Earlier this month, I was invited by my country director to participate in a Intercultural
Diversity and Inclusion Training. So two Saturdays ago, I packed my bags and hopped on 20 hours bus ride to Lima for a week diversity goodness.
The training days were 9-5 for the entire work week, and although the days were long and tiring, it was really an awesome experience. Being able to come together with other volunteers and PC Peru staff members to share stories and perspectives was something that was truly invaluable. We talked about everything from machista, racism, LGBTQ issues, classism, micro-agressions and so much more. The great thing about it was that everybody from the language trainers (who only work during PST) to the Medical Staff (our doctors) up to the Country Director were present at the training. Not only did I learn how to be a better ally to other volunteers but it also opened my eyes to how hard it can be for Peruvian staff members who are also walking the cultural adaptation tightrope when trying to support American volunteers. The point of this training was to see where we are at as an organization in terms of dealing with Intercultural competency (on both staff and volunteer sides) in order to incorporate these themes in a new Pre-Service Training (PST) model for futures training groups.
I don’t mean for the post to be long or to go into every detail of the training but I did want to say that if I could pick one word to describe the way this past week made me feel it would be lucky. I am lucky because I am apart of an organization that is making diversity and inclusion a priority. They’re not simply having one training and wiping their hands
clean – they’re actively trying to incorporate these themes into the way PC Peru operates. I am lucky because I am part of an organization of people who are willing to be vulnerable for the betterment of the entire organization. Hearing personal and powerful stories from staff members was probably my favorite part. I finished the training feeling more connected and understanding the staff point of view. And finally I am really lucky because I was able to get to know a great group of volunteers which I probably would have otherwise never known (Peru has about 200 volunteers and you could easily go through your entire service without knowing the vast majority of them). It was always fun to hang out with them after the training day and stuff out face with anything that wasn’t rice or potatoes, to share a drink (or two) and to share lots of laughs. So yes, I am extremely lucky as a current volunteer to have such a supportive group of staff members behind me and so are any of the future PC Peru trainees who will reap the benefits of the ICDI training in the new PST model.
We aren’t where we need to be but it’s comforting to know that we are making the conscious effort to walk in the right direction and that’s something I absolutely do not take for granted.