Who’s a hungry bear?

Before I moved to Peru with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, I was told that it is common for female volunteers to gain weight while abroad, though male volunteers often end up shedding some pounds.

The two female JVs with whom I live–Mallory and Susan–seem to be doing just fine and look no worse for Peru’s wear. I thought I was in the same boat until a conversation I had with Henry, the principal of the school where I teach, a few weeks ago.

“Brian, I wanted to talk to you about lunch,” he said.

I started to panic. Some of the teachers eat school-provided lunches they pay for. Though I do not fall into this category, I’ve struck up a friendship of sorts with the ladies who prepare the food. Sometimes if there is extra, they beckon me to the serving station and give me a “free lunch.” It turns out there is such a thing.

But it seemed I had been caught red-handed. I began to stammer an apology to Henry, who in turn looked confused.

“The other teachers and I have decided we’d like you to start eating lunch here,” he explained.

“Oh…thanks!” I replied. At 6’3″, I can be a pretty hungry little bear, so for me, more food is exactly what the doctor ordered (the doctor to whom I’m referring is me). Though I was already eating an official lunch in the parish cafeteria each day, I figured another one at school couldn’t hurt.

Henry smiled and went to spread the good tidings to Mateo, the other JV who teaches at Fe y Alegrìa High School.

I assumed the teachers were just being nice, trying to welcome us further into their fold. Later when I was revelling in my good fortune, however, Mateo explained the real reason for our fourth meal of the day–our colleagues were worried we had grown too thin.

I’m not actually a doctor, but I can say with confidence that I have a healthy diet in Peru. Our community often buys fresh vegetables at a local greenhouse, and my fruit and protein intake is probably better than it ever was in college. It is likely that any weight loss I’ve experienced is the result of living two miles above sea level–something I didn’t experience in Wisconsin–rather than malnutrition.

But if my coworkers want me to be their Oliver, dare I argue with them?

Waiting for seconds.

No. I dare not.


About brianharperu

A recent Marquette University graduate who inexplicably finds himself living and working as a Jesuit Volunteer in Peru, Brian enjoys writing, learning new musical instruments, imagining himself to be a better athlete than he is, eating pancakes and voting as part of his civic duty.
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1 Response to Who’s a hungry bear?

  1. Maria Paz says:

    Brian … I met you in Andahuaylillas … we didn’t have much time to share some experiences about life, but reading your writings, I realize that since you came to Peru something changed in your life …
    I just went to Cusco to do an experience very short, I never expect that something special it was waiting for me ….just some days in the mountain, with beautiful people, with reflections, with everything I needed to see, I needed to listen , I needed to dream , and I needed to live… for me it exist an “before and after” in Arawara..
    In those days …something happened in my heart, something moved me extremely strong ,something very very strong that I never felt before … and changed my point of view of everything …
    I felt so much love from God and Mary … so much love … that I cannot explain with simple words.. . I just felt it in the deep side of my heart ..
    That experience was so different .. that I realice I never want to be far from God… never again ..
    I met beautiful people from the Company of Jesus, and I took the decision to be part of them here in Lima .. I’m a Maggis Volunteer.. we go to help people here ,,, and now I’m waiting the new experiences …that are coming for us in November and January …
    After this experience I`m not sure about my vocation.. but I`m in that process ..of discovering ….
    Maybe we have something in common, and that make me feel that I`m very very happy to meet people like you, people like all the volunteers that I met in my short trip , people .. that is so difficult to find ..but so beautiful to know .. to have in my life.

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