nord de Lima, à Comas et Carabayllo. Plusieurs moyens sont pris pour atteindre cet objectif, dont un sous-projet appelé “La Chispa de Aurorita”, où nous faisons des ateliers sur les technologies d’information et de communication (TIC), d’électricité, de mécanique, etc. Bref, des domaines auxquels les filles ne participent pas traditionellement, et dans lesquels autrement, elles n’auraient jamais pu se découvrir un talent ou une future source de revenus. Je suis en charge de créer le manuel qui servira à la formation des enseignants sur les ateliers de TIC. C’est une assez grande responsabilité, et le projet avance lentement, mais avec un peu d’efforts, il sera fin prêt à être utilisé… après mon départ.

Malheureusement, je ne pourrai pas réellement observer le fruit de ce travail car les ateliers commenceront en avril, et je termine mon stage en mars. Cela est en partie dû au retard qu’a pris l’organisation suite au changement de direction. Mais c’est chose courante ici au Pérou, la direction change tout le temps, que ce soit des écoles, des organisations gouvernementales et non gouvernementales, c’est une façon de faire pour assurer la démocratie! J’ai entendu dire que dans plusieurs institutions (incluant le gouvernement national), il est courant que la nouvelle direction renvoie les employés qui ne correspondent pas à leur vision ou leur parti… une chance que ce n’est pas le cas dans mon organisation!

Je crois par contre que mes travaux porteront leurs fruits éventuellement, peu importe si je puisse les voir ou pas. L’important est d’y mettre les efforts, et surtout, apprendre de sa propre expérience et de l’expérience des autres!

Final Blog Post

July 28, 2014 | LOUIS ROLAND, DVM, Uniterra, Peru, RNPM- Aurora Vivar

Well, my internship in Lima is finally coming to a close. It’s been a really positive experience, and I feel that Uniterra is a valuable programme for what it offers to volunteers. In this blog post, I’ll describe some of the tasks I’ve been doing since my last blog post, and then share some of my reflections on my time here.

The past two weeks were really busy with a series of workshops in “CETPROs”, or technical education centres, that inform students on how to develop their professional skills and integrate themselves in to the formal economy. For example, students are given advice on how to apply for a job, how to complete a job interview, and how to write a resume. A few of these workshops were carried out in rapid succession in Carabayllo, a far-flung barrio of Lima. The beneficiaries of these were of all ages; while the lower limit for enrolment is 14, students can be as old as 60. Interestingly, they are 70 or 80 per cent female, even though CETPROs offer courses in technical careers that don’t correspond to a particular gender stereotype (the way that cosmetology might).

At the same time as we began these workshops (known as “ABE”, or Asesorio de la Búsqueda de Trabajo), we were closing up our “Chispa de Aurorita” science club workshops. Closing up each workshop involved one day when the girls would present the projects that they had worked on to family or peers, and then a field trip to somewhere related to their workshop. This was a rewarding experience, because the girls took a lot of pride in the work that they had put in over the past few weeks, and they showed a lot of confidence in presenting their projects. What’s more, most of them had become a lot more friendly and open with me since the first few weeks, and so it was a lot of fun to spend time with them.

Working so many days (I averaged six a week) left me with a few days off, which I used last Monday and Tuesday to visit Huacachina, a touristy desert oasis a few minutes outside the city of Ica. I went with my girlfriend and a friend of hers, both of whom would continue on to visit more of Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Without a doubt, the highlight of the trip was going into the dunes in buggies and sandboarding down some spectacularly-steep slopes. We were with a (hilarious) group of anglophones from Australia and the UK, so it was also a nice break to be able to speak English again. An added bonus of this quick trip was seeing some sunlight; Lima is famously cloudy throughout winter, earning the nickname “Lima la Gris”, or “Lima the Grey”.

Once I was back, I finished up a few administrative tasks in the Aurora Vivar office. I finished entering some data from a vocational orientation test that one of the schools had completed, and made modifications to the database I’d created so that it would be ready for data entries that weren’t available during my internship, but that would need to be entered in the coming months.

