Freshman Year

Tuesday 7.13.10

I’ve been in Guatemala a Little over 6 months now, which actually feels like a short period of time, but then I think about all I’ve done and experienced and it starts to feel more realistic. The next group of trainees will be swearing in this week, that’s the time when they go from living in Sacatepéquez in their training communities out into the real world and live by themselves, or in some cases with a work partner, and start doing real work. My group has therefore advanced from the “freshman stage” to the “sophomore stage”, or at least some of us have matured that amount. I feel like my first three months in site actually have resembled my freshman year in college. I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know anybody, didn’t speak the college language yet, did the freshman-fifteen, partied more than I really wanted to, and had a hard time getting work done. All these things have happened to me in the past three months here in Guatemala and I’m finally getting situated and comfortable enough in my life here to realize what’s going to change and what I am going to do to bring about that change.

One thing I’m going to take more seriously is my language learning. I still feel good about the fact that I have nearly 100% comprehension; though I know that when I speak my grammar is pretty terrible and I have trouble calling the words to my tongue that I want to use. I thought that language would just come naturally once I had a basic grasp on my vocabulary plus the fact that I’m speaking purely Spanish nearly all the time. This didn’t quite happen, but now that I know this I’m doing more active things to better it – like reading the paper as much as I can and asking questions of people rather than waiting for them to correct me (which they don’t, I believe out of courtesy, even though I’ve asked them plenty of times to always correct me).

Another thing I can start on with more gusto is my work. I received a visit from Flavio, my program director for the Peace Corps and basically my boss, last week and we had a great talk which included a lot of suggestions. We also bonded over insects, as he is an entomologist and I think insects are cool. I now have more direction in where to go and what to do the next following months as it pertains to environmental education, trash management, and progressing with our trails and forest. What I’d really like to accomplish, eventually, is write a management plan for the forest which would include plans for preservation, tourism, and education.

One thing I’ve noticed in the past is when my room and/or house is clean and organized I just generally live a happier, more productive, and more organized life. This messy-room stage is what I really hope to get out of as I progress to “sophomore year”. When I look at my room with a disheveled bed, clothes stacked on my table because I don’t yet have a dresser, newspapers stacked on my floor because I don’t want to throw them out, and buckets of dirty laundry because there’s been no sun for the past weeks so I can’t wash and dry my clothes I feel less motivated to be productive in other aspects of my life. I feel less motivated to cook healthily, go for my daily run, wake up on time and get to work on time, do my homework at night rather than the following morning, etc… There’s loads of stuff I could write, but basically, when the physical part of my life is more organized the other parts of my life fall in line also.

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