Friday, February 11, 2011


Goodness- where have I gotten off to as of late? Right?

Well, you'll be happy to know that I've finally woken up. I cannot really tell you what happened to my inspiration these last few weeks, but the lights have returned and my clear blue eyes see once again why I am here and the path that I've embarked upon.

This week has been absolutely wonderful in both an eye-opening and returning to one's roots kinda way. The heat has diminished slightly with virtually non-stop rainfall, and somewhere between the clouds I have remembered that I am led by a vision- one that I do not always see clearly but that guides the hand of serendipity in my encounters. Through ongoing conversations and passing events, I have come to realize that Paraguay is exactly where I am to be right now. It is here that I am recovering and rediscovering my motivation to follow the winding and rocky path that I've chosen in international development/conflict resolution. Sitting in my small Paraguayan house, tending my veggie garden and my brand new 16 baby chicks, my worlds (the developed and developing) are colliding in new and magnificent ways each day. From realizing why it is that I am drawn abroad, to how one recovers from past mistakes, to where the signs are pointing in my professional career... this is what it is all about. They say that Peace Corps is as much a benefit to those in one's host community as it is to the individual herself. And it is to this effect that I wish to tribute today.

Before coming to Paraguay, I watched a small video clip made by former Peace Corps Volunteers. The line that stuck with me the most was "Living with latrines is not a hard thing to do. Living without running water is not a hard thing to do. You get over it. Living with another culture is kinda hard, but you get over it and you will make friends. Living with yourself for two years... is the hardest thing you can possibly do." Following swear-in as a volunteer in Asuncion, not yet aware of what might lie ahead in my site down south, the words resonated strongly. Can I live with myself for two years? Up until recently, I kept myself busy enough to avoid answering this question. Hardly a spare moment to reflect on a grand scale this unique experience, I thought perhaps all my pondering on this question was not particularly relevant. However, after taking on the "carne challenge" (see blog entry December 18, 2010), my many activities came to a rather precarious halt. Wobbling on the edge of a personal hurdle, I finally sat staring that question clear in the face. Can I live with myself, my faults, my quirks, my successes, my temper, my enthusiasm? And the answer is unequivocally: YES. And in fact, given this wonderful opportunity to stop for a second the daily grind so strongly drilled upon in the so-called "developed world," I find I cannot only LIVE with myself- I can GROW with myself.

This week, I have certainly done many things in my community: meetings, soup kitchen, terere, etc. More importantly, however...
I took the time to read. Nothing special really, but I finally finished the Harry Potter series as I've been wanting to for so many years.
I took the time to write. In my journal and now here on my blog.
I took the time to study. Completing an economic study of my city and reading through the details of uranium mining and conflict prevention in the face of globalization to be highly relevant in my site this upcoming year.
I took the time to sing. In fact, this week I sang, practiced guitar, and even wrote my first all-Spanish ballad.
I took the time to cook. The whole town is now out for my homemade Mexican tortillas, fajitas, tacos, and guacamole (made from my very own avocado tree) after I made lunch for several friends and families throughout the week.
I took the time to talk it out. Chatting with friends from Guatemala to the UK, to Germany, to New Zealand, to the US, to right here in my backyard.
I took the time to imagine. To consider what it is that I will really do after Peace Corps- where the road may lead next and how to prepare.

So often, we speed through life. I for one, haven't stopped long enough to breath, much less really consider this glorious life we've been granted. Given my past, you'd think that I had thought it all out- the bold choices to skirt from one side of the globe to the other. Yet I shamefully must admit, in all that searching for heaven-knows-what... I am discovering more by looking within than out.

Peace Corps is not for everyone. The tired body and idle mind can very much wear on the soul. But, as a friend out of prison once told me, "you can let the time do you, or you can do the time." To those of you embarking on this or a similar difficult journey- don't let time take over. Despite a considerable drop in my scheduled activities these last weeks, I find myself waking up earlier each day, hitting the pillow even later- not due to depression or anxiety... but pure excitement. What will I do today!?!

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