We swore in on June 30 and the week before and after were together as a whole group. There were plenty of good times being had by all, seeing as we very rarely had the opportunity to see everyone from group 63. The saddest part was leaving our training community so abruptly. Our families didn’t understand why we were leaving the NEXT morning…selfishly we were all excited to be in a place with running water, air conditioning and windows!
After Swear In we had a final session for training in the city and then were given a few days to relax. Nearly our entire group of 46 people headed to the same beach. It was awesome! We got to relax and spend time together as adults, not trainees, not random “gringos” trying to learn Spanish. Haha. We could sit and have a meal, speak English and just be ourselves.
My birthday was amazing. My friends made it an incredibly special day, definitely ranks among top birthdays of all time. It definitely helped that everyone was so relaxed and happy to be with each other…and silently freaking out about leaving the next day for our communities solo!
I spent the night in a city on the way to my site with other volunteers in my group who are just as far out there as I am! It definitely made it difficult to go to my site after two weeks of fun and English. And the extra night, due to travel time, only added to the nervousness. I fell in love with my group and really did not want to leave any of them.
I showed up to the town closest to my community, about an hour away and the directora/teacher of the primary school and my community guide/host mom picked me up! It was nerve racking everything became so real, very quickly. All these emotions came flooding over me and I couldn’t distinguish one from the other.
I was happy to be starting my service, I was SO sad to leave my friends and I was so nervous. My Spanish had gotten worse, this only added to my nerves. I started worrying about how good of a volunteer I would be…would the people ever really get to know me? Do they want me here? Do they care that I am here? WHAT AM I DOING?! Two years and I don’t know anyone. How am I supposed to help them when I have so much to learn from them? When I got to the house, I crashed on my bed and slept for nearly 2 hours. A much needed rest considering my emotional exhaustion. Maria woke me up informing me that there was a party at the school for me; they threw me a birthday/ welcome to the community party! There was a dinner, cake, piñata, drinks, balloons, signs and people brought me birthday gifts. Totally mind blowing. These people are amazing.
I have been here for a week now and slowly I am starting to get hold of what things will be like. Everyday brings a different knot in my stomach and then I remember:
JUST BREATH, JUST BREATH
This is the hardest job I will ever love, right? Haha. My language is going to be stellar with a few more weeks. I am going to meet everyone with time and patience. I will form friendships and this will become my home. Just like every new place I have ever lived. Not having an exact schedule is so difficult. Not having a boss hovering, demanding specific work from you is incredibly hard as well. Ironic as it may sound, the flexibility can really start to get to you. Failure seems inevitable.
So, I have started to come up with miniature goals from week to week. Eventually these goals will become much larger and I will have a tangible project, however nothing can happen without the necessary relationships in place. It is scary and wonderful all at the same time when you realize just how important your relations with the people around you are…
I am going to learn so much about life here than I could have ever imagined when I applied for Peace Corps.