This database is one of my better achievements within the Aurora Vivar office. Upon beginning our vocational orientation workshops, students complete a little form and respond to some questions that reveal their perspectives and biases on gender or training in professional settings. While it was just an Excel database, I was able to have each correct response automatically calculated and the percentages of correct responses displayed in a pivot table. The pivot table, in turn, would automatically update a corresponding bar graph, which permits any user to easily and visually compare any groups who completed the form. That is to say, if one manipulates the pivot table to show boys from one school and girls from another, then the graph will also show these groups and their responses. Because in Excel it is easy to accidentally “break” the series of calculations, I was also careful to hide the machinations of my database and leave clear instructions on how it should be updated.

I think it will be interesting to draw on some of the highlights from this database during my follow-up assignments for the University of Ottawa; firstly because it will be satisfying to have my work with Aurora Vivar also contribute to some research element of my studies, and secondly because the database reveals some interesting trends. Most notably, it shows that boys tend to be far more open to technical education and careers (even though CETPROs are overwhelmingly female), while girls are far more heavily biased towards attending university. Meanwhile, girls are less likely to say that professional aptitude is determined by gender (for example, women cannot be mechanics, or male cosmetologists must be gay). It will be interesting to see to what extent age or private schooling will influence these categories.

To close this blog post, I’ll share a few reflections on my experience. First and foremost, I’m am very grateful to WUSC and to Aurora Vivar; both of these organisations welcomed me and made me feel comfortable and useful, especially at the beginning of my internship. While there was definitely a cultural adjustment that I had to make, I never felt like I was without support or without someone who could answer my questions.

Looking back, some of the biggest challenges I faced arose from the fact that I had to work in Spanish. Though my Spanish improved a lot during my three months, not being a native speaker made it so that every little thing was just a little bit more difficult. It’s like having to swim with an weight belt on. Another challenge was simply the long travel times between where I lived and where we often gave workshops, in Northern Lima. Travel could be over three hours a day, which is a lot more than I was used to. However, compared to what a lot of limeños did every day, it wasn’t particularly bad.

The biggest benefit, I think, from my trip was the practical experience with development work. While I’ve studied development issues for the past three years, this is the first time I’ve been working on a development project within a developing country. I have a better understanding of the cultural, environmental, economic and political factors that complicate development projects, and the multitude of opinions that people in developing countries can have on their own development. Perhaps most notably, I have concrete examples of times where Peruvians ideas of what “development” should look like differ from the vision that is broadly promoted by international organisations and aid agencies. Attending gender and development seminars with Irma, my boss, was an excellent theoretical complement to the practical element of my internship.

All in all, I’m very happy with everything that I’ve learned and experienced, and I’m happy to be heading home to Canada. This is definitely an experience I’d recommend to any student with an interest in development issues and an appetite for adventure.

2nd Blog Post from Lima

June 24, 2014 | LOUIS ROLAND, DVM, Uniterra, Peru, RNPM- Aurora Vivar

Hi,

So I’m roughly at the halfway point of my internship here in Lima.  Things are going really well, and I’ve definitely settled into more of a groove compared to the constant changes from when I first arrived.  I am moved into my “pensión”, I know where I’m going to be getting my meals most days, and I’m becoming really familiar with the trips I have to make to work, be they from my house to the Aurora Vivar office in La Victoria or to the schools we do workshops in in the “Cono Norte”.

I’m getting more confident with my role in the workshops as well.  In our vocational orientation workshops, I’m a little more familiar with the costs and opportunities of university or technical education, and try to give as much of this type of information as possible to the students I work with to help them make their decisions.  I don’t have a huge amount of time with each student during the workshop, as a fair bit of time they are listening to the facilitator, but during the second session of vocational orientation they complete an exercise and quite often are willing to chat or seek input while they complete it.

“La Chispa de Aurorita”, the science-oriented club for young girls, is a bit more fun than vocational orientation.  The idea is to let girls have a fun time thinking about and completing science experiments or activities, which will boost their confidence and self esteem and maybe pique their interest in science down the road.  The girls are a lot of fun, and so is plugging a hot dog into a battery!

