Before I and the rest of Group 73 can be sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers, we have to go through a pretty intense 9 week training program referred to as PST (Pre-Service Training). Though there’s no way we can learn everything we need to know for the next two years, PST is filled with language classes, technical training, field trips, and other random training sessions to provide us with a pretty solid foundation.
Mas o menos, Saturdays and Sundays are for field trips and free time while Monday-Friday are full of trainings and classes. Usually class days go something like this:
3:30 am: Roosters start crowing
6:30 am: Get tired of listening to the roosters and finally get up
7:30 am: Breakfast
8 am-12 pm: Spanish Class
12 pm- 1 pm: Lunch with our host families
1pm- 5 pm: Technical Training (Tropical agriculture, project planning, agri-business)
5:30ish: Dinner with host families
6 pm-7 pm: Hang out with other PCTs and local kids
7 pm: Bucket shower in the last few minutes before it gets dark
8 pm-9 pm: Homework, reading, games on my iPod
We were given a calendar overview of training a few days ago, and it looks like there are some pretty cool things coming up.
Next week (Week 2) I’ll be spending four days shadowing a volunteer who works on a cacao plantation in a gorgeous region called Bocas del Toro, which I doubt I could be anymore excited about. Chocolate is pretty much my favorite thing ever.
Then during week 4 we’ll be traveling back to Bocas del Toro as a group for Tech Week, during which we’ll get to practice all of the agriculture techniques we’ve been learning. We’ll also get specialized training in the production, management, and business of specific Panamanian staple crops like coffee, cacao, and plantains.
Finally, after hearing our site placements (where we will be working for the next two years!) in Week 6, we’ll each spend week 7 in our future village getting to know our future co-workers, host families, and community members.
Then we’ll have another week of training in our current village, a week to wrap up everything in Panama City, and it will be time to be sworn in as official Peace Corps Volunteers!