A view of the pillars

Life as a JV in Tacna has been difficult.  We´re passing 8 weeks here and I have yet to really feel like a volunteer.  But the difficulty has not be in the living of life…I have done a lot of that…but rather in living in accordance with the values we ascribed to when we applied/were accepted as a Jesuit Volunteer.   The values we seek to live out fall into 4 categories: Community, Simple Living, Social Justice, and Spirituality.  While under normal circumstances living these ideals in community is difficult given the difference of opinions that exist in communities as well as the difficulties of living in another country, but for me in Tacna there have been even more obstacles.  We´ve been tasked with the job of setting up a new community in Andahuaylillas, but we have yet to set foot in Andahuaylillas.  Instead we have been living in Tacna, with host families, for the past 2 months.  While it has been really useful for my Spanish skills, and for understanding some of Peruvian culture, it has made it difficult to live as a JV.   To better organize my thoughts, I´m going to go according to the pillars of JVC.

Community has meant different things these past 2 months, and I think that the 2 different meanings will continue to exist even as we move into Andahuaylillas and make it our home.   Here in Tacna more dominating meaning of community has been that of my host family.  I have spent 6 weeks living with a family in Tacna.  They are the people that I have seen every day and spent the most time with while in Peru.  I love them, they´re amazing people and have really taught me a lot…about a lot of things.  The only reason it will be difficult to leave Tacna is because of my host family.  But with this form of community, it makes it difficult to have the other form, the form which JVC seeks to create, namely a community of volunteers.  The difficulty here is that we don´t live together.  We don´t see each other every day.  And one of us is even living in the States for January…so it´s been difficult.   To add to this, we have been watching the Tacna volunteers begin to form their community (both with each other in their own house, and with their neighbors who will be their neighbors for the next 2 years).  While I can´t fault them for doing what only seems natural, especially given that they have all moved into the community house here, it makes it a bit more difficult being on the outside.  When all 7 of the new Peru volunteers were living with host families, it was easier…

But you can´t really change the hand you´re dealt.  And I signed up for this.  I wanted to help start a new community in a new location.  I just never realized how difficult these three months would be with regards to community, nor did I realize how important the idea of forming a community among the 5 of us that will be in Cusco would be to me.   We´ve done our best to work towards an idea of community, but It hasn´t been easy….I´m excited and ready for the work in Cusco.

Simple Living
This also has been complicated given the living situation.  My host family certainly did not sign up for a life of simple living when they invited me into their home.  So I have been living at their life style which is not the simple life style of the volunteers.  While we certainly aren´t overly extravagant at my house, we are very well to do in Tacna.  Living with my host family has also clouded what I thought it meant to live simply.  Is living simply supposed to be in the things we have?  Or is it more in the way we live?  Should we do away with all the things in life to get to the “purest” form, or is it more in how we live with each other?  My family here always has someone coming through the house to chat.  They spend a lot of time talking and being with people.  They live simply, meaning without too much complication, but they have internet, a microwave, a washing machine, and other things that might not fit the definition of simple.  Just something to keep in mind as we move to Andahuaylillas in February.

Social Justice
What does this mean?  I really have no way to judge what this would even look like here in Peru yet.  How do you do justice in a society you don´t understand?  I think again, I simply have to wait until I understand where I am better and what it is that I will do once I get to Andahuaylillas.   For now, I can only be present to those I am with.  And once January 9th comes, then I´ll be on Mission Month with 53 high school boys…that surly has to count somewhere in this column?

This is the easiest to articulate because it comes from a language deficit.  One of the surprises that I wasn´t expecting was the frustration I would have in mass.  Going to mass for me is something that I draw strength from.  And when the language shifted from English to Spanish I lost something.  At first it was difficult to even understand what was being said (I knew what was going on by the fact that mass works the same in all languages).  I didn´t get anything from the homilies and I missed a lot.  It was tough for a while, but now that my Spanish is improving I´m getting more from mass and the difficulties here are subsiding.   There is more to type here…but time is always getting shorter.