The other task I’ve been completing is preparing a database for the organisation to use and fill in once I’m gone.  While I’m pretty comfortable with Excel, some major challenges come from the need for the database and the charts that are linked to it to be easily accessible to people with more basic knowledge of MS Office.  Also, a lot of the data I put in isn’t numeric, and it can be difficult to decipher the handwriting of a lot of the students we work with. Once I finish all the data entry, however, I’m excited to see how useful this tool will be for Aurora Vivar.  I’m even thinking of trying to integrate this database and the trends I find within the data as an element of my final assignment for the University of Ottawa.

The last thing I’ll mention in this blog post is the university class I’m attending with my boss, who’s finishing her Master’s degree in Gender and Development.  This is a huge challenge, to try and follow a graduate-level discussion in Spanish, but I’m learning a lot, and my own experience as a student of development has helped me keep up to some extent.  I am especially appreciative of the fact that so many different viewpoints and perspectives can be presented which fundamentally challenge a lot of the mainstream ideas in Canada.  Mimi (my boss) and I have had some very interesting discussions on our way out of the university on Monday nights.

Anyway, I need to go prepare for said class, so I’ll end my blog post here.  Happy Sunday!

First Week in Lima

May 16, 2014 | LOUIS ROLAND, DVM, Uniterra, Peru, RNPM- Aurora Vivar

This blog post will describe my experience during the first week in Lima.

My arrival was a long and arduous journey; my poor dad had to drive me from Huntsville to Toronto on Sunday, May 4 at midnight for a flight that left just before dawn.  I then had a layover in Dallas that lasted nearly twelve hours, due to the flight being continually delayed, before finally departing for Peru around 8:30 pm.  I got to my hotel at around 4:30 on Monday morning.

Around midday on Monday, Isabel from WUSC picked me up from my hotel for my orientation in Lima.  She showed me around Miraflores, one of the principal tourist districts in Lima, and a few other barrios.  I also got advice on how to carry out transactions, how to find a safe taxi, and how to find my way around.  The next day, I was shown where I would love once I moved out of the hotel and I practiced taking the small private buses, called “combis”.  While buses follow a designated route, they are more or less the ones who decide the route; there is not one central municipal organisation deciding which buses should do a specific route, how often, or at what time.  I was also taken to the WUSC office and the office of Aurora Vivar (in “La Victoria”) where I’ll be working most days.  As I expected, everyone was very welcoming.

Thursday, I went to the “Comas” district, far in the north of Lima, where Aurora Vivar runs workshops helping adolescents in their later years of school to consider their future career paths and to educate them about gender and employment/entrepreneurship issues.  There is a marked difference between downtown Lima and the North; the North is far poorer, and it is clear that there has not been the same level of public investment in this region than older, more touristy, or wealthier districts have enjoyed.  The “asentamientos” of Lima, reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro’s “favelas”, are settlements that sprawl away from central Lima in the hills.  Though much poorer, people are equally friendly here, and I feel less like a tourist when I’m helping with Aurora Vivar’s workshops (though I obviously still look like one), as opposed to walking wide-eyed around Barranco (another touristy and bohemian district of Lima).

Saturday I helped with the “Club de Ciencias” run by Aurora Vivar that encourages young girls to take an interest in the sciences, presumably with the end goal of promoting interest in high-paying, sciences-related career paths.  Unfortunately, however, attendance was very poor, given that most students were busy preparing for “espectáculos” celebrating Mother’s Day.  Mother’s Day is much more of an affair in Peru than it is in Canada; my theory is that this has something to do with Peru’s influential Catholic heritage, but this is only speculation.

On Sunday I visited the Museo de la Nación, and learned a lot about the terrorism and Peru’s military governments between 1980 and 2000.  This is a very interesting and tragic history, one that I’m definitely going to continue reading about.  Unfortunately, with all the conflict between the state police and the Shining Path communist movement (and later the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement), the primary victims were Peru’s rural civilians.  In total, roughly 70 000 people are estimated to have died in the conflict.

