martes, 21 de mayo de 2013

Goodbye Peace Corps, Goodbye Guatemala!

Well, it’s all over now. I have now been in the States for about three weeks and I still can not believe my Guatemalan adventure is officially over. I begin physician assistant (PA) school tomorrow so it’s about time I admit that this new life is beginning. Before I truly admit it though, I must complete this blog and sum up my last few weeks in country.

After the project inauguration several women invited me to their homes for lunch. It was a very humbling experience. Other women brought lunch to my house which was almost always a surprise.  They would either knock on my door with food in their hands or call me two minutes before. One promoter brought me two pounds of carne de res, two bowls of pasta, salsa, tortillas and a 2L bottle of India Quiche Cream Soda. I couldn’t believe the gratitude these women showed.

One afternoon after eating
lunch with this amazing family

The family of two of the
 strongest women I met in Guatemala

I spent the last few days with Venoni’s family in his town. His family became my primary Guatemalan family while I was there. Most volunteers have host families but since I lived very apart from my host family I never grew really close to them.  I also spent every holiday and almost one weekend a month with his family. So, clearly the last few days were quite hard for me trying to say goodbye.

Venoni's nephew - Cristian. Since my own nephew
was born about three months after Cristian was born, I felt
like I adopted this little guy as my nephew for
the two years. Love him so much!
One tradition of Peace Corps is called the “Ringing the Bell” ceremony which is held when a volunteer completes their service. All of the employees in the Peace Corps office come together to support the completion of the PCV’s service. My “Ringing the bell” ceremony happened two days before I left the country.  First, my Program Manager Carlos said a few words about my service and then our Country Director Mr. Like read John F. Kennedy’s speech. Mid-speech the tears started coming. I told my friend beforehand there was no way I would cry, but yes, I did. I had no idea the country director would make a speech nor did I know that all the other employees would come too. I then attempted to speak but I’m pretty sure it was just a mumbled jumble of words that didn’t make much sense. I then rang the bell and finished my Peace Corps service.

Here is part of JFK’s speech that the country director read:

“Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed—doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language.

But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps—who works in a foreign land—will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace.”

Ringing the bell ceremony 

Ringing the bell after the speeches

Our awesome country director, George Like!

Doris!! One (I said one) of the
best employees in Peace Corps!

Another favorite employee, Carlos, our Program Manager.
With the bell and my diploma for completing my service. 

Since I’ve been home I keep thinking back about all the wonderful experiences I had in Guatemala. I am blessed to have had such a great service despite the constant changes that occurred in PCG. Although I really feel like I left too early and should have stayed longer, I am looking forward to this new adventure that will allow me to practice both preventive and curative medicine. Peace Corps was absolutely the best experience I could have asked for. In my opinion, everyone should do Peace Corps at some point in their life. (But, I also say that about being a server or a nurse tech too). Seriously though, anyone out there that knows someone that may be considering doing Peace Corps, tell them to do it! They have nothing to lose and the world to gain.

I can’t say just yet exactly how much Peace Corps has changed me but I know it has. From day one of simply meeting 50 other Americans from all over the States with different stories, experiences, histories, personalities, and passions, to my very last day at the airport shedding tears while saying goodbye to my host country national boyfriend, I treasured each friendship and relationship since they all taught me that much more about life, myself, and the world.

Peace Corps is an experience to grow. To meet others. To learn more about yourself. To live in the shoes of someone else. To learn empathy. To create a better you.

I hope that this blog has helped others learn a little bit more about Peace Corps itself and of course the beautiful country of Guatemala. When I tell people now that I was in the Peace Corps, I get that weird stare that makes me think they’re thinking “What the hell? That’s still around?” So I hope that through this blog and my million FB posts that a few more of you now have a better idea of Peace Corps and don’t give the next volunteer you meet that really awkward stare. If anybody knows someone interested in doing Peace Corps, I am always willing to help someone with their decision so please share my info with them.

 I would also like to say thank you SO much to all my friends and family who supported me throughout my entire Peace Corps adventure; from the decision to go, to the FB messages and phone calls when I returned. You have all been awesome and I am such a lucky girl to have friends and family like you guys!

Thank you all!