25 agosto 2011- jueves
¨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…