Monday was office work, and now I’m finishing my orientation and capacity-building training with the rest of the Uniterra volunteers that have just arrived.  I’ve had a very positive experience so far; Peruvians are a very friendly and very calm, relaxed people.  I hope that, in the next few weeks, I’ll get more comfortable in my work and be able to make more meaningful contributions to the work that Aurora Vivar is trying to do.

Quelques semaines restant

November 22, 2013 | Erika, EIL, WUSC, Pérou, Accion por los ninos

Avec seulement deux semaines et demie restantes au Pérou, j’ai l’impression que je viens juste d’arriver. Avant, je pensais que trois mois seraient plus que suffisants pour mon premier voyage étage. J’étais même un peu nerveuse, pensant que mon temps ici serait trop long, en considérant qu’avant de venir je ne connaissais personne. Il est étonnant comment quelqu’un peut s’ajuster rapidement à un nouvel environnement. Après une semaine, j’ai rencontré quelques nouveaux amis, j’ai appris comment prendre les systèmes de transport de Lima qui sont une vraie folie, je me suis inscrite à un club de gym local, et j’ai goûté quelques plats typiques du Pérou. J’ai même ressenti que ma chambre ici était devenue ma propre maison. J’ai rapidement établi une routine qui m’a permis de rester active et de préparer mes journées de travail.

A « Accion por le Niños », je commence enfin à sentir que je peux aider. Après un démarrage lent, mes collègues ont commencé à me confier des tâches importantes de l’organisation. J’assiste et j’aide à préparer les ateliers organisés par APN pour la lutte pour les droits des enfants et la protection de l’enfance. Ensuite, j’écris les rapports concernant les ateliers réalisés par les organisations financières, en m’assurant qu’ils ont traité les thèmes de notre proposition initiale. Aussi, je mets à jours les comptes de médias sociaux en signalant nos évènements et les nouvelles informations au sujet des enfants du Pérou. J’ai réalisé combien il est difficile d’intégrer une nouvelle organisation en tant que volontaire, et comment trois mois passent rapidement.

Bien que Lima soit considérée comme le point central du Pérou  (avec  près de la moitié de la population), j’ai voulu voir et vivre les autres aspects de la culture péruvienne. Le Pérou possède trois régions géographiques extrêmement différentes : la côte, la Sierra, et la jungle amazonienne. Presque tous les week-ends j’ai voyagé à une nouvelle destination et après deux mois j’ai vu au minimum une ville de chaque région. C’est incroyable comment les modes de vies peuvent différer dans un même pays. La côte est couverte de sable, avec dunes que je n’avais jamais vu dans ma vie. La Sierra a une altitude extrême et plusieurs grandes montagnes parcourables. Finalement, la jungle a la rivière Amazone utilisée non seulement comme voie de transport principale (parce que route c’est plutôt pour les voitures etc), mais aussi comme source d’eau entourée de faune et flore inégalable. Chaque région possède sa propre alimentation, des habitations et méthodes de transports adaptés à leur environnement. J’ai mangé un cœur de vache, un cochon d’inde et un alligator. J’ai pris le bus, mototaxi et combis. Il y a aussi des danses et célébrations typiques à chaque région, et les locaux sont plus qu’heureux de les partager avec nous. Ces excursions m’ont permis de comprendre la diversité géographique et culturelle péruvienne.

