Posted by: Ali | July 30, 2009

Training, and what it is that I actually DO

And the training continues. There is so much I have to prepare for!

First they drilled me on safety procedures. I was given a thick policy manual on what to do in various situations, including but not limited to:

  • Volunteer missing
  • Volunteer arrested
  • Natural disaster
  • Coup d’etat

I feel so much better already knowing that they have thought of these things in advance.

Then we talked about my responsibilities while in the country.  I actually am really excited about the job and how I’ll have all sorts of different things to do.  So the first Friday of every month new volunteers arrive, and the following week is Orientation.  I will only be running part of Orientation week, just the things about culture shock and the volunteers’ placements.  The rest will be run (I think) by a girl by the name of Ana Maria, who is a native of Peru.  She will be running the elements related to local culture.  For example: how to get around in the city, cultural dos and don’ts, local food, and other things you might need to get used to.  In Peru, for instance, you are not to flush toilet paper down the toilet, instead, you put it in a garbage can.  Now you know.

At the end of Orientation Week, I take the volunteers to their placements, or stick them on a bus or plane if they are going to be staying in another city.  The rest of the duration of their stay I check up on them about once a week, and deal with problems that come up like people getting ill or being homesick, or not fitting in with their placement.

Obviously it looks like I have far less to do for the other three weeks of the month, but that is not the case!  One of my first big tasks is to revisit every NGO that we do placements with, take pictures, put them on the website, take notes and find out exactly what they want volunteers to do.  That way I have an easier job of matching up incoming volunteers to a place that needs them, and the volunteers know exactly what they’ll be getting into before they even leave, which theoretically maximizes the utility of the volunteer.

Once I’m done that, I get to start talking to new NGOs to try to create new placement options for volunteers, so that more people will want to come to Peru.  I’m also supposed to try and market the center as a hostel to try to get some beds filled during the slow season.  Besides all of that, my job of matching up actual volunteers to actual placements begins two months before they arrive.

In conclusion, it sure looks like I’ll have plenty of stuff to do!


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