Posted by: janetwright2guatemala | 08/25/2011

Rayos! Celebrating 1 yr in Guatemala and Feria!

25 agosto 2011- jueves

Lago Atitlan= beautiful

¨The days go slowly but the years go fast¨….somewhere I heard these true words.

August 11th offically marked a year from when I walked with 31 other volunteers down the corridors of the newly renovated airport in Guatemala City….jetlagged, excited, and anxious about what would be this chapter of my life called Peace Corps. Now a year later, four of these companions have chosen to return to the U.S. for a variety of reasons, so our group now totals 28. (Total volunteers in Guatemala are approximately 200). Have I seriously considered leaving my service early? No. Have there been some very tough moments? Por supuesto, Si!! I’ve cried on the shoulders of friends and family, and I thank you all heartily for your support. And yes, I do anticipate some rough patches ahead as I navigate my second year.

Conflicting feelings swirl about in the blender of my first anniversary…pride of some work accomplishments; enjoyment of a slower lifestyle and simple pleasures; longing for more and deeper friendships but heartened by seeds now germinating; the tongue-twisters I still commit as I struggle to express myself in another language; the appreciation of my community for my efforts, and even unsolicited thanks and admiration from strangers…and more.

A few personal and work goals for this next year:

• Study and learn more K´iche´…beyond the 9 words I currently know…it´s NOT an easy language, but it´s a sure path to being more integrated into my community.

• Wear Mayan traje (outfit) more often…they are absolutely delighted when I wear it because it shows my respect for their culture….an added plus, I get lots more compliments that I am ¨bella, hermosa, guapa¨. I sure don´t mind that!

• Travel more broadly in Guatemala…both locally and in farther corners. I aspire to truly appreciate the diversity of this country before I board that final flight home.

• Get a recycling program going in my town to reduce the trash just thrown on the hillside, so both environmental and economic benefits. I have been doing research on this possibility, and have some support, but I may have to await the arrival of the new mayor in January to push forward.

• ¨Fortelizar grupos de mujeres¨- strengthening womens groups is part of my program mandate. Now working with 2 womens groups, I would like to promote Mayan women as community leaders to help organize and strengthen new groups… a great legacy would be working myself out of the picture!

• More work with jóvenes (youth)…they are the future! Some topics include: gender equality-equity (to reduce the machismo culture), environment, or continuation of their education (many only complete middle school.

Stay tuned for stories from our town´s feria…3 days of crazy fun and dancing, so I’m very pleasantly tired. A highlight last night was dancing to a live marimba band until 1:15am with my work companions AND the current mayor. Not surprisingly, my office is very quiet today…


Responses

  1. Keep on goin’!.. I think learning more K’iche and wearing their outfits will make your community fall even more in love with you.

    You’ve got some great goals for your second year! And everyone who I’ve met from the Peace Corps says that the first year is for orienting yourself, and the second year is when you can get some work done..so be proud of your accomplishments so far and know that this was the year where you were supposed to be floundering around and getting used to everything

    …I’m so excited to come visit you and I’m working on my Spanish! (I don’t know how much K’iche I’ll be tackling though)…con muchos besos, te amo mamacita

  2. What a wonderful admirable life. I look forward to your reports of progress.

    Are you located near Xela? My wife and I will be there in November for more Spanish classes. We are nearing 60 and the end of our federal government career. We plan to join the PC as our final assignment. We hope to go to a spanish-speaking country, and (if I may be so bold) follow in your footsteps.

  3. Keep your great blogs coming, I’m leaarning so much about Guatemala’s people, the towns, customs and scenery. Plus, it makes the distance between us seem a tiny bit smaller. Congratulations on making it through the year, with all the joys and challenges. I couldn’t be any prouder of you than I am!
    Love always, Mom (and Jim)

  4. Thanks Dulces for your support!

    NIce to know that I have fantastic kids as part of my team back home!!! You know firsthand some of these struggles, and a year here in Guatemala has provided me with plenty of time for both successes (albeit small to date) and frustrations. I am SO looking forward to spending time with you and Alex for Christmas and showing you some of the beautiful places and people that are here. Nos vemos pronto!!!

  5. Fantastic!!

    Good luck with your Peace Corps application…that challenge often takes a year, and perhaps navigating the bureaucracy is intended to help you have the patience and sense of humor you will need for your service! I am not entirely joking, but maybe they have managed to streamline the process! It will be very rewarding for you two to serve together, I can think of no better bonding experience!…I think we only have one husband-wife team in Guatemala now.

    Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions: janet2B(at) gmail.com…sorry, I cannot get the at symbol on this keyboard.

  6. Oh yes, I forgot to answer your question…I live within 2hrs of Xela, so we could definitely get together!

  7. Hi Janet,
    I love hearing about your work in Guatemala, your travels, and the life of the village. Thank you so much for taking the time to post the updates, the snippets of Spanish (that keep the language at least simmering on the back burner in my mind), and the photos that tie it all together.

    Congratulations on el ano primero.


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