Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall, By Any Other Name, is Spring

{{Son mis amigos, en la calle pasábamos las horas}}

Tomorrow is the first day of fall in Peru, called the "Day of Youth". All the children have the day off from school to celebrate with parades and fiestas, and in the big cities, teenagers will spend the evening going out to bars and clubs to celebrate their youthfulness. I can't believe that at home it's the first day of fall, where you can feel that chill in the air, you start to see the leaves change their colors. Spring here means the beginning of rainy nights (rain completely flooded the streets on Sunday) but hot hot days. I had always thought, when I came here, that the seasons, even though they were opposite, would still have the same names; it never occured to me that September could be anything other than fall. This year, however, I get to enjoy two springs!

I realized as I was writing about my adventures earlier that I mentioned the other interns by name but didn't say anything about who they are or what they're doing so everyone can understand my references to them. They are quite a great group and I am definitely dreading the beginning of October when two will leave, breaking "the original bunch".

There are 10 volunteers in total: 5 from the Princeton Bridge Year Program and 5 NGOs. We all get along really well, laughing as we paint a museum in Pisac, scheduling movie nights and nights out and trips to see the local sights. Everyone is easy to get along with and unique in their intersts, reasons for being in Peru, and stories. The 5 Princeton Bridge Year students are Tugce (from Turkey!), Brian, Leah, David, and Agnes; they'll all be staying for 9 months. Tugce, Brian, and David will start working on the stoves and filters project with me once they finish their intensive Spanish classes in October, while Leah and Agnes are working with a woman's group and an after-school care program for young children from rural communities.

The other 4--Maddie, Liz, Michaela, and Claire--are a mixed bunch, staying for varying amounts of time. Liz is taking time off between university and work and is from just outside London; she works on the stoves and filters project with me and is leaving in only 3 weeks. I know my project is going to feel quite different once she's gone; I mean, I am used to having her around almost all day, every day! Maddie is also taking a bridge year before going to Harvard; she works as a 1st-grade teacher's assistant and will leave a week before I do. Michaela is taking time off between university and work and is from Nebraska; she works with the women's group and the children's care center and leaves in just 4 short weeks. We had a big celebration for her 23rd birthday last Thursday. Claire just arrived on Saturday and will be doing some manner of education project; she is a junior in college taking a semester off and will leave in late November.

So quite a mixed group, everyone brining varied interests, accents, stories, and senses of humor to the table, which makes for lots of fun conversations and moments of "What did you just say that was? Wicked sick??". I know that this experience of being with everyone in a foreign country is going to make us tighter friends with a bond that will last across continents and for years to come.

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