In summary of this I think the word is: Unsettled (thanks Walter for the word).  Life has yet to settle down, and it won´t for another few months.  Patience is something that I don´t usually have a lot of, but I´m learning a bit more about it every day: patience with myself, with my surrounding, with the Tacna Volunteers, with my community (however you define this).


A belated Christmas update…

Hola todos,

Sorry for the delay in this post…while it seems like I have all the time in the world, it also seems to fly faster here than it does back home.  Going to work on New Years too, and also some other things to post before I leave on Sunday for Mission Month where I won´t have access to anything really.

Noche Buena…Christmas Eve
In doing things that aren´t typical (like being in South America for Christmas) we decided to take a 1.5 hour car ride up to Tarata.  Those of us who went were Mo, Mo´s family, Jessica, myself, and two of our neighbors in Habitat Martin and Edith.  Tacna sits about 20km from the coast and while we can see the mountains from where we are, we most certainly are not in the mountains.   But after a lengthy car ride we had made it a long ways (i don´t know how far exactly) and we had climbed more than 3000 meters (roughly 10,000 ft).  It was a gorgeous ride and nice to get out of the desert and see lots of vegetation.

After arriving we checked out the church  and sung by the market to grab some bread for the day and maybe explore the possibility of getting some breakfast.  Being Xmas eve there werne´t many vendors or people in the market, but fortunately there was the bathroom attendant who didn´t take the day off.  Paid my 50 cents and got my paper so that I could do my business…you have to take advantage of these opportunities when you aren´t sure the next time you´re going to be given the opportunity to go.  Not that I would have minded popping a squat in a farm or along the trail as we were hiking, I just thought it would be better in the present company to get my business out-of-the-way.

The hike was beautiful…and I hope to show pictures at some point, but as for now you just get the words.  We hiked down into a valley, crossed a river, and back up the other side.  It was so much fun to get out of the desert and see some real vegetation.  And it even rained a bit…the real kind of rain, not the puny mist that has happened twice in the last 8 weeks here in Tacna.   This also gave me time to enjoy the presence of other gringos…sometimes you just need a break from the

One of the cool things we got to see on this hike were the ruins, well not really ruins ruins but the bases of long defunct granaries the Incas used to store food once harvested.   They were well up on an opposing mountain side so we didn´t get to explore them, but non-the-less still cool.  The other really interesting thing was up in some “caves.”  Really just some massive boulders and rocks overhanging the trail which we climbed up in between…but in there exists an altar to Mother Earth (pachamama) as was explained by our guides from Habitat.  There were a bunch of bones on the altar left from the various animals that had been sacrificed for the blessing of the earth upon the harvests in the region.

After reaching the far side and climbing up through the rocks we got to hang out on top of the side of a mini-mountain while we waited for a taxi to take us up another 15 min to the Baños Termales.  Here I played with the panoramic function on my camera and hopefully it turns out well…but again, at the moment I don´t have the pictures with me.  It was unbelievably gorgeous and made me really excited for our home in Andahuaylillas which is quite nicely nestled in a valley with many mountains.

The Baños were a great way to end the day trip into the mountains…it allowed for us to relax in on the side of a mountain in a bath heated by the flowing magma beneath the Andes Mountains.  So relaxing to be in the aura of the mountains and relax in a bath.

After getting back to Tacna, I took advantage of a few free hours in the day to take a nap before the evening festivities.  Mass was at 7:30 in Habitat with the Jesuits.  It was jammed packed which was a change from the normal Sunday mass.  Granted many people had traveled down from Tacna (about 15 min by bus to the north) to go to the Jesuit Christmas mass, but it was still a cool feeling to be in a standing-room-only Christmas eve mass.  To close the mass the Jesuits had all who spoke different languages to give a short merry Christmas message.  Languages included among the audience were: Spanish, Aymara, Quechua, French, and English…pretty cool to be in such a diverse crowd and a nice way to bridge some of the language gaps.

After mass we went around Habitat with Fr. Fred and delivered a few Christmas baskets for some families that wouldn´t really have a Christmas dinner…the families had been chosen by Fr. Fred and we were just along to sing carols and be present to the gifting.  Once this was accomplished we made for the center of the city with everyone else.  Many of the volunteers were going to one family´s house, but I was headed off in a different direction to spend the evening with my host family.

