The following post is from Brady Gilliam, a 2014 Global Gap Year Fellow. UNC’s Global Gap Year Fellowship is housed in and staffed by the Campus Y. Find out more about the fellowship on our GGYF Facebook page!
Today I’ve been really sick – I think it must be some sort of flu, and it hit me so hard that I’ve been unable to teach all day. However, this gives me a perfect opportunity to write that blog I promised I’d do this week! So, we now have nine volunteers in the house, which gives the school days a pleasantly noisy, bustling feel. We are all very close with each other, and thankfully get along very well. We act as each others’ support nets, often working together and collaborating on lessons. The more practice I get, the better my classes and classroom presence becomes, and I can see the other volunteers improving day-by-day as well. Our classes have all been shuffled around quite a lot since we’ve added so many new teachers in such a short time, as well as because Peruvian elementary and high schools have just begun for the school year, so I’ve (sadly) lost a few of my favorite students, who have been moved into different classes to accommodate their changing schedules. Despite missing them in class, I’m excited to meet some new students and begin developing relationships with them – it’s always rewarding to start from the bottom and watch their English skills grow.
Carnival (Peruvian Mardi Gras) in Cajamarca turned out to be crazy! I’d never seen anything like it – it felt as if literally the entire town had come out to walk in the day- long parade, during which everyone fought to splatter each other with various substances, soaking everyone around them with the contents of buckets of paint, water balloons, talcum powder bags, and squirt guns. At one point, as people began to run out of paint, they took to filling their buckets with water from the gutter and hurling it into the crowd. Scores of locals banged out beats on drums, while others played squeaky renditions the traditional Carnaval tune on horns and trumpets, crowds around them roaring the lyrics and dancing wildly, drinking copious quantities of Pisco and wine (and
probably paint). By the end, all the Horizon Volunteers were shivering and caked head-to-toe in thick, colorful paint. Unfortunately, our showers that evening were ice-cold, and no matter how long we spent scrubbing, the paint caked into hard-to-reach areas stubbornly remained. When we returned to La Esperanza (the district of trujillo we live in) and our little school, our students were all eager to hear our stories of Carnaval, and I think most of them took a lot of satisfaction from our shock at how “loco” it had been. Gotta hand it to these Peruvians – they know how to throw a party.
In other news, since my gap year will be coming to an end in one month, I’ve been thinking a lot about university and the subject matter I want to study. I’ve come to a tentative decision to double-major in psychology and romance languages: Spanish, with a minor in medical anthropology. I’ve been thinking I might like to pursue some sort of profession in psychology, but of course I’m still not completely sure. We’ll see how next year goes. I’ve also began searching for a roommate, which feels pretty strange, but also very exciting. It’s pretty funny to see people’s reactions when they hear what I’ve done this past year – the truth is, my story sounds pretty crazy to me, too.
So here I am, looking back on the greatest accomplishment and most incredible journey of my life so far, thinking about what lies ahead for me. As I wrap up my gap year and mentally prepare myself to enter university and return to the United States, I’ll be writing about what I’m going to take from this experience to apply to my life back home (subject for my next blog). I’ll write again soon.