" If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." - Lilla Watson
Hasta pronto Guatemala. It's been a beautiful, interesting ride. Tommorrow I board a plane and walk off onto a whole new life. How do you say goodbye to three years? It's difficult to explain all this goodbye business to you. We come in to this country as naive gringos, some looking to spread the love, others looking to build their resumes. I think most of us just realized one day that something just wasn't quite right, so we hem.. joined Peace Corps. We land in Guatemala, and for the first few months, we doubt ourselves many times whether we can actually make it those whole two years. Through the first few months of training, we are like children again - learning to communicate, eat, be healthy and share cultures. At 18, we swear-in - we're on our own, off to our communities, spending our first few months getting to know our communities and culture. We learn to live simple, and that many of the harsh realities we see are intertwined with beauty and aweness. We grow wiser and by our second year, we find ourselves giving advice to newer volunteers ans find that we actually know what we're talking about. We now feel more at home in our village than when we've come to visit you in the US. We learn that nothing, no money, no donation can ever help Guatemala if we are not empowering, involving its people and its culture. We learn to grow cynical of money, hippie backpackers, IPHONES and of outside influence in general. Slowly, we learn to share their laughs and feel their pain. We come to be dependent upon our community and we realize that hey, dependency can actually be a GOOD thing. We teach, and yet we learn even more from people who have not even graduated high school.
It's difficult to pin an exact point through that whole process where we've exactly fallen in love with our country and its people - whether it's those moments that you feel like you're in a bob ross painting, or singing word for word that new reggaeton song. But you fall in love and soon after that, you are told to actually go "home." Somewhere between that airplane and landing back in the US, we'll be back to age zero again. Once again, we'll have to readapt to a new culture, learn how to communicate, eat and live again. As for myself, I'll probably be some sort of hybrid child, not quite the one you remembered and a shadow of the person I was in Guatemala.
Gracias por hacerme nacer Guatemala. Y para Violeta Istacuy, una verdadera luchadora para la justicia y desarollo de su pais, que sigues luchando en el cielo.
Hasta pronto Guateland,