Christmas here works a lot like New Years in the States.  The night before is more important than the day of.  There is a countdown to midnight.  There are fireworks, lots and lots of illegal fireworks.  We toast champagne.

Dinner was served around 11pm and the mass in the Vatican was put on the TV behind the table.  But we promptly interrupted the Pope when it got close to midnight to listen to the radio and the countdown to midnight.  But we didn´t really need a countdown, as you could tell when it was midnight by the amount of fireworks outside.   There is no “official” fireworks display for the city of Tacna, but I don´t think it´d be necessary.  Everyone thinks they´re an expert and everyone buys their own fireworks to shoot off.  It was quite a sight as everyone in the neighborhood was shooting off fireworks and all you had to do was stand in the middle of the plaza in front of our house and look in any direction to see a colorful display.

After a while the fireworks started to die down and we all went back inside to sit, converse, and open presents.  My family isn´t huge on the presents deal, or at least I didn´t see it Christmas Eve…but my sisters did get a Wii at their grandparents house which probably was the doing of their parents.  And then the visiting began.  The way it works is you chat with your family and guests for a while and then go out to visit other families and friends.  I didn´t understand how this would work because if everyone goes out, then there is no one at home to be visited.  But we were one family that was to stay put…my grandmom didn´t want to or need to or for some reason didn´t travel so we had some friends visit us.  My sisters and dad went to their grandparents´ house to spend the night around 2am.  And around 3am our visitors had all left and I got to go to bed.

Christmas day
A bit more tranquil, but we hosted a lunch with a lot of people.  It was fun though and they put me in charge of the grill (a real honor given the importance of the meat)…I think that the grandfather used to the one in charge and since he died in March they haven´t really used the grill…but we used it for the pork on Christmas.  It´d been marinating for 3 days and was amazing…my grilling skills didn´t really make a difference given the excellence in the preparation beforehand (of which I had nothing to do with).

And that was Christmas…

Day by Day

Day by day…like play by play, but with broader strokes.

This past week was filled with meetings and Charlas (chats) around the city of Tacna.  We got to see all the places that JVs will be working and then some.  It was a great opportunity for us to get a feel for all of the Jesuit works in Tacna.  I could write whole entries about each, but here are snippits.

Miguel Pro
Founded in the 80´s in the Habitat community where the JVs live.  Serves many students from poor families and the majority of students come from the Habitat community.  It is an incredibly warm and welcoming envrionment and the students seem to enjoy being here.  It is a typical Jesuit school in the sense that the over-arching goal is development of the whole person and not simply what the students can regurgitate in class.  The school motto is ¨Simpre más alto¨ or ¨Always higher¨…essentially you can always be more or be a better human being.  We never stop developing and no one achieves perfection.  This hopefully becomes ingrained into the students, and pushes them to break the cycle of poverty and avoid the drugs and alcohol you find on the streets.  Cost is 18 soles (2.78 soles to the dollar) per month for the first child in a family, 5 soles for the second, and the third+ go for free.

Colegio Cristo Rey
More of an upper class school run by the Jesuits.  Founded almost 50 years ago by Fr. Fred.  It has grown so much in the last 50 years and is now a model of education around the world.  The Cristo Rey netowork of schools (many found in the US as well) was modeled after the one here in Tacna.  The school is known for academic excellence and they kids are wicked smart.  The English instruction there is also really good…the kids are really capable in their english skills.  The cost here is 300 soles per month I think.

Fe y Alegría
Another school founded in part by Fr. Fred…This one is currently run by the sisters of St. Joeseph and it had quite a different feel to it. The education level isn´t quite the same as Cristo Rey, but the relationships between the students and the teachers seems to be much friendlier.  There wasn´t as much distance between the two.  And the sisters are so amazing.  They are warm and welcoming and every student knows that they´re in a safe place because of the caringness of the environment. Or at least that´s how it seemed when we visited.  I´ll know more later this week since we´re going back to talk more about the campus ministry there.