J’ai autant vécu les merveilles de ce pays extrêmement riche culturellement que les inégalités. Il y a de grandes variations de la participation gouvernementale dans ces villes, et à cause de cela il y a aussi de grands écarts de prospérité. Par exemple, la région de la jungle a une histoire de participation et suppression terroriste, il n’y a donc pas vraiment de présence autoritaire légitime. Les richesses sont dans les mains de quelques-uns et la grande majorité de la population vit dans une pauvreté extrême. En posant des questions aux autres volontaires, j’ai fait face aux problèmes sociaux du Pérou comme l’addiction à la drogue, la prostitution infantile ou les abus sexuels familiaux. Malgré le fait qu’il y ait quelques organisations qui essayent de traiter ces problèmes, les cas sont trop fréquents pour le peu de services offerts et le manque de programmes gouvernementaux. Je pensais que j’avais bien vu la misère économique et sociale péruvienne en travaillant dans les bidonvilles de Lima Sur, mais cette expérience dans la jungle a changé ma perception des problèmes et inégalités du Pérou. Elle m’a fait comprendre l’importance des organisations non gouvernementales, et je me sens chanceuse d’avoir pu travailler ici grâce au programme des stages internationaux.

Bienvenue à Lima

October 28, 2013 | Erika, EIL, WUSC, Pérou, Accion por los ninos

Je m’appelle Erika et je suis actuellement en stage à Lima, capitale du Pérou. L’organisme non gouvernemental avec lequel je travaille se nomme Accion por los Ninos. Étant une étudiante dans le programme d’études internationales et langues modernes à l’Université d’Ottawa, cette opportunité d’effectuer un semestre à l’étranger me permet d’obtenir les crédits des cours de sciences politiques de niveaux 300 et 400 en plus d’un cours au choix. La chance que j’ai de me retrouver dans un pays latinos est incroyable. Ma troisième langue est l’espagnol (grâce à mon programme d’étude) et je peux maintenant mettre en pratique ce que j’ai appris sur les bancs d’école. Je ne peux penser à une meilleure façon que celle-ci pour être davantage fluide !

Après un mois dans ce milieu, j’ai encore de la difficulté à croire que j’y suis réellement. Chaque matin je mange du « pan » frais livré directement chez mes hôtes. C’est accompagné de beurre, de confiture et d’une tasse de café. Par la suite, je marche une vingtaine de minute jusqu’au bureau d’Accion por los Ninos (APN). Le bâtiment est une ancienne maison coloniale qui a été rénové. Maintenant, deux compagnies y siègent. APN travaille avec les cinq districts de Lima Sur. Ils agissent activement dans le secteur des droits des enfants, établit par le traité des Nations Unis en 1990. Ils sont associés avec plusieurs ONG de Lima qui luttent également dans leur axe d’intervention. Toutefois, la majeure partie des fonds et des directives proviennent de l’organisation Save The Children, basé en Suède. Ils accueillent diverses réunions traitant d’enjeux très touchant tels que l’abus familial, la négligence des parents envers leurs enfants, les inégalités de genre, l’éducation inaccessible et les jeunes travailleurs. Les rencontres peuvent être orientés vers les besoins des parents, des femmes, des travailleurs du secteur de la santé et bien évidemment, vers les enfants de Lima Sur.

Mes premières semaines avec APN furent concentré sur une introduction quant aux statistiques et aux différentes problématiques de cette région. J’ai lu plusieurs articles et mandats écrient pour les employés et les volontaires de l’organisation. Cette introduction incluait une visite dans chaque secteur. J’ai alors pu observer de mes propres yeux les enjeux quotidiens auxquels les citoyens font face. Je suis allée à deux réunions différentes où j’ai pris des photos et appris encore d’avantage sur le travail qu’ils font à Lima. Pour l’instant, mon rôle consiste à chercher des nouvelles au sujet des droits des enfants au Pérou. Je suis dans le secteur des communications de l’organisation. Je suis en charge de la mise à jour de leur page facebook et de leur acompte twitter. J’y inclus les informations trouvées lors de mes recherches. De plus, je fais des petites tâches quotidiennes. J’espère qu’il y a aura un projet stimulant dans le futur, car jusqu’à ce jour, les heures sont longues. L’immersion est un moyen d’apprentissage très efficace. À mon avis, j’ai déjà appris plus que ce que j’aurais appris dans quatre cours d’espagnol. Chaque jour je fais face à de nouveaux dilemmes. Je fais preuve de persévérance, je persiste et je finis par surmonter les obstacles ! Je suis consciente qu’à la fin de mon stage, mon espagnol sera bien meilleur. De plus, j’apprends les exigences et les compétences nécessaires qu’il faut acquérir pour travailler au sein d’une organisation non gouvernementale qui fait avancer les choses. Je suis enthousiasme et excitée pour les deux prochains mois.

