I know it's been ages since I last updated this blog, but I promise I have some good stories to make up for it.
First, in March, Peace Corps celebrated our 50th anniversary. In 1961 President Kennedy signed the Peace Corps Act and gave the lead to Sargent Shriver (who also passed away this year) who made it one of the most unique and successful government agencies in history. To celebrate these 50 years of helping other countries and inter-cultural exchange, the US Ambassador threw a party at her residence for some 90 or so volunteers, our Peruvian counterparts, foreign and US diplomats, Peruvian government officials, and other random folks. It was a really ritzy event and I met lots of interesting people. Even the former president, Alejandro Toledo, and the current first lady were present! It was a good time and fun was had by all!
Back in site, I have begun working with a counterpart to create a group of youth leaders. Our goal is to form a group of teenagers who take leadership roles within their communities and actively participate within the communities. It's been getting off to kind of a slow start, but such is the way business is conducted in Peru. After enduring countless cancelled meetings, no-shows, and other bumps, we are finally working with a group of kids. I hope to get them designing and implementing their own community projects very soon.
I have also continued teaching English classes. The English classes are my favorite part of my job. The kids earnestly want to learn English and I feel it's the one area where I have expertise (take that everyone who has ever called me a 'Grammar Nazi'!) However, rather than teaching my own independent classes, I have partnered with the English teachers in the schools to offer the kids a focused complement to their classes. I've also introduced some neat learning techniques into the classroom. I've been learning Arabic on Rosetta Stone and it inspired me to come up with some creative lessons that the kids love. English is definitely my favorite activity here.
In even more exciting news: I got mugged! It's OK though because I beat-up the muggers and got my stuff back. It all happened when I was walking down the street in a pretty bad area of Lima. I didn't know it was a bad area and I wanted to get to know the city so I thought a walk would be fun, little did I know... I sensed a guy coming up behind me to my right and then his friends to my left and immediately behind me. I tried to evade them by making a sharp turn to into the street, but they jumped on me and one of them hit me in the nose, which stunned me. They got me on the ground and tried going through my pockets. At this point I was pretty stunned and just trying to keep them from getting my stuff. One guy kept saying "Saca la pistola! Saca la pistola!" but when nobody showed me a gun, and I hadn't been stabbed, I decided they didn't have any weapons. That's when I decided to fight. I started swinging my arms and hit one guy in the face with my elbow. Then I head-butted another. They weren't very big so I was able to drag them into the street where I was hoping a car would hit us and hurt them more than me.
They eventually got off me and when I checked for my stuff I noticed that my cell phone was missing. I looked at them and told them to give it back to me. They refused so I started running after them and screaming. They ran away down an alley. I came up to a couple who had picked up some pieces of wood. One guy threw the wood at me but I was able to just knock it away. Another guy started swinging the wood, but I could tell he was too weak to handle it properly so I started towards him and screamed in my craziest angriest voice that I was going to murder him. I guess he believed me because he took my phone out of his pocket and threw it to me. Then some people came out and helped me find a cab.
I ended up with nothing more than a bloody nose and some scraps on my arm and shoulder, but I got everything back! It was pretty exciting to get attacked by 6 Peruvians and then turn the tables on them. I bet that's the last time they mess with a gringo!
Besides getting mugged, life's been pretty chill down here. We're going into Winter now so it's getting colder, but it's not really that cold at all. I'll try to be better about updating this blog in the future.