The Six Month Mark
Right after my three months of training in Costa Rica I had the overwhelming image in my head of a great white canvas. Being provided with brushes, oils, paints, and a multitude of other resources, I was to design this canvas in the way in which I saw fit, in a way that would best serve the rural mountain community I was placed in, Sabanillas de Acosta.
Throughout the many years I spent in school and in my first job after college working for a law firm, I was told exactly what to do and how to do it to succeed. This was the first time in my life I had the freedom to create. A freedom that was daunting. Throughout the first couple months of service I was just getting my face out there (getting to know the community, the educational system, the strengths, the needs, and the dreams of the community members). I started a multi-level English community class as way to get my feet wet for the school year started in February.
My saving grace during my first couple months in site was the soccer field. Getting some exercise, interacting with other young people, and having fun were crucial to my sanity during the transition into my new life in Sabanillas de Acosta. After playing soccer we would go hang out at an abandoned cabin and eat ice pops or walk to the top the mountain and start a campfire.
Looking back on my first three months it was so beneficial to be able to connect with these kids and get to know them outside of the classroom before they became my elementary and high school English students.
Months four, five, and six I really saw some things start to kick off. I started a grant writing process with one of the elementary schools to get money to fund a typical dance group and a choir in the elementary school (which was just approved a couple days ago!!).
The beauty in this project is that it is fully supported by the community as the idea originally came from the principal of the elementary school. I´m pumped about the kids having an opportunity for self-expression and character development. Plus, extra-curricular activities around here are slim to none.
Additionally, some other nonformal heath initiatives took off. I lead five ladies in my town in their first yoga session. Yoga has been amazing form of wholistic exercise that has kept me sane throughout my time here. It was an honor to be able to share that experience with some of my Costa Rican friends. I also started walking in the afternoons on a more or less regular basis with some of the women in my town.
My first and second grade classes and my wonderful mother's class in Viriginia participated in an eye opening live Skype session, showing each others classrooms, talking about their daily routines, favorite foods, and what they did for fun. My classes also exchanged e-mails, videos, and PowerPoint presentations with two other teachers back in the States.
One of the most exciting news to share is that my high school Spanish teacher, Sr. Yutzy came to my community in Costa Rica with ten of his students! They spent a day with my elementary school students playing games, sharing culture, making art, and cooking cheese empanadas. Looking back on how Sr. Yutzy influenced my life has given me courage and strength to push through the hardtimes of service and know that every day each and every one of us has the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Peace Corps is always telling volunteers that we have to be patient. It takes time to see results. Which despite all of these praises, is VERY true. These six months have been full of high highs and low lows. And through all of it I continue to strive to be here now. To not idealize the past or day dream about the future but live each day in the present and to more than ever be true to who I am.
I often ask myself, why I decided to be a Peace Corps volunteer. Was it to see more of the amazing world we live in? Yes. Was it to improve my Spanish? Yes. Was it for personal, interpersonal, and spiritual growth? Yes. Was it to help others? YES! But as is often true in life, sometimes you learn later on why you ended up where you are. I´m here for the ride. To experience life and all the beauty and tragedy that comes with it.