Working in the Amazon.

July 16, 2013 | Shabri, DVM, Uniterra, Pérou, Red Nacional de Promoción de la Mujer RNPM, Local Microenterprise

I wake up to the faint sound of raindrops rolling off the neighbouring tin roofs, slightly drowning out the constant put-putting of the motorbikes and moto-rickshaws that engulf the entire city. The humidity hits me right as I step out, like a wet hug that’s concurrently welcoming and suffocating. I hop on the back of a coworker’s motorbike to hitch a ride into the campo, where I’m to carry out my interviews with the local farmers. Farms in the Selva Baja are not like the ones back home however; Peru is bordered by the Andes on one side and the Amazon on the other - there are no Flat Lands in this country. We start our forty-minute ascent up the winding mountain road, the sun rising slowly from behind the peak but sunlight still not visible through the thick clouds lingering around us as we climb higher. I take a few exceedingly deep breaths, my lungs gratefully aware of the untainted air, as we leave the polluted atmosphere of Tarapoto. The foliage thickens on the side of the road, and I am reminded that we are in fact in the Amazon, the tall and lanky tree trunks forming acute angles with the mountain; growing outward in all directions like strands of wild hair on an unkept head. Just a thin metal barrier separates the bike from the great abyss between our peak and the next, the seemingly bottomless pit painted all shades of green, filling with eerily grey clouds and mist. We turn a corner, narrowly passing an oncoming bus which forces us closer to the edge. My heart leaps out of my chest for a split second, until it realizes that the leap into this infinite void of grey and green is no refuge, and inches unwillingly back into my body. I arrive at my destination - the foot of the main peak - where I mentally prepare myself for the 2hour hike that follows, through the thick and damp vegetation of the rain forest (while keeping an eye out for the strange and majestic flora and fauna of the Amazon), in order to reach the farmers at the top.

That is how I’ve spent at least one or two days every week, in the past month-and-a-half that I’ve been in Tarapoto. It seems interesting enough; going out on weekly hikes to have conversations with farmers about how they interact with their environment, followed by a couple of days in the office transcribing my conversations from recorded to written word. Honestly though, my time in Peru so far has been a little bitter-sweet, and I think the only thing I really appreciate about being here is the incredible environment and nature that I get to experience. The drives to and from the campo, taking in the awe-inspiring view as my motorcycle hugs the curves of the mountain; the giant green and orange caterpillars clinging to the plant outside my window in herds of 50 at a time, right on the cusp of cocooning into butterflies; the tiny rainbow-coloured birds I spot in the rainforest, singing to one another as they hop along the branches of the aguaje tree; the baby chicks, yellow and brown, standing on the newly damp dirt road outside my office, pecking their little beaks at freshly surfaced, unknowing worms; the line of ducklings waddling across the road, their mother leading the way, like a pack of boy-scouts following their troop leader. I’ve seen insects the size of large frogs, and frogs the size of large ants, and ants the size of small rodents. I’ve kissed flowers in the shape of lips that the locals call besitos (or “little kisses”), and bitten into apples that looked like red pears, and cooked wild mushrooms from strange trees. And I think, after these three months are over, these are the things I will remember.

But when I think of the rest of it - the work I’m doing here, the people I’ve met, the places I’ve seen - I don’t think these are the things that I will really miss. It’s not that I haven’t built strong relationships or learned enough so far - in fact I’ve learned an enormous amount about the inner workings of an NGO, as well as a great deal about the role of women in rural Peruvian societies. On a more personal level, the past two months here have even taught me more than I ever thought I’d learn about myself, and I’ve come to realize exactly what kind of person I am and exactly where my faults lie, which is something I am both scared of and grateful for.

