Last week we attended 4th annual Youth in Development Foro in Tecpan, Chimaltanego. It's where each volunteer brings two youth from their community and two adults (or work partners) to train with Peace Corps and get a better understanding of the project. It is great opportunity for the youth to leave their communities meet other youth and learn more about their country. Also a way to increase the capacity to support youth in the communities we work in.
We dove right into the important topics receiving charla’s and information on sexual healthy. Immediately feeling like a little girl in middle school again. Although, these topics are important they make many feel uncomfortable and make for awkward silences. Only those with great at humour can make these topics fun. Recalling my to the education I received on sexual health, in private school; I was taