Feb 29, 2008

A new assignment

I got a call today from work in the fastest Spanish I've ever heard in my life. I must be getting used to it, because I got the gist of it and said I'd be there to speak with Ms. Caldaz (the academic directoress of the institute) at 5 pm.

When I arrived, Ms. Caldaz called me into her office and told me to sit. She had that tired look on her face that people get when they have to do something they really don't want to do or when they are unhappy abut a situation, but resigned to it. A couple of things ran through my mind just then. "Called in on my day off...am I getting fired? Or maybe she's going to give me another course." She was on the phone, so I sat there, sweating about it a little. You know, it's not that I desperately need the money (luckily) - I only have been earning an average of $300 per month there (just about poverty level for the Lima area, actually). But I always try to do my best at whatever I do, and to be fired for doing my best would be a huge blow to me.

Rosa Caldaz got off the phone, looked me in the eye, and told me that she wanted me to teach a survival course to not one, but two classes of sailors who were attending the Peruvian Army's School of War. In English. WHAT?!?! She'd been ordered to have the course ready to teach by Monday at 3pm. Another WHAT?!?! She told me that I was the logical choice, having been an employee of the US Air Force for so long (27 years). Yeah, like I learned CPR, general first aid, how to load a cargo plane and ambulance with stretchers of injured people, and how to use a compass. And I've packed my fair share of first aid kits. So I've got basically not much. Okay - I'll do it. I can teach it. (Heh, right.) I can at least talk about it.

Actually, it's not that these men are likely to go to war against anyone. Peru's military hasn't much of a war capability and their national defense is so antiquated that they wouldn't do much against an invading enemy. They're more like a civil defense organization that helps during natural disasters and augments the police when there is civil unrest. But they do have a UN mission, and do regularly go in small groups to the Congo, Haiti, Sudan, and various other hot spots across the globe as peacekeepers, equipped by other countries. And it seems that English is now the global language among the militaries of the world. Nearly all of the Peruvian soldiers that have gone anywhere end up working under the command of European or Canadian officers, and they have to speak English in order to function. So, hmmm. This is where I come in. I didn't know it, but for the last few months, I've been preparing these guys for their deployments. Last month, the soldiers told me what they were doing. This month, the directoress told me what I've been doing and what I will be doing. Last month it was Army guys. This month, I'll have 2 classes of sailors.

Survival training! What? In a month? I think I'm supposed to teach them how to ask and give directions, teach them to talk about survival issues, and give them the basic language tools to be able to help themselves and someone else, if necessary. I think I need more than a month. This month's course is going to be an intensive one, I guess. I hope they plan on participating. God knows I can talk for hours, but I need to know that they can talk too, when necessary.


Wooly Works said...

Whoa! I guess you've got your work cut out for you. From a practical point of view, you've already had all of that training, haven't you? From a "life" point of view, if there's anyone who knows how to survive in adverse conditions, it's you. You'll do just fine, I'm confident!!

Pondside said...

Oh Boy....or should I say "Oh Gal!"...of course you can do it!! This is another thing we have in common - I once taught a class of NATO airmen....I sure didn't have the vocabulary for what they needed, but quickly learne about loading planes and runway safety....too funny! Good luck with this. I love it that I can picture you at that school!

Kathleen said...

Well, I can at least talk about it all. I've looked up "urban survival" and "survival training" on line, and I think I can give them enough scenarios to cover what they are needing. They get to do ROLE-PLAYING this month and this week will save Omar the puppet from cardiac arrest and a choking disaster. Poor little Omarcito. He'll have his work cut out for him. It will be his debut into daily classes!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Eeeeek - good luck with it - let us know how it goes. Not something I could do - would scare me - but clearly holds no qualms for you.