Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Learning to Speak like a Local

One of the main things I wanted in a job was ample opportunities for training and/or education, and Peace Corps has certainly delivered! Though not all of our trainings are mandatory, I like to attend as many as possible. Not only do you gain relevant experience and skills, but you get paid to spend time with your friends in a new environment. It's really a win-win situation. 

This past week I attended a Ngäbere training. Ngäbere is the native language of the indigenous Ngäbe people, and since my people will still use it, especially among older generations, I was excited to learn more than just the basic greetings I had been using. 

Training was held in another volunteer's site in the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé (reservation for the Ngäbe and Buglé people) so that we could really practice what we were learning each day. Though the language is still used in other parts of the country, it's nowhere as widely used as in the reservation. Our host volunteer, Adam, speaks awesome Ngäbere, and arranged for each of us to live with host families in his community. 

My family lived very simply in a zinc house with a mud floor and no amenities.  They cooked their food over a fire each day and farm to support themselves and the 6 of 10 children that are still living at home.  

Each day we had class from 8 am until noon and then participated in a shorter session in the afternoon before ending the day with hiking, river swimming, and hanging out with our new friends and families.  One of the coolest parts was finally getting to finish and wear my nakua (local dress) with the help of my friend Zoe's host mom, Echila.  More on that project in my next post!

To end the week, we performed a local dance and retold the story of the Tortoise and the Hare in Ngäbere, which I'm sure was a comical sight despite our best efforts.  Despite the challenges of living in harsher conditions than we're used to and the potential contraction of yet another internal parasite, it was great week with great people... and keep your eye out for a post on Ngäbere!  Until then, jatuita!

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