But overall, when I think of my experience as a whole, the beauty of the nature around me is the only thing that has kept me satisfied with this place, and in fact, (this may just be a sign of unrecognized home-sickness) when I think of about all the rest of it, I find myself saying “ok, well this was fun but…I’m ready to go home.”

You are in charge but you’re not in control.

June 5, 2013 | Shabri, DVM, Uniterra, Pérou, Red Nacional de Promoción de la Mujer RNPM, Local Microenterprise

This paradox, “you are in charge but you’re not in control,” which we dissected a little bit during our pre-departure trainings, has particularly stuck out for me over the past month of being in Tarapoto, Peru. Having spent a fair bit of time in India throughout my life, and additionally, having done some volunteer work there last year, I thought I had a huge advantage coming to Peru, as I would have already been accustomed to much of the culture shock of the developing world. This ended up being true on some accounts: I was not fazed by the numerous street dogs and cats, the closet-sized tin-roofed shops in the market, the abundance of ‘moto-rickshaws’, the insane traffic and complete disregard for street laws, or even the visible corruption among authority figures. However, one thing I can’t seem to get used to is the intense and deeply ingrained machismo that I’ve experienced here in Tarapoto. It’s more than just gender inequality; it’s this objectification of women that’s so deep-rooted into society that it almost goes unnoticed. Most people tend to just ignore the catcalling from men on the street, for example, and even my co-workers have asked me why I get so bothered by it, but it’s not the catcalls themselves that bother me necessarily, but rather the power it gives these men. There’s a kind of dominance it gives them over me; one that compels me to keep my head down as I walk by them, or avoid (and when avoidance isn’t possible, even dread walking by) certain areas that have groups of moto-rickshaw drivers or construction workers on break.

While flipping through some documents at work the other day however, I found my notes from our pre-departure trainings and was drawn to the phrase for which I named this blog entry. It means that you may not be in control of a situation, but you are in charge of how you deal with it, which is what I’m slowly learning to do. It is proving to be quite difficult, especially since I’m working directly in the field of women’s rights and empowerment, but my goal is to get better at dealing with this and other difficult situations by the end of my time here…after all, there are no ‘good internships’, only good interns, right?

Aside from all that however, I must say that there are really some very lovely aspects to being in Peru, and moreover, not being in a big city but rather so close to the Amazon. I’ve got the magnificence of the Andes and the beauty of the rainforest, all in one place. The kind of scenery that I’ve experienced so far has greatly intensified my appreciation for nature and the true beauty that the earth has to offer. There really is no better feeling than standing at a height that feels like the ‘top of the world’, and breathing in the clean, fresh air as condors fly overhead while the river flows below.

Another thing that I’ve also really come to appreciate about this internship is the fact that there are several other interns working in Tarapoto as well, however they are all ‘professional volunteers’, something I had never come across before. I’ve always traveled with people my own age who have been at the same stage of their lives as me, however all the other UNITERRA volunteers I’ve met here are in their late twenties to mid-thirties, either doing research or just working as professional volunteers for different NGOs. From the perspective of a DVM student, it has been quite interesting talking to them and getting to know their opinions and views on the work that we’re all doing here, and moreover, it has given me a wider perspective on possible projects and employment for my future.

New month, new lesson

January 8, 2013 | Annie, PhD Psychologie, Wusc, Perou, CEDRO

Déjà décembre. Comme le temps passé vite! Plus encore lorsque l’on travaille à la mise sur pieds d’un programme thérapeutique pour trois maisons de jeunes adolescents… Heureusement, la beauté de vivre parmi la culture Latino est que les imprévus du temps de Fêtes n’ont pas à menacer le succès de mes efforts. Oui, comme à chaque mois, j’avais en décembre un horaire bien rempli de sessions groupales et d’ateliers à animer, de matériel à préparer et d’évaluations à compléter. Les festivités de Noël et du Jour de l’An on mit tout cela de côté!

