Published: May 17th 2012May 17th 2012
Community Entry Day as the Peace Corps calls it, is on this specific day. I wake up crack-ass early, before 6, so that I had enough time to eat breakfast and pack the rest of my belongings. After realizing that I would profusely sweat if I tried to haul all of my suitcases to Ben Wargo’s house (trying to be economical by splitting a cab fare), I just asked my Dona to call a taxi for me, and after 5 minutes, I was on my way to the training center in Pantoja. The taxi driver deftly maneuvers inside, without scraping the underside of his car, and drops me off near Rindi. An hour later, I was joined by all of the trainees on a bus, and driven to another training center in Santo Domingo, where we stayed our first night in country. This time the place looked so much nicer, especially the bedrooms. Not to mention, that first night in the DR felt like eons ago. Come to think of it, that place almost had a dreary sort of jail like feel to it. I don’t know why one day could be so vastly different from the other, but it really was. Maybe I had already changed? However, that night I had only slept 3 hours the previous 60 hours, and of course it was already past dusk. As I started talking to Alex near the water cooler, two older Dominicans walked by me, but I secretly notice that they are from Los Tres Pasos, my community. At this point I just start talking to Alex just on cruise-control, something that I realize I totally take for granted in English, just to pass the time as I wait for the 2 gentlemen to pass by me as they exit the bathroom. Here I am analyzing, strategizing, and multi-tasking in the only language I really know, and I am so jealous of my skills in English cause I crave these in my ability to speak Spanish. I fully realize that I use very quick-witted humor in many situations. What I truly mean is that I speak English without a filter and I absolutely love it! My personality is ultimate flexibility, to slither any way I choose. And what does this require? Intent listening and fast processing. I certainly don’t have those skills in Spanish, and at times my brain severely stutters or lags because it is use to improvising so much. I believe I do that much more than most. It’s already extremely frustrating to not be able to say everything your brain really wants to say, but to watch and observe my personality sort of tied down is maddening! Usually, I feel I can charm and humor most people, however it just makes me want to master Spanish that much more.
I will defend all of these frustrations with a bit of anxiety and trepidation as I explain this next situation, after arriving in my community, I exit and wait under a gazebo with my new host family to start a meeting with the Water Committee with the town. I was dying to crawl to my room so that I could prepare a little speech about myself and my commitment to the community and what they could possibly expect of me and what I could expect of them. I don’t know what I was thinking, that I would just start talking and then there would be a respectful hush and ultimate authority would be granted to me. So I was waiting for more of the committee to show, instead more people from the community gathered around inside the gazebo and either sat or stood just to hear how I was going to introduce myself to the community. Instead of 6 people and myself at a meeting, as my group as devilish agreed to, there were like 20 people at this meeting. And we finally started the meeting, but I knew I couldn’t say the same little introduction that I had given in the past when we introduced ourselves to large groups of people. This time I needed to talk for some reasonable length of time, and thus, I just started to talk Spanish (certainly there were errors) with everyone just intently hanging onto every word that I somehow spewed out. After talking about where I am from, what I studied in school, where my name is from, my roots, my evolution of my identity (who wouldn’t love that shit), and how I wanted to become integrated into the community like I would be a part of a big family. At that point, they were impressed enough that they started just talking rapidly at one another and me, even though, multiple conversations is impossible to understand in Spanish. After an hour, the meeting ended, and instead of just trying to relax, I somehow end up at an Evangelical service, where in the most obvious circumstances, I was offered to say some words at the small congregation. This time when I grabbed the microphone I just said a few sentences about myself and just sat down quickly. I will say that joining Peace Corps makes you a less timid person because you have to lead meeting in a foreign language.