Sunday, January 6, 2013

Close of Service

October 2012

I know that people will be asking me about what my Peace Corps service was about.  I won’t have the time or even be able to fully explain to them what happened to me in my 2 years.  But I will be able to offer this take away:

Building Relationships

Peace Corps service to me is about development through building relationships.  The relationships that I built with the people there is what is going to play a huge factor in their development.  They are always going to remember that they built a rainwater catchment system with Moises.  They are going to remember who introduced a composting latrine to them.  They are going to remember how I showed them a bucket of sh*t to prove to them that composting latrines don’t smell. 
But aside from work, they are going to remember that Moises wanted to hang out with them.  They are going to remember that for 2 years Moises was excited about going to their fincas, going fishing, learning about canastas, and liked to make jokes.  I became a son, a primo, a cuñado, a friend, an uncle.  I know that we both value this relationship, and that we have enriched each other’s lives by knowing each other.

Composting latrines are going to be built and used in Alto Playón, we have more work to do to realize that.  Families are going to build themselves better rainwater catchment systems.  What will get them there?  Not money, not projects, not grants – but the relationships that we have created.

I leave my site not only proud of the work that I have done along with my community, but proud of all the work that my fellow Volunteers in Panamá have done and are continuing to do.  The Peace Corps is the toughest job you will ever love.

Therefore, I humbly end this blog.

Host Families

October 2012

I made sure to get pictures with all of the people I was closest with throughout my service.  You have enriched my life and I hope I have enriched yours.

Leaving Alto Playon

October 2012

I’m writing this post as I sit on my last bus ride from the Darién, and an unexpectedly emotional day.

I was almost on my way out.  I made my last minute visits, took the best photos with Misa, and I stopped to visit Chicheme’s house for the last time.  It was just his kids there at the time, who I have been very close with.  My favorite little boy Geraldo crawled into my arms and hugged me.  He wouldn’t let go when I pulled back and we exchanged our affection for each other.   In that minute I had rush of emotions flow through me like a 1000 megavolts of electricity that brought me to tears.

I couldn’t stop, and am watering back up as I write this.  I said good-bye and walked back to my hut and broke down in tears for 20 minutes.  It was a fusion of emotions that I’ve never felt before:  happiness, sadness, excitement, pride, pain.  I suppose I needed to that to happen.

I tried to gather myself back together and walked out to the Casa Comunal where everyone was in a meeting.  I looked from the outside in the community talking about a coffee project.  It was obvious to them that I had been crying a bit.  After a while, I walked away and it was fine.  I had some water in my eyes as I left, and people came and said good-bye for the final time.  Misa, Irasema, Leidis, and Celideth left me at the port.

As I tried to take my last picture, my camera read:  “Memory Card Full.”  

Indeed.  As Alto Playón and I depart full of fond memories of each other.