Centro Cristo Rey de Niño Trabajador
I don´t know too much about this place because we were only there for a few hours and no one gave us the overview necessary to really get a good feel for the place, but just threw us in with the mix.  We ate lunch with the secondary kids and then played with the primary kids on the playground.  Later we all got placed into classrooms to help outfor a bit.  I was inthe special needs class and it was cool to watch.  I wasn´t able to do much, but I got a good feel for how the class worked.  We´re going to go back next week to talk more about the mission there and all the other work that they do.

Social situations…

In the last week we´ve been to a going away party and 2 birthday parties (one of which we hosted at the house since there were 3 birthdays last week).  The rate at which parties is occuring is definitely not normal the JVs here assure us.  But some interesting social notes for you:

1) Peruvians always greet everyone in a room when they enter.  They do the same when they leave.  If a man is greeting a man they will shake hands.  If a woman and man are greeting they will kiss on the cheek.  The same goes for woman greeting woman.  It is a very friendly tradition and makes for a much more inviting experience. (Think about all those parties you´ve been to where someone walks in and you don´t know who they are and you aren´t introduced to them…and then you have to talk to them…it can be awkward.)  The only awkardness comes when you kiss instead of handshake.  After a day here I had mostly met different women and become accustomed to kissing as a greeting.  And so we were walking into a man´s house when I went for the kiss instead of the hand shake.  It made for an awkward greeting and experience, and for a brief bit of time I was referred to as Señor suave…fortunately that did not last. 

2) Most Peruvians at parties have wine or beer to drink. Es igual…we do the same thing.  The difference is how they drink it.  There is typically only one or two bottles of wine or beer open at a time and there is a glass associated with each.  The glass is about the size of a double shot.  Most times you´re in some sort of circle or something similar, and the wine/glass combo is passed around the circle coming from your left and moving to your right.   

If you´re standing next to a man you will pour yourself a glass and pass the bottle.  Then you are welcome to take your time sipping your wine, or you may drink it more like a shot…both are acceptable ways of drinking your wine.  You then pass the glass to your right. 

If you are standing next to a woman you first ask her if she would like some wine. (Women don´t pour for themselves in Peruvian society and a man is expected to ask if she would like some)  If she wants a glass, then the man pours her a ¨moderate¨ amount of wine.  If too much is poured people will question your intentions with the woman…like ¨Oh, oh..are you trying to make her tipsy??¨ But if too little is poured the woman may scoff and be upset at the amount poured.  So you pour a ¨moderate¨ amount. 

On the whole, things here are going well.  It feels like an immersion trip for the most part and not like I´m living here.  Some of that is due to the fact that I´m not actually living in Tacna; I´m moving to Andahuaylillas in 3 months…and some of it is due to the fact that all we´ve been doing is meeting people and learning things and trying new foods.  But in time that feeling will disappear. 

A little outline of the next few weeks: visiting all the sites the Jesuits work with in Tacna this week.  Moving in with my host family on Saturday where I will live for the next 5 weeks.  Starting next monday I will be spending a week at each of the placements Jesuits work getting a feel for their works.  I´ll be focusing on campus ministry and pastoral care aspects of the sites since that is close to what I´ll be doing in Anda come Feb.

Thanks for reading!  Will write more soon…
Also, if you´re interested in getting more information the blogs of mi compañeros are along the right side of the page…

Contact information in Peru!

The time has come…I leave on Tuesday!  So here are some ways for you to stay in touch with me while I’m in Peru:

My email will still work, you can write to me at samuel.w.hay@gmail.com and I should be able to check that every so often, but there are no guarantees with my web access.

We’re should also be able to use Skype from time to time…the name with that is Samuel.hay

Mail!  I love mail, and if you write to me then I will write to you.   But there are some things to keep in mind with what you send to me…here is what Cara told us about mailing things to Peru:

Sending packages to Perú: Anything weighing less than 3 pounds can be sent through the mail with an official slip (green) that you get at the post office. Packages with this slip will arrive in a short period of time (1-3 weeks) without going through customs. Tell whoever might be sending you packages to insist upon this slip (reports say that the post office usually thinks some other manner is better–do not believe it!!) Write educational material, no value on the slip. It will arrive without going through customs, which happens to be a Latin American bureaucratic hassle of immense proportions. Also, with smaller packages we avoid a trip to Cusco to pick them up.

