As of Friday, I’ve lived in Santo Tomás for 3 weeks
I’m pretty spoiled right now. The fan in my bedroom is excellent, my neighbors were kind enough to allow me to connect to their wifi, and I live very close to several very wonderful and helpful trainees. Here’s a running list of all the ways life is good right now.
- School practicum couldn’t be better. Not only am I sharing a classroom with one of my favorite fellow trainees, but our Colombian counterpart is the actual best at what she does. Plus, the classroom has A/C!
- Speaking of one of my favorite fellow trainees, Kellie and I led The Tiniest English Class on Saturday, covering greetings, farewells and some courtesy words. Several other trainees have launched little English classes in their communities, but I was a concerned about leading one in Santo Tomas. Trainees are divided into pueblos based on language ability, and those of us at the lower levels have had the great fortune to live among the extremely patient people of Santo Tomas. But it’s one thing to be unable to tell your host mom a story from your childhood — Leading a small class in a language you’re far from fluent in is another thing altogether. Our class of four students seemed to really enjoy what Kellie and I had planned and were so, so gracious with our Spanish.
- A man offered me the tiniest kitten and I ALMOST DIED. Definitely did some scheming to try to figure out a way to keep the little guy.
- My host mom, Rosa, makes THE BEST LIMEADE I’VE HAD IN MY LIFE. Juice is a way of life here, so that’s been pretty cool. Check out this delicious, fuity-iced-tea creation I had for lunch:
- The Folklore Parade passed in front of my house:
- Part of our training is to coordinate a community project. It’s supposed to be a Thank You to our host community. It’s been said that members of our training communities can sometimes feel like they’re getting the short end of the stick — we’re only here for three months, and we’re definitely on the receiving end of investment and instruction. Community projects enable us to give back, even if it’s just a little, to people that have invested so much in us. They’re supposed to be sustainable; our role is to jumpstart a project that community members can carry on after we’ve left.
All those nice things being said, community projects can be a considerable source of angst for trainees (read: me. A considerable source of angst for me.) Where do you even start? How do you have conversations about the needs of a community when you’re still learning the language? It’s not like someone’s just going to walk up to you in a park and be like, “Hey, we have a group of young people we’d like to mobilize. Can you help us hold some talks on personal finance and sustainability, or perhaps work with us to teach English or proofread grant proposals?”
Except, that’s exactly what happened the other night. So, we’ll be meeting with those guys soon to figure out what needs to be done and when we can get started.
- Completely last-minute, I got to ride along in a mule cart in the Carro De Mulas parade. I got kicked out 10 minutes later once the mule got tired, but it was cool while it lasted.
- We’ll be having a Valentine’s Day gift exchange tomorrow. We had an impromptu crafting session today during Community Project Planning hour and I was super impressed by what my colleagues can whip up with colored paper and scissors.
- MY HOST AUNT MADE ME A CUMBIAMBERA SHIRT FOR CARNAVAL CHECKIT.
It’s certainly not been all sunshine and rainbows.
There have been some low points. No one showed up to this week’s English class, for one. There have been long days, discouraging days, intense discomfort (no, not actually talking about acute diarrhea…. yet), misunderstandings, and insurmountable language barriers. The days simultaneously seem far too long to stay awake for, and too short to get everything done. We all feel like our staging event in Miami was a thousand years ago, but it feels like April 7th is coming on way too fast.
But, paradoxically, I’ve never been happier. Every day is riddled with blessings in the last places I was expecting to find them.
And, until I figure out how to add footers:
The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Colombian Government.