prometo esforzamente por afianzar vínculos de afecto y solidaridad con el pueblo nicaragüense, mediante el respeto mutuo y una verdadera vocación de servicio.
por dios. por la patria. por la paz.
after 24 months from initially submitting my application to the peace corps, i have finally become a peace corps volunteer! it involved 3 months just waiting to be interviewed, a year of waiting to finally be cleared for service, and then another 6 months of waiting to leave once i had my invitation in hand. at some points i wasn’t even sure it was ever going to happen. i thought that once i got on the plane, i was golden. finally on my way to peace corps service. i arrived to find out that wasn’t the case. i had become an aspirante del cuerpo de paz and the next three months were going to train and test me to make sure that i wanted to do this job, and to make sure they wanted me to do it. so it was no small feat arriving at this point.
about twelve weeks ago i had just finished moving out of my house and moving most of my possessions to my parents’ garage. i was running around trying to tie up loose ends and buy some last minute supplies before leaving in the morning to head to DC to meet up with the rest of my training cohort. i had no idea what was going to happen, and i felt incredibly nervous. “why the hell did i think this was a good idea?” kept running through my mind as i thought about the life i was leaving behind. i trusted myself and the fact that i had made the decision in a much better, more reasoned, state of mind instead of the panic i was feeling at that moment. plus, this was the opportunity i could never pass up. i would have hated myself if i had turned it down.
i managed to pack the important things of my life into three bags, said my goodbyes and headed to the airport. PC had always seemed like an awesome thing, and now it was a reality. i realized the gravity of what i was doing. i was leaving fairly comfortable life in the states to live in the developing world with much different conditions for two years. the adventure had started, and i finally was on my way to PC service after 21 months of waiting.
what exactly happened in training? tons of stuff. almost every day we had things planned, whether it was language class, tech sessions learning more about the curriculum we are teaching, actually teaching class, or working with a group of kids to form a microempresa and guiding them through the commercialization process. it was crazy. most days started at 8am and didn’t finish until around 6.
specifically with the youth group, we had about 12 kids who came twice a week as we discussed things like idea generation, market studies, costing, budgeting, marketing/packaging, plus “life skills” charlas about decision making and communication skills. i went into the project not quite sure i had any idea how to guide these kids through this process, but it turned into one of the better parts of training and most fun. i would joke with the kids and talk about how i love eskimo, a local ice cream shop here, and they thought it was hilarious. as a result they always joked with me about how i go to eskimo all the time. our group ended up taking third place in the competition between all the training groups!
during training i quickly realized that i have made 28 new friends. the intense process of training has brought us all together at a much faster pace than other friendships may develop. we went through the same experiences, and were able to share our frustrations and struggles together. especially with the business volunteers, considering we saw each other at least three times a week.
we were able to spend all weekend in managua after swearing in hanging out and celebrating this major milestone; all the while none of us wanted to leave the friends we had. it was comfortable to be with each other. we celebrated finishing training and wondered what the next two years will hold for each of us. i think we all were anxious about heading out on sunday to our sites. after spending such an intense time together saying goodbye to everyone was rough. still, we managed to head out on sunday on our own. we all were ready to get to our sites and get to work.
looking back, many of my worries from 12 weeks ago seem so far away. in a lot of ways it seems like i have been here for such a long time. i'm embracing life here in nicaragua. it's amazing to think of how far things have come since arriving. it seems like yesterday and an incredibly long time all at once. i don't expect this experience to be easy, but i expect it to be unlike anything else i've done, and something that most people only dream of doing. nothing worth doing is easy right? work starts at 7am. what will it be? no idea, but it will be an adventure. even more than it has been already. i’m so excited that this has finally come!