Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Down to Business

I woke up at 6:30 to go to Mass at 7:00. We are staying at Benedictine Nuns Convent and it is Ash Wednesday so they had Mass this morning. Since many St. Lucians are Catholic, I think it will be good for me to get used to Catholic services. They have a beautiful little sanctuary here that is has gate-like walls so there is lots of airflow. The supports are made of stone and the roof is tall and wooden with beams. The altar is one giant rock with seats surrounding it for the nuns. I think it will take me a while to acclimate to the various customs of the Catholic Church, but there is a peace and rich feeling that comes with all the ceremony.

Some of you have been asking what the weather is like right now. It is amazingly really nice. It’s actually quite cool. We are located near the coast, so there is a good breeze. Also, even though it is dry season, it has been raining a lot. It comes in strong waves and passes as quickly as it comes. So it alternates from sunny to cloudy all day long, and I have noticed that everyone carries umbrellas wherever they go. They are saying it is going to get a lot drier and hotter here soon.

Today was the beginning of training and we have covered a lot so far. One of the first things we did was receive our assignments!! I am so excited to say that I will be working with the Red Cross!! Currently the Red Cross here works on volunteer development/ management, community disaster preparedness programs, heath education (first aid, CPR, HIV/AIDS), disaster relief assistance, youth activities in schools and communities, and fundraising. I will specifically be working to assist in: developing programs for youth groups in schools and communities (HIV/AIDS and health education), developing the skills of young persons to become Peer Educators, providing life skills training for youth, and working with the school groups to strengthen their capacity and networks with other groups. I am really looking forward to this assignment! I didn’t think they would be telling us our assignment till the end of our two-month training, so this was a great surprise. I’m sure some of you are happy to learn more specifics about what I will be doing, too.

We also got introduced to all the staff. I have a lot of names to learn! They all seem so friendly and welcoming, which is comforting. We got a lot of papers about schedules and goals and rules. We even have a few small homework assignments for the evening. We covered safety and security basics. We will be covering more specific topics in the future. The last item of the day was a small informational session with the Medical Officers about vaccinations to come.

I also learned that we are EC 79. That means we are the 79th Peace Corps group to come to the Eastern Caribbean. Exciting! We will be here to greet the 80th! I’m really looking forward to meeting more of the Volunteers who have been here for a while. I hope that I get to learn about what everyone is doing.

Other random things… the archbishop of Kenya is staying in the convent where we are staying. And the light switches are opposite (down and is on, up is off).

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