Throughout our two years in the Peace Corps we have about 4 organized trainings aside from the 11-week one in Lima. In March all of the business volunteers from Peru 23, the group that I arrived with last June, met in Cajamarca for a weeklong training on small business advising and income generating activities.
Although Cajamarca is my regional capitol, I am about 9 hours away and don’t really fancy the trek down there. It was really fun to see everyone in one place and also get to explore the city a little more. Cajamarca is known for the Incan baths that have supposed healing powers, and the artisanal work that can be found on every corner. It is also the city where the last Inca was held captive by the Spanish in a room that he promised to fill with gold in exchange for his freedom, but was instead killed.
Our training was from 8:30-5pm everyday and it was surprisingly really fun! The first half of the week we learned about small business consulting in Peru and were given the task to meet with a business in Cajamarca for two days and conduct a diagnostic and then identify some areas of improvement and prepare a short workshop for the owners.
We worked in pairs, and my partner and I chose to work with a small music academy! If you know anything about me you know that I majored in classical music and have taught piano for years, so you can only imagine my excitement!! (Shout out to Katy Music Studio and the amazing Diane!)
The studio is a small two story old house and they offer piano, voice, guitar, saxophone, drums, flute, clarinet, and mariachi lessons. They have been open for almost a decade and were one of the first studios to appear in Cajamarca. The guys who run the place are musicians who have a real passion for cultivating the arts in a place where classical and traditional music is lost in the youth. They put on recitals in the community and churches throughout the department.
To put this in perspective… I have not seen a piano anywhere in Cajamarca until I walked into this music studio. There are no pianos in my community. This was such a stark comparison to the US where many families own a piano even if no one in the family knows how to play it!
Ok yes, I desperately miss music! Anyways back to the workshop… So my partner and I met with the owners and over the span of two days we were able to develop a marketing plan with them and go over some of the finances that they had never thought about. Marketing and music, it was by far the best two days I have had in Peru!
The latter part of the week was training on Income Generating Activities, mostly geared towards women. This is particularly relevant in Peru because many women do not have time to work full time. Someone is expected to take care of the house, food, and kids. IGA’s allow women to do small things to save up or contribute a little to the family. Activities range from selling tamales for a few hours in the evenings, to offering mani/pedis on weekends. It is a non-formal business activity to help bring in a little extra income.
The week ended with a surprise cake and presents for our tech trainer, Andrea, who is moving on to bigger and better jobs with the Peace Corps. We also took advantage of being in the “big” city for the weekend and ate lots of oreo cheesecake. (Not the Chocolate Bar, but still eatable.)
Overall it was a fun week and we really did learn a lot of great ways to better work in our communities! We finished off the weekend at a live music restaurant called Mc Cuy’s… Cuy= guinea pig… that thing we eat all the time in the sierra. Haha, I loved the decor of the place!