As I sit on my balcony, looking on out Santa Maria Vistitacion, drinking my coffee, I think about how much things have been changing. So many people have left from my training class, and 2 of my good friends from Youth in Development have left in the past 2 months. It has really made me look at my own service, and wonder, am I happy being here?
This is not a new topic. Being in the Peace Corps, I have had many moments of loneliness and frustration, where I just want to get the hell out of this country. But those feelings pass, and I go on living my life in Guatemala.
Recently, I have been pondering if I genuinely would be happier if I was in The States. And the general conclusion, I have come to is NO. I have a life here. Some of the main reasons I thought I would be happier in The States, were about conveniences. Easily driving to Publix, and picking up some chives, if I want. Not being held down by public transportation, and the lack of transportation that I am allowed to use as Peace Corps volunteer. And the food. Sushi, Thai, Bam’s steak and biscuits, fruit tea, bagels, Greek salad, good sandwiches, and list could continue for this whole page. Besides my family and friends, convenience, and food, there is nothing in The States that is waiting for me.
I have developed a family here. My friends are my Guatemalan family. People have really bonded with their host families, and while I am decently close with my host family from Sumpango, my Peace Corps friends are my best friends/family here. If they weren’t here, I would have left last year. I have a decent work schedule, with plenty of free time, which is something I will never again have. I just put on two Career Fairs for my students, and while the paperwork for funding was/is annoying; I think it was worth it. I have recently been given a larger role regarding the future of my project (Youth in Development), involving planning, monitoring, and evaluation. Program evaluation is what I want to do when I return to the States, and this is a great opportunity to have fun doing some evaluation (I can be quite a nerd).
However, I can’t depend on Guatemalans as a whole. I realize this is a generalization, but in Santa Clara, the people who I work with are generally good. But most of the legwork has to be done by me. I can’t depend on them to arrive somewhat on time, do a correct budget, or make a plan that isn’t full of problems. These are some of the frustrations that I have working with the people. No one has ever said development is easy. But this is part of it. Some of these problems are influenced by the culture, while others are just skills they don’t have. One of the many reasons I am here is to model for my teachers/directors about when to arrive to a meeting. Or to give them trainings on how to do a budget or write up a plan. In development, we must celebrate the little changes. So, I only want small, tiny changes.
I will return to the States in July/August 2013, and I will feel glad of all that I accomplished while I was here. Even if that accomplishment is just being present in my community and modeling good behavior, or modeling what an American is.
I will be happy to return, but for the moment I am happy to be here. I will never have this type of opportunity again, and it has been such a great experience for me. And I am looking forward to the great moments and grand frustrations within the next 9 months.
Paz y Amor