It is hard to believe... and perhaps even harder to swallow: I am at my one year service mark in Paraguay.
A year ago today, I swore in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer to serve in Departmento Caazapá for the following 2 years and begin an adventure that many call "the toughest job you'll ever love." I came in feeling a bit nervous, tired, fat, and at least 7 dusty hours on the road unbathed. My first real conversation in my site was with my host dad regarding whether or not girls should be allowed to have short hair as they may be mistaken for men (I had short hair). As I look back, I really can't fathom all that I have been through and learned this year. Beyond the basics of Spanish/Guarani, the project cycle and community mapping, and the wonders of PACA/PRA (participatory rural analysis) tools- I have learned to love and appreciate a culture so very different from my own in ways I never imagined I could. I've met a variety of families that have taken me in as their own, friends that have been there for me, and colleagues that are inspiring beyond many I've ever known.
I am still, however, only touching the tip of the iceberg. There is much yet to learn about Latin America and the developing world, more Spanish to get into, much more Guarani, more times in which I will grow through my faults and struggles more than my successes. That said, welcome to my 2nd year in Peace Corps Paraguay.
It's not been the best, nor been the worst- and THANK YOU.