Monday, August 13, 2012

2 years have flown by

Wow.  No seriously, wow.  Saturday was my 2-year anniversary in Guatemala.  I read on another Peace Corps blog that we volunteers actively keep track of our time in country and count down the days left.  Because I have yet to set a final ending date, I cannot accurately say how many days I have left, nor am I sure I want to.  But I do think 2 years is a significant anniversary for any occasion.  These have not been an easy 2 years.  However, I would not trade them for anything.

Surprisingly or unsurprisingly, this past month has seen huge advances in work productivity and community integration on my part, to be continued until I leave Cunén.  “Zumba” classes with my sitemates are a massive success: at least 30-35 women have been showing up every week ready to dance and sweat their butts off.  I have since been asked to help choreograph dances for youth groups, been invited to participate in community events with a youth association I hadn’t known existed, and met many new people.  I’ve attended more children’s birthday parties.  I went to Mormon church and (mistakenly, in hindsight) invited the missionaries over to dinner.  I fulfilled a personal goal of mine to visit the tropical and electricity-free Zona Reyna of Uspantán, 5 hours away from the town center on a windy dirt road through the mountains in a cramped microbus.  As painful as the journey was, it was definitely one of my favorite weekends here, celebrating my friend Laurie’s birthday.  Work-wise, the school kids and I harvested radishes and made healthy salads; I conducted a market visit to Antigua with Allan, my Save the Children coordinator, and scored some business for my artisan groups; and most excitingly, received approval for my onion warehouse proposal!  While waiting to receive the money, I’ve begun workshops with the association on proper post-harvest handling of their product.  Construction is set to start in September :)

at my host brother Fernandito's 5th birthday
Last week I was in Antigua for my training group’s Close of Service (COS) conference.  Peace Corps put us up in a nice hotel and more or less prepared us how to say goodbye to people and wrap things up in site, how to plan for the near future, and how to prepare for the shock of re-integrating into American culture.  It was a surreal experience; one that I’d anticipated for a long time but couldn’t believe had finally arrived.  Further bringing home the realization that the end was near was the fact that 3 of my close friends are COSing between this week and next, a couple of months early.  In true PC/Guatemala-fashion, we had a memorable (or not so memorable, depending on which way you look at it…) send-off and post-conference celebration weekend.

the final 13 (of my group's original 32) at COS conference

the celebratory happy hour...
Now I’m back in site, planning out the limited time I have left here.  I’m anticipating a lot of self-reflection, to which I’m sure you will all be treated to as it comes.  GRE-studying is well underway, to varied degrees of success, and grad programs are picked out.  Crazily enough, I even have a job interview lined up for when I get home, with the tech company Dropbox in San Francisco.  I’m really excited about it and waiting to see how it goes before sending in the Masters applications.  Expect a phone call soon, friends and family in the bay area!

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