From “Contraparte” to “Mi Llave”: How to make your Peace Corps Counterpart your BFF

By Jimmy Everett

I already know what you’re thinking: “Great, another chance for Jimmy to brag about how great his counterpart is.” Well, yes. But more than that, this is an opportunity for me to mention some of the steps that turned our co-working relationship into a friendship that I believe will last a lifetime and how you can do the same with your very own counterpart using just three simple steps!

Jimmy_Counterpart_1

Step # 1: Counterpart should be awesome to start with.

This step is crucial. Before your counterpart can become a candidate for best friendship, you need to do your homework make sure that he or she is awesome. If you don’t feel like your counterpart is “awesome” in the classic sense of the word, try to see if some other appropriate adjectives fit him or her. Some of these acceptable adjectives include “cool,” “radical,” or even Spanish translations such as “bacano” and/or “chévere.” If your counterpart is lacking these qualities, it may be best to search for your best friend within another community member, or to steal the counterpart of another volunteer as your best friend. If your counterpart does fit into these categories, however, you’ve got a great chance. I knew right away that Albert and I were going to be friends.Jimmy_Counterpart_2

Step #2: Do stuff and eat stuff.

This step is pretty simple, but crucial to the relationship between you and your counterpart. Once you have decided that your counterpart is cool, start doing things with him or her outside of school. In my case, Alberto and I would go out to dinner about twice a week to co-plan and chat. Getting to know each other on a more personal level helped us to develop a strong friendship, which in turn helped us with our co-planning process. Because we both know each other so well, we are always on the same page when it comes to creating lessons and having a clear vision of our goals. If that isn’t enough, the friendship aspect helps to make the co-planning and co-teaching aspect enjoyable. It is always something that I look forward to.Jimmy_Counterpart_3

If your friendship continues to develop, go on fun outings with your counterpart. Alberto and I do things like going to the beach, visiting Cartagena, celebrating local holidays, going shopping, eating ice cream, attending birthday parties, and even going to the disco. What fun! Doing stuff and eating stuff with your counterpart will really help to push your friendship to the next level. Talking about stuff is also nice.

Jimmy_Counterpart_4Step #3: Take Selfies!

In my experience, selfies are one of the many easy things that you can do to go from being regular old boring friends to BEST FRIENDS. Shopping? Take a selfie. Eating out? Take a selfie. Teaching an awesome lesson together? Take a selfie. This is the realm where BFFs are born.

 

This article is dedicated to a great counterpart and a great man: My Best Friend, Alberto.

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