Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reflections of One Year

I actually wrote this post at our one-year-in-country mark, but today we had our one year anniversary IN SITE. Although, technically this is my second site, and I haven't been in Jangas for one year yet. Anyway, enjoy:

At the beginning of June I officially lived in Peru for one year. That year has had its ups and its downs. I have lived in three different locations with three very different families. I loved Yanacoto and my family from training. Loly is still one of my closest friends, even though she now lives in Argentina. I liked, then hated, and finally loved my family in Catilluc. Maybe the greatest lesson of my time in Catilluc is that everyone deserves an extra chance and extra efforts because sometimes those people with all their extra chances just go on to prove themselves to you. And you also then get many chances to prove yourself to other people. On the other hand, I loved my community in Catilluc and then hated it there. During my months in Catilluc I felt like I was being taken advantage of, manipulated, and everyone expected me to do their work or the work they wanted me to do. And on top of it, they felt like they could gossip about me regardless of the truth. Yet, I don’t think I would change my journey to this point.
I am so thankful to be in Ancash. I now have a great and supportive family. They have been beyond kind to me, and they are always ready to share a laugh or at least a smile. Every night at around 6pm, I go to the kitchen to watch and help my host mom cook dinner. At around 8pm, my host sisters roll in from school, and shortly after my host dad drives his combi into the yard, and we eat and watch a Mexican telenovela called “Victoria.” I’m glad that my Spanish is starting to improve because I can actually follow the story-lines. That and I can communicate slightly better with my host family and the people I want to work with. I have a long way to go with my Spanish, but I sure have come a long way from where I started.

In this past year I have learned a lot about Peruvian culture and myself. Here’s a brief list of the things I have learned:

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times – Catilluc and the nine months of growth through challenge has taught me that I can survive anything. But more importantly, I have learned to hold on in bad situations.

Peace Corps makes strange bedfellows – I have become friends with people that I probably wouldn’t have given a second thought to in the United States. This has therefore helped me learn more about myself and open up my mind to new ideas and opinions.

You can poorly speak two languages – my Spanish is no where close to where I need it to be, but now I’m losing my English. Add a little Quechua to the mix, and well…I can barely communicate.
Friends and family back at home are so important – I always knew this, but I have received more support and encouragement from those who have known me and love me than I have at times from PC staff or other Volunteers, although both are supportive in their own right and own ways.

Here’s my checklist of cool things I’ve done this year:

I have danced cumbia, huayno, salsa, meringue, and other dances…very well.

I have danced marinera…very poorly.

I have made friends with people from Peru, US, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Spain, England, Ireland…to name a few.

I have seen Huascaran, the second largest mountain in the Americas.

I have seen the Pacific Ocean from the Southern Hemisphere.

I have become a member of the Women in Development/Gender Analysis and Development Committee.

I have met a person from every Peru group since we re-entered Peru 5 years ago.

I have dated a few really cool Peruvians and a couple of duds.

I have walked among ruins, was rained on in Machu Picchu, and took self-portraits all over Cusco.

I have stared into the deepest canyon in the world.

I have received phone calls and counseled other volunteers in their times of need.

I have found people to call and counsel me when I am in my times of need.

I have attended Catholic Mass and celebrated Catholic celebrations that I had never heard of before.

I have had an egg passed over my body to tell me that I’ve had evil eyes cast upon me…an Andean tradition to identify ailments.

I have missed my friends and family dearly, but have yet to really miss my life in the states.
And maybe most importantly, I have lived, laughed, loved, cried, and survived…maybe even thrived here in Peru.

Thanks for all of your support in this year. I really have less than a year left now.


Samantha said...

Hey pretty ;)

Mardy said...

Look at you...skinny! Another great post. I love when you "sum it all up" for us. Those little blurbs and anecdotes are great. Can't wait to visit.

bine said...

Hello Ari,
I dont know if you know about us, but me and my travelpartner Thomas are going to be in Jangas as volunteers for 6 months in exactly two weeks.
My name is Sabine and I want to ask you if we could get in contact, maybe you could give me some insiderinformations about the life in Jangas. I would be pleased to hear from you.
PS: Sorry for my bad english, but my spanish is much worse :)