However, as I said, this is the beauty of living in Latin America! Everything gets done in its own time, unplanned activities and delays are daily occurrences, and plans are merely made as suggestions. Why a “beauty” you might say when for most North Americans these very aspects of Latin American culture are a source of stress and frustration? Because the simplicity implied by this way of life enables those who choose to live by its rules, to discover the beauty of everyday events.

Ne vous trompez pas, il peut être décevant de devoir changer ses plans jour après jour, mais adhérer au rythme de vie Latino m’a permit ce mois ci de découvrir la beauté du temps des Fêtes, le partage, la compassion et la gratitude qui règne ici. Décembre fut un mois peu productif sur le plan professionnel, mais il me permit de grandir beaucoup sur le plan personnel.

Looking back at the reasons that pushed me to request and fight for this practicum placement in Peru, I am reminded of my desire to learn how psychology is practiced outside of North America. Staying flexible, open-minded, and attentive to the smallest of experience is exactly what I learned about psychology this month; no matter the treatment plan, intentions, and schedule.

À mi chemin… Une constatation des apprentissages effectués

December 3, 2012 | Annie, PhD Psychologie, Wusc, Perou, CEDRO

Alors que les autres étudiants de l’Université d’Ottawa s’apprêtent à rentrer au pays (si ce n’est pas déjà fait) suite à la fin de leur stage WUSC – Étudiant sans frontières, voilà que j’en arrive à mi-chemin de ma propre expérience de stage à l’étranger. Trois mois ce sont déjà écoulés depuis le jour où je suis arrivée à Lima en septembre dernier… Que de découvertes et d’apprentissages j’ai effectués! Et le mois de novembre n’était certainement pas une exception!

Taking a well deserved break from my work to discover the many attractions of Peru, I started off the month of November with a visit to Arequipa, the Colca Valley, Cusco and Machu Picchu. What treasures I have seen! While Lima resembles any great cities of the Americas, I was so happy to finally get a glimpse of traditional Peruvian culture, eating both Alpaca meat (one of the 4 llamas found in the mountainous regions of Peru – the “Sierra”) and cui (guinea pig), greeting woman wearing their native dresses, and dancing to the sound of the panpipes. Visiting the Peruvian Andes also meant reaching up to 4900 meters in altitude (over 16 000 feet) and braving the swirling roads to and from each city. Yep, you guessed it, in order to see as much as possible of the breathtaking landscapes this country as to offer, I decided to travel by bus (sometimes up to 23 hours at a time) instead of taking the 1 hour flights that would’ve taken me to most places… Mais ça en valait la peine! Que dire des terrasses Inkas qui continuent de servir à la production de maïs, de patates et autres aliments, et du spectaculaire site de Machu Picchu caché parmi les flancs de montagne cuscéniens?

Le mois de novembre marqua aussi la découverte d’une célébration toute particulière pour la culture latino : le « quinceañero », ou fête des 15 ans, durant laquelle quatre filles de la maison de groupe dans laquelle je travaille on célébrer leur passage à la vie de « femme ». Une soirée toute particulière marquée par musique, danse et partage, le tout dans une simplicité rafraichissante.

But November was also a month of professional development thanks to my participation in the Congreso Internacional de Psicoterapia at the University Cesar Vallejo in the city of Trujillo. As an invited speaker, I had the opportunity to present a conference on interactive cognitive behavioral interventions for children, adolescents and their families to approximately 500 attendees. All entirely in Spanish! As a reward for this challenge completed with success, I decided to stay a few extra days in order to explore both the regions of Trujillo and Chiclayo. After learning about the Inka Empire, I was able to familiarize myself with pre-Inka civilisations such as the Moche and the Chimú. Walking around the ruins of their adobe palaces and feeling mesmerized by their immeasurable artistic abilities (a visit to the Tumbas Reales Museum can only leave one speechless at the sight of golden creations), I realised the preciousness and importance of the impressions and lessons we leave behind.

Alors que je me dirige vers le mois de décembre et la nouvelle année, je prends plaisir à constater les exploits que j’ai déjà accomplis et les nombreux défis qu’il me reste à surmonter.