My address from November 2010 to January 2011 is:

Sam Hay
Jesuit Volunteers
Colegio Cristo Rey
APDO 120
Tacna, Peru

And my address from February 2011 – December 2012 is:

P. Oscar Morelli, SJ
Sam Hay
Triunfo 339, Apartado 276
Cusco, Peru


I would love to hear from you!

Una Presentación para PDS

El jueves pasado yo les di una presentación a los estudiantes in las clases de Español cuatro.  La idea de la presentación fue la vida después de Providence Day (mi escuela) y como llegué aquí.   Para ustedes voy a publicar poco de la presentación…la tiene 2,000 palabras, entonces no voy a incluir todo, solo los partes más buenos.  Muchas gracias a Sr. Barron y Carolyn para toda la ayuda!


Cuando estaba en sus zapatos, pensaba de todo.  Cuando me gradué de Providence Day quería ser profesor de matemáticas y también existía una posibilidad de que enseñara aquí en Providence Day.  Miren esta foto de superlativo…fui elegido el alumno con más posibilidad de trabajar algún día en PD. Pensaba que pasaría 4 años en la universidad, y que luego regresaría a Charlotte.  Pero nada va precisamente como uno lo imagina,  y estoy aquí hablando de lo que voy a hacer y como llegué a este momento.

En un viaje de inmersión {estuve hablando de Cuernavaca aquí}, hay que escuchar mucho, y la atención es tan importante como la acción.  Porque nosotros éramos estadounidenses, no teníamos la autoridad para hacer nada.  Cuernavaca no era nuestra comunidad, entonces nosotros no podíamos hacer nada para ellos porque ellos tienen que  hacer para ellos mismos.  Si nosotros hubiéramos hecho algo para la comunidad, era posible que la acción pareciera imperialista.  Pero pudimos caminar con ellos en sus luchas, es decir observar y acompañar para mejor comprender su situación diaria.  Muchas veces es mejor caminar con alguien en vez de ayudar.

Antes de mi viaje a Cuernavaca nunca había pensado en ni  Jesucristo ni sus enseñanzas.  Claro que sí, yo sabía de Él, pero no lo conocía.  Para mí, Sólo era una figura en la Biblia.  Pero, aprendí por los encuentros en Cuernavaca.  Yo sé que la historia de Jesús Cristo es más que una historia…es una moda de vida.  La gente allá vive con el conocimiento de algo más grande como si mismo.  Entonces, estudié la teología e hice todo lo que pude para aprender más.   No puedo describir todo de lo que  pienso/siento…una razón es que hablo en español, pero en ingles no puedo describir todo tampoco.  Pues, el año pasado me hice socio de La Iglesia Católica.   Es un movimiento del Espíritu, y no sé adónde me lleva.

{Después de explicar Los Voluntarios Jesuitas, expliqué nuestros trabajaos…}

Yo trabajaré en la parroquia con los programas de preparación sacramental—La preparación para confirmación y primero comunión.  También la parroquia tiene una cafetería para los estudiantes en la escuela que no pueden regresar a casa para almorzar porque viven demasiado lejos.  Una de mis compañeras trabajará conmigo.  Es posible que ella vaya a trabajar con el ministerio de música.  Los Jesuitas quieren empezar otros programas también.  Uno es de Alcohólicos Anónimos.  Hay muchas posibilidades para nosotros en este lugar y nada esta cierto.  Mis otros compañeros van a trabajar en la escuela del pueblo. Van a enseñar inglés y también trabajarán en el ministerio del campus.  También, porque las dos (la iglesia y la escuela) están cerca, nosotros podremos trabajar en el otro lugar.  ¡Es posible que vaya a enseñar matemáticas en la escuela!

