Monday, August 4, 2014

Officially a Peace Corps Volunteer

With great pleasure I am now able to say that I have officially begun my journey as a Peace Corps volunteer. As if packing up and moving to Paraguay wasn't enough, I survived the training process an am now living and working in the Southern city of Encarnacion.

Of course the goodbyes from training were bittersweet. Our training group of 25 bright, diverse and like-minded individuals from all parts of the US is now dispersed throught Paraguay, after sharing our first two and a half months together. For me, the hardest part was leaving my host family who not only opened their home but also their hearts to me while I was there. I spent my last day in Villeta visiting my 91 year old grandmother, still sharp as a tack, and my last night snuggled in bed with my host sister and mom like I had always been part of their family.  Generosity is not limited by language or culture and is a truly universal human characteristic. 

I arrived at my site after 6 hours on a bus to a plethora of opportunities, now all I need to do is a comprehensive community study and spend some serious face time with anyone willing to share a terere session with me. I kicked off my time here with a two-day conference centered on the importace of being a volunteer, which for me was not only fitting but inspirational to be surrounded by young Paraguayans who are truly changing their world. It was difficult not to jump in with enthusiasm during every activity, but instead I chose to observe and will continue to do so until the big picture of who, where and what I will be working with comes into focus. 

For now I would like to extend a thank you to all who encouraged me along the way and everyone involved in the process of me being here. I am seeing so many possibilities on the horizon of the next two years and look forward to sharing my experiences and learning life lessons along the way.