Monday, September 27, 2010

Birthdays and Roadtrips!

Myles and I decided to use some vacation days, rent a car and enjoy the freedom of the road this past weekend. Myles got to surf a bit at a beach near by although the weather was crumby. 
We got to spend some time in a friend's Peace Corps community for one of the most cultural festivals in Panama. It was amazing from the singing, dresses, dances and bull fights! The weekend was a lot of fun and I am so content with our decision to go on vacation in Panama. Tonight we are going to celebrate the birth of Mr. Shuler with some Monday Night Football: Packers vs. Bears!!!! Wooohooo. Cait and Alan come in a little over a week and I can't really express my excitement. A post will follow in the weeks to come. Stay cool, as I sweat my behind off! Peace and Love from Panama. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Minor Updates

Lincoln and Bert (JWB) are doing well. They love each other more than they love me! We had a party at a neighboring elementary school for Dia del Campasino. I posted some pictures of the cultural dancing and dress. The kids were adorable!
This next week my middle school is part of an English Competition I have been preparing them for-wish us luck! And next weekend is the largest cultural festival in the country. Myles and I will be near by so he can surf for his birthday. Hopefully I will have some good pictures to share with you all afterward! Ok, bye for now.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Here Comes September Folks...

Sometimes all it takes is one person to make an effort, to change your attitude. Recently I have been struggling on different levels – missing home, attempting to apply to graduate school from Panama with no Internet access, trying to balance my duties as a part of Peace Corps and being a community member. Trying to remain positive and motivated, always having a smile on my face has recently caught up with this Volunteer. The best way to describe it, I feel defeated, deflated. Basically I am an old flat tire tossed in a ditch on the side of the Interstate! Man oh man these people weren’t kidding about the difficulty of the job when I was applying. As volunteers we often refer to our service as a rollercoaster. One day you are up and just as easily the next you feel like the algae on the bottom of your water bucket.
August was a tough month and the fall is looking just as rough, therefore I am taking some of my own advice. I am going to write about how I am feeling and I am going to list the bad and the great parts of my life right now…

It has taken me a long time to truly understand my community, more specifically my role as the American or gringa here. As a Volunteer I have work that is expected of me in my community as well as on an office level. Add this to attempting to apply to graduate school, juggling vacation and visits from friends and family, trying to see my boyfriend, needless to say I don’t feel capable of catching up. Nor do I feel that it is possible to be great at all of these things. Mainly because it is not possible for me to be everything to everyone and I hate it. The multi-tasking, perfectionist in me somehow believes I am completely capable of doing it all perfectly well because I keep taking on more commitments! My main issue is the fact that I only have nine months left to do all the things I want to do in my community AND to see all the parts of Panama I have yet to visit. Who can I borrow some time from?!
It is a weird feeling, the growth I feel. It is as if I grew from baby to adult in less than two years and no longer fit into anything I own. At the same time I am not quite ready to get rid of my belongings. I just recently fell into the complete swing of things and already I am on the next chapter, already I have to start figuring out what my life will look like next.
My frustrations:
-I feel like I have spent so much time explaining what my job is that I never really got to start my job until now.
-My Spanish is ok. Definitely not where I had the benchmark set for myself.
-I am working with Middle School students and can honestly say I have never experienced such a lack of motivation, EVER.
-I am exhausted as an English teacher. I am beginning to resent my first language. Seriously, that is not cool.
-We have not had running water for over a month now. Gross.

Looking at the Bright Side:
-I started an awesome leadership development group for girls in my middle school and it is going smashingly.
-Today a student came to my house because he wants to participate in the English Contest in David in September. He left my house and I heard him reading the poem in English out loud on his walk home.  It is difficult to put it into words but that boy brought me back to the basics today. His enthusiasm, his willingness, his sincerity are all reasons I am doing what it is I do.
-If I do get accepted to any of the graduate programs I am applying to I will be given the opportunity to continue development work from a whole new level.
-I have been able to have visitors come visit me, and that would have been very different in the Republic of Georgia.
-No matter how good or bad my Spanish may be, I speak Spanish now. WOOHOO. Right?
-Money never has and never will determine who I am or what I become. Let’s be honest all I have ever really known is being broke. I would just be awkward if I had a plethora of money.
-There is an awesome breeze right now and my kitten is sleeping on my lap.

Well, as you can see the good clearly out weighs the bad. But is that not normally the case? My life is so different here and I love it. I miss home quite a bit but will be there soon enough! Suppose I’ll just keep on truckin’… gotta keep yo head up Bubba.

Okay, time to study for the GRE like yesterday! Peace Out Homies.