Monday, February 25, 2008

The Continuing Search for Motivation


Motivation can be a difficult part of the Peace Corps service. Some people are easily motivated, while others need some kind of inspiration. When I graduated from college I worked three jobs. I didn’t necessarily need the money, and I didn’t necessarily make a lot. I think I just wanted to be busy. Here, in Catilluc, every day is battle to find the motivation to do something, anything. I spend four plus hours every morning alone in my room trying to find the motivation to brush my teeth, get dressed, and be a part of my new community. I’m not sure exactly why it’s so hard to go out into Catilluc proper and start my day or my work. And when I’m not in Catilluc, I am so motivated to try a million projects and interact with the amazing people who live here. And then I return, and I feel weighed down by the burden and responsibility. I’m hoping this is a temporary result of having too much responsibility put on my shoulders by everyone around me. Responsibility that my training and education tells me is not really mine.

One of my greatest fears about development work is making the mistakes of generations before me. There is really no way to apologize for colonialism and imperialism. There is no way to apologize for the mass murder of cultures and societies in the name of development. Now, I’m not na├»ve enough to think I have some kind of special power that could change the way Peru exists as we know it, but isn’t it the small deaths that lead to the bigger ones. If I just took the full responsibility of the CAID for the next year and a half and then watched the doors close after four years of Peace Corps intervention, would that be a small death or just me being “overly-dramatic”? Or would it be better to walk away from the work right now, and not enable the irresponsibility of others (not that they are irresponsible in all areas of their lives, just in this organization)? And after nine months in country, I have very little to show for my time.

The above sounds so pessimistic; and I honestly don’t feel pessimistic. I feel realistic. Like now is the time of my journey to take a serious look at what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I am making so me very strong friendships that I would honestly miss if I left tomorrow. The other day I was returning from Llamapampa (a local caserio – 45 minute walk) with my “mama” in Catilluc and it was starting to lightly rain. Now Mama Casilda (as I call her) is no spring chicken. She must be in her 50’s at least (which in this culture makes you look much older than you are), but we started to run. I was surprised by this behavior because I don’t think I’ve seen a Peruvian run yet. But Mama Casilda has this giggle that is infectious, and I found myself running and giggling with her in the rain. Every time I eat with them (which is very frequently as my host family is nowhere to be found) she insists that I need to eat more. Of course usually one plate of plain white rice is plenty sufficient, but I find myself trying to please her because she’s so sweet. Of course I’m gaining weight because of it, but it doesn’t matter at this point. Weight can always be lost, but I would never want to lose her respect especially over a measly plate of rice. Little by little I’m learning new things about myself. Little by little I’m finding that I can be content even in difficult situations. And little by little I see rays of sunshine in this very rainy time of year and time in my work.

Mama Casilda with a sheep head. I love her laugh, and we laughed a lot this day as well.

2 comments:

Mardy said...

I love the story of running and giggling in the rain with Mama Casilda! I can totally imagine your laugh and just what that experience was like. Fun! I hope you find some kind of motivation soon. I know it must be difficult. I'll continue to pray that everything comes together soon.

Love ya!
Mard

carolyn said...

hey sweet sister,we finally got a new computer and i found you on the internet.keep laughing with mama casilda..she may be enough for your motivation right now..focus on her and the joy she gives you and God will show you his plan for your time and motivation.love ya lots carolyn and dot