The idea that comes to mind when serving in the Peace Corps is that you get shipped off to your site and left there fulfil your service. For the most part that seems to be the case, of course you do get 1 weekend away per month for mental break. I have found that participating in the pilot program has lead my cohort to travel significantly more than a normal volunteer would. It seems I can never stay in my site for longer than a month! I just got back from an In Service Training (IST) meeting which turned out to be quite the spectacle when many high profile local socios(counterparts) from SENA decided to stop by.
Being a pilot program, we meet up about once a month, sometimes once every 2 months to check on progress. The usual process for a PC volunteer would be a possible reconnect meeting with fellow volunteers after 6 months of service. I always feel a little guilty travelling so much but the truth is there is so much to figure out about the operations of the CED framework. Not to mention Colombia is a very distinctly formal country when it comes to business and shaking hands and showing off the gringo prototype is a given. It’s a crazy thought to understand why we have to go out of our way to meet with the national directors when were only working in one very specific region of Colombia. Simply put, there is no logical answer other than thats how they do it here and we must respect the culture. Much like an old Colombian saying, el que manda, no va (the one who gives orders, never goes). I will likely NEVER meet with these national directors again, and they propose for us to coordinate in ways I know Peace Corps Security and Safety regulations will never allow. On another note, I will be able to better define what the role of a CED volunteer will be for future volunteers and hopefully get the opportunity to finally stay in my town long enough to give it a go!
P.S. I also got to feel really fancy with all the photographers taking very paparazzi like photos of us.
*Photos courtesy of Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje – SENA