Pero nuestros trabajos no van a cambiar las situaciones políticas o finánciales… Para mí, quiero compartir experiencias. Nuestra meta como voluntarios no es cambiar el mundo para ellos, sino simplemente acompañarles en su camino y aprender de su cultura. Hay tanto que puedo aprender de la gente peruana, y trabajamos y vivimos con intención y sin ningún lujo para poder entender la perspectiva suya, que es completamente distinta que la nuestra, que tenemos simplemente por ser “americanos.” El único cambio que espero hacer en Andahuaylillas es a través de las relaciones personales. Como resultado de estar allí construyendo relaciones personales con la gente, seré impactado en maneras que no puedo imaginar, y ojalá mi presencia les ayude en alguna manera.


Hay más partes de la presentación, pero este es basta….

35 Days and Counting…

November 9, 2010 at 11am I will depart Charlotte.  My first stop is Miami where I will meet up with all 7 of the Peru volunteers seen here:

The ‘P’ is Rose, the ‘E’ is Mateo and Mallory, the ‘R’ is Jess and Greg, and the ‘U’ is Ashlen and me.  There are some more pictures of us at the bottom of this post!

We will then travel on to Lima together and from there to Tacna on the southern border with Chile.   On this map I highlighted Lima, Cusco (Andahuaylillas is only about 45km south), and Tacna.

So my life in Peru will begin in Tacna.  One of the problems with starting a new community is that there is no one there to receive you and give you an in-country orientation.   JVC has decided that the four of us destined for Anda will start with 3 months in Tacna.   We will be able to do some serious language training as we grow accustomed to the Peruvian culture.  our first 6-8 weeks will be in a home stay.  Each of us in a different home so that we are forced to immerse ourselves.  The current Tacna JVs will be looking out for us I am sure, but they probably have to take care of their own things.  (We really don’t have many details about the whole process…but we do know the broad strokes)

After our weeks in home stays we will travel out into the campo with 2 of the local high schools JVC works with in Tacna for Mes de Misión. Literally Mission Month or Month of Mission.  We will go out with the high school students on a month long service trip.  I don’t know exactly what our capacity on these trips will be since I’ll probably still be working to learn the language…and I’m comfortable with high school students, but high school students in a different culture in a language I’m not fully comfortable with doesn’t exactly sound easy.  But then again its JVC, and I’m supposed to be challenged.  So I am looking forward to this experience because I will undoubtedly learn a lot of Spanish and a lot of about Peruvian high school students.

At the conclusion of January the Anda Crew will move up to our permanent location just south of Cusco.  Our living situation sounds pretty nice from what we’ve heard.  It’s a house associated with the Parish that has been used to house short term volunteers who come to Anda. (Which apparently there seem to be a number of them.)  We will move into the house and make it our own, but we will be responsible for welcoming incoming volunteers and housing them in our extra rooms.  Margaret (my JVC handler of sorts) made it sound like it was incredibly spacious with lots extra rooms.

As far as work placements go, that is still a bit more uncertain.  Margaret and Dan (other JVC support person) are headed down to Peru in a few weeks to check everything out and get things squared away so we will know more then.  But right now it looks like the local school (Fe y Alegría) and the Parish both have two positions for us.  Both positions include quite a bit freedom to expand and explore different aspects of the locations.  The school is looking for English instructors, Campus Ministers, and it sounds like they have some need in the math department too.   The parish runs a cafeteria for students at the school who travel from too far away to go home for lunch.  It is looking for someone to work with sacramental preparation (first communion, confirmation), help plan retreats for faith/student/parishioner formation, work with music ministry, and all sorts of other things.  From the sound of it the Parish is looking to expand a provide a lot more social services to its community…things like AA meetings and the like.

Right now it looks like Jess and I will be in the parish with Mateo and Mallory in the School.  But again, there is room for a lot of over lap and it looks like I would be able to teach a class at the school while also working in the Parish, and Mateo could work with music ministry at the Parish while teaching at the school.   It should be a TON of excitement and fun and challenges.

And with that…here are more pictures of my community:

”]And a more exciting picture of the 4 of us!

Those living in Tacna - Ashlen, Rose, and Greg