When planning out the details of this project I wanted find a way to take the information I would be learning from my frog research and relate that knowledge back to the community in a meaningful way. The most obvious way to do this seemed to be to get involved with the local schools, teaching children about frogs and conservation. Looking back on these broad and lofty goals now, nearing the end of my time in Peru, I cannot help but smile at the idealism that I expressed in these statements and am sure all DukeEngagers get caught up in while proposing their projects.
As can be expected from this type of project, not everything went exactly according to plan. I was told that Villa Carmen was the perfect place to combine frog research and interaction with the community because it is located near a small town and working with the school there, and even schools in surrounding communities would be relatively easy. While that statement was not all together inaccurate, I was not told that no researchers had actually done this sort of thing before.
Recently Villa Carmen has been trying to improve its relationship with the community and not just be its own bubble on the outskirts of town. After being on site for a few weeks I started talking to people at the station about getting involved at the school. They all agreed that this was a great idea and would be an excellent way to share the knowledge that university educated researchers bring to the station with children form a very rural part of the country, practically none of whom would continue education after high school. We then set up a meeting with the director of the local school to talk about what I wanted to do and how volunteers from Villa Carmen can be more involved there in the future. After the meeting got delayed several times, a group of other volunteers and I met with him last Wednesday. He was very excited about what we were proposing and, after looking at his calendar for several minutes, he asks me if I could come in on Thursday. I quickly checked my watch to double check the date, yes it was Wednesday, he was indeed talking about tomorrow. I replied the only way I could, “Si, yo puedo hacerlo.”
If I tried to relate everything that has happened since that meeting in one blog post I would end up writing an essay that no one would actually read. To avoid that unfortunate situation I will be publishing another post in the near future about my debut as a guest lecturer at the elementary school!