Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Photos!

Finally. These took a LONG time to upload. Sorry Mom, yours will have to wait.

Click on link at right and it´s under the ¨Bolivia¨set. Wheee!

The Prolific PC Mini-Success

So you would think that after 8 months in a new job that you would be ready to move on to expert (let’s say “verifier” in OTC confirmation-speak) status. But alas, my friend, this is the Peace Corps. After 8 months I’m just getting started. I recently had a mini-success with my tourist survey that I administered at the last fair. I did what I do best, and packaged all my data into a pretty little document brimming with pie charts and the like and I think that my counterpart was semi-impressed (she said she wanted to hire me…too bad for her I already work with her and in some ways for her). Although I think it’s important to know who your clients (aka tourist target market) are, I am hoping that the most important part of that document is the recommendations that I came up with for things that are potential projects that should be supported by the guide association and tourist office. These include giving a workshop to the food vendors on hygiene and santiary food-handling practices and also continuing the involvement with the guides during the fairs where they’ll organize tours during the fairs and festivals along with selling postcards and posters. The thing about being a Peace Corps volunteer is that you try to do the same work as the other volunteers in your project, but the key is to avoid reinventing the wheel, exploit the synergies (ha! what the heck does that even mean, business terminology popping out of my arse) that exist, and leverage the resources that are already at your disposal. Let me say, that was an excellent sentence. I do believe for that reason I am a microenterprise volunteer and not a basic sanitation volunteer building latrines. Anyways, I’ll keep you updated on my work in tourism; I think (cross your fingers) it might be going somewhere!

I found this article (along with the readers’ comments) in the yuppy NY Times on public service careers and the incentives for going into them kind of interesting. I agree that until you can change the view people have of under-valued and under-appreciated careers such as teaching – followed by a major adjustment in salary (hmm…let’s think, if I want to make a lot of money do I teach 9th grade math or be an investment banker?), you can’t incentivize bright, practical, economically-conscious (some with large student loan debts) people to go into public service as a career.

In more important news, after reading the June issue of Vogue, I’ve decided that I am a fan of Alexander McQueen dresses. Although completely irrelevant to my current situation, I still have the ability to admire couture fashion and fantasize about prancing around in frilly dresses and 4-inch stilletto heels.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bloggy Blog Blog

As evidenced by my lack of postings, I’ve been suffering from a lack of inspiration as of late. At the end of May, my mom came for a very lovely visit and since then I’ve settled back into my daily rituals and work. I think that life here has ceased existing as a novelty and is just work as usual now so I don’t find anything noteworthy (or blog-worthy). This past weekend was the annual chicha and chorizo (corn beer/liquor and skinny sausage) fair in my town and Pat and I indulged in both chorizo and some beer, but stayed away from the chicha which we blame our most severe gastrointestinal illnesses on. We had a nice (but short) visit from several other volunteers (actually 5 volunteers and 2 other American girls that are working with one of the volunteers at an orphanage) so it was nice to show them our site. I think of Tarata as my baby and I am the proud mother that likes to parade it around; the colonial architecture, pretty views, and of course the lovely homes that Pat and I live in. Also, the fair marked what I might consider to be my first substantial work in tourism that I initiated since I’ve been here. I wrote up a tourist survey and organized the guides that are in the tourist guide association (started up by the prior volunteer) to have a stand during the fair where they sold postcards and posters and administered the survey that I wrote up (with the reward of free homebaked cookies that I contributed – chocolate chunk and oatmeal raisin). All in all, I think they did a pretty good job during the fair and I was glad to have them running the stand themselves since they should be involved in big tourist events in town.

I also finally got my kitchen set up while my mom was here (still missing a fridge and a table but will hopefully be getting those two things in the next month from a volunteer that leaves at the end of July) and have been making good use of it. I baked the cookies for the fair, a messed up pan of brownies (that I am eating all by myself), two birthday cakes (tangerine and chocolate), and made up a little stirfry of broccoli, chicken and bean thread noodles (that the grocery store inexplicably carried at one point and no longer are selling). There are a few upcoming events that I am looking forward to…such as my counterpart’s birthday (I haven’t been out since January, it’s very pathetic) which I am sure will be oodles of fun. Also, I’m trying to get down to Sarah’s site and Oruro in the next month to finally see where she lives (and spend more than ½ hr in Oruro from an inadvertent bus detour – which some may label as a stupid error). After that, Chile and Easter Island! I will be heading out on my first solo vacation to explore the archeological mysteries on Easter Island and hopefully also get a taste of Santiago and Valparaíso.

In other news, something right now in my room smells like rotting vegetables (not pleasant) and I’m trying to figure out if it’s me. I have also, as of late, started studying for the GMAT since rumors are that the 2nd year of service flies by and if I don’t start now I’m going to be sitting there in November 2009 wondering what the heck I should do with my life when I get back to the States. I’m not so much a fan of the reading comprehension and data sufficiency question types. I know, you must think, how difficult can reading comprehension be? But I find myself struggling with those questions the most on the verbal section (ha! I have declared a truce with sentence correction questions – my old nemesis on that PSAT that I took, I think with a little more grammar study I might be alright) and there’s not much you can do to study for that section. It’s all good though, I still have the decision to make of where I want to take the test…there is a testing center in La Paz, but I think I might be more comfortable if I took a vacation back to the States and took it there (or that could totally backfire and I actually might be better off taking the test here in my little Bolivian bubble). Vamos a ver.