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Published: October 16th 2011
Thought it was time for an entry in my blog and seeing as it's a lazy rainy Sunday, I don't have an excuse or distraction from writing. Rainy season has officially begun here in La Gloria and most parts of Costa Rica. As of today, we have had 9 DAYS STRAIGHT of rain. Yesterday it stopped for about a total of 2 hours the whole day. Everytime it stops I think this must be the end, it can't possibly rain any more. And soon I am proven wrong as the cold wind and rain returns just as I am putting my solar panel out or attempting to dry my clothes. Luckily and surprisingly I have only lost power for a few hours during one of the rainy days and water was not potable for a day. I am also pleasantly surprised that the roads in both directions are still passable and busses still running on normal schedule. Walking is not such an easy feat at times on these muddy roads. If it wasn't for my rubber boots (thank you Sarah) I would have been knee deep in mud on several occasions!...
So as the title of this blog suggests, it has been over three years since I joined Peace Corps. I left on or around September 16, 2008 for Vanuatu. I was sworn in as a volunteer in Vanuatu on November 27, 2008. It's hard to believe I've been living outside the United States for more than 3 years, nevermind living this kind of lifestyle for that long. It is no wonder that right now I have become more accustomed to many aspects of this simple rural lifestyle than that of the faster paced, modern, and technology filled life in the US. I realize many times after returning from a vacation in the states that returning to my community is comforting to me and feels more like home at this point than the states. I was also thinking about how when a person adapts to another way of living you have to find ways to deal with the challenges you face. And as time goes on, at least for me, I have grown accostomed to the challenges, and sometimes I find that was once a challenge is no longer an issue. Or I also find that it is still a challenge, but I have developed strategies for dealing with those challenges.
When I go back to the US , I will have a new set of challenges to face, but will also not have the challenges of say language or chisme (local gossip.) I will probably have more work related challenges and stress and less culturally related stress. I will probably need to arrive on time for my job, not 15 to 30 minutes late. I am anticipating not being able to take an hour lunch break including a nap. I might be able to walk to work, but I doubt it would be as scenic and definately won't be spotting any exotic birds on the way. But one of the things that scares me most about moving back to the US is finding rewarding work. During the past 3 years I have experienced many many work days when I have felt frustrated, like I am not making any progress, and have felt like giving up. Whether it be with teaching a class or working one on one with a counterpart, or missing too much work because of weather, holidays, or things beyond my control. But then there are the other kind of days, the days when everything seems to fall into place and I can see how I am making a difference- those days make this kind of work extremely rewarding. For example when I would see the manager of the RTC (rural training center school) in Vanuatu following through on writing lesson plans or utilizing the cash book for expenses, or when I would see my Kindergarten students practicing writing their names in the sand. Or in Costa Rica, seeing how excited the students are to learn English or Computer and how much progress they have made. When I first get a job in the states, how is it going to compare to that sense of job satisfaction I get with Peace Corps work? It probably won't, but unless I want to continue to work at the grassroots level, it is an adjustment I will have to make and I will have to find work that is meaningful to me.
When I was arriving in the states recently in September filling out a landing card to go through immigration, I realized as I was filling out the Occupation section of the card that I have always been a Volunteer or a Student for as long as I've been traveling. I have had numerous jobs and internships, but I have never had a full time job. I will be 27 years old when I return to the US and will finally be entering the working world. Peace Corps Volunteer will always be part of my identity, but now this new occupation I find will also be a big part of my identity.
I have been in Peace Corps for over three years now, and I now have three months of Peace Corps service remaining in Costa Rica. The work is just a small part of this experience, and I feel so lucky to have had this experience early in my life. For me the PC experience has encompassed: Forming relationships with people with very different lifestyles and backgrounds than your own; experiencing the kindness, compassion, and friendliness that is found in living in small rural communities; learning about a culture by living among the people and speaking the language; learning about yourself including your weaknesses and overcoming challenges and testing your limits; and some of the things I've enjoyed most: living simply, close to nature, and among incredible natural beauty.
As I come closer to the close of my service, I will try to keep all of these elements in mind and appreciate the opportunities I have had, and make the most of the last three months.
Despite the fears of adjusting to life in the US, I am really excited to being with friends and family again. I have missed everyone and am really looking forward to being closer to everyone!
Thank you for reading!!
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