So I went to the states. I won’t dwell on it much other than to say that I think it was just what I needed!
My wonderful parents gave me the resources necessary to fly home and have a very comfortable and enjoyable stay in New York. Some fun little parts:
- I stepped out of the airport to wait for my brother to pick me up and literally had tears come to my eyes due to the extreme upstate New York cold, turned my tail around and went back into the airport. It was JUST that cold. I spent the first 24 hours with a t-shirt, sweater, sweatshirt and two jackets on. Slowly I shed layers throughout the trip but never once took my winter hat off. It was pretty miserable and cold. Good think I got to head back to the Caribbean soon after my arrival!
- My family spent the first four nights of my time home together. Literally my whole immediate family. We’re talking big dinners, too much food, gift exchanges, sitting drinking wine and beer, swapping stores, and then on the fourth night? Sitting in awkward silence because we kind of ran out of things to talk about. I didn’t realize it was possible but one can actually have TOO much time with the family. We arrived at a Dominican Style sit around in silence until someone has a nonsequitor to add to the conversation…before returning to silence. I was perfectly comfortable with it since that’s kind of how I spend my days down here.
- I ate so much food. 13 days = 6 lbs.
- I was lucky and got to catch up with some friends from high school whom I haven’t seen in anywhere from 2-6 years. So that was pretty excellent. It was nice to catch up with some young folks who are all doing cool things around the world as well. Film school in New Zealand? Computer science conferences in Russia? PhD programs in Brooklyn? All very humbling and a good reminder that the world continues on, and quickly, while I sit down here and play Dominos J
- I spent a day at my sister’s High School (where she teaches Spanish). For the last year and a half I’ve been skyping in from the Dominican Republic to talk with her students about life in a Spanish speaking country, life as a Peace Corps volunteer and all that cool stuff. We’ve even been able to facilitate some exchanges between my youth groups and her students, both via video-chat AND by sending home-made posters and snacks back and forth through the mail. It has been an amazingly rewarding experience. So the opportunity to actually meet in person her students was beautiful. I spent most of the school day answering questions, showing money, presenting my youth’s posters, chatting, making a fool of myself and compartiendo with the kids. I got to meet a group of students in a club called Prism, a sort of diversity/LGBT/Acceptance group at the high school, and a group of jovenes me invito a un dodgeball tournament afterschool (to which I briefly stopped by). It was a great time, so shout out to Marcus Whitman High School Language Department! Y’all were great, thanks so much for hosting me and I can’t wait until the next time!! Hopefully I’ll be able to bring some Glucose/Nice cookies or something.
^^The Lovely Fam…
So then I got back. I was worried about the potential depression that often plagues volunteers upon returning from heavenly trips to the United States. Amazingly (up until now…about 5 days in) I am feeling GREAT! My trip to the states was a perfect little energizer for me. It was my first time home in 17 months and I arrive back to my own home feeling ready to hit the ground running. In fact…that’s just what I did.
I arrived to Santiago at 12:30 in the afternoon and at 2:30 I was in a meeting with the other coordinators for Camp Superman West. We’re planning a three day camp for our Chicos Superman groups (boys initiative). I got back to La Culata on a Thursday and Friday afternoon had a boys meeting, Saturday had a girls’ meeting, spend Sunday at the market, meeting with my regional coordinator for the Healthy Homes initiative, climbing grapefruit trees and cooking Asopao with my neighbors. It’s guandules season (pigeon peas) and so La Culata is overflowing with pea-pods ready to be “de-grained”. It’s one of my favorite pass-times. I can go from house to house chatting with people while we get our fingers dirty and gross peeling them. Then, inevitably, I head home with a full stomach from some lunch or dinner and a bag full of fresh pigeon peas (surprisingly full of vitamins and protein). So I’ve been spending time inventing new recipes for guandules.
On Wednesday we have our, “Start of the New Year/Kick Off Dinner” with my local womens’ group to get going again with our workshops. I’m in charge of baking a cake and planning the program. Thursday is my second to last charla with my FAVORITE Escojo Mi Vida group, and next week my Chicas group is taking their final exam for the course to see who is ready to graduate.
Aside from groups, I’ve decided to change up the basketball court project, and rather than resurface, we’re going to clean it, repaint it, buy new backboards and hoops, and install lamps for evening basketball play. It will be WAY cheaper, and easy to get done within the next two months or so (…so if you’re in the giving mood, just let me know J)
So to say that things are busy, well, that would be an understatement. But, honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
As for me personally, I’m great. I’ve decided to hit 2013 running, literally. A fellow volunteer informed me of a sweet half-marathon in Punta Cana! So training starts TODAY! I don’t know if I’m more excited about the chance to train for another half-marathon or the excuse to travel out to Punta Cana (a world famous resort town). Wish me luck. I also get to look forward to a great friend from Ohio State visiting for some fun in the Caribbean sun for a weekend.
Life, work, health, happiness. It’s all there, and all chugging along. I attribute quite a bit of it to my amazing family and friends from back home who constantly give me support and constantly keep me in check.
Hope all is good for everyone. And remember, it’s a two way street. I keep y’all informed of what I’m up to, but I like to hear what’s happening in the states and with the readers as well. I especially like hearing updates via SNAIL MAIL! So check out my mailing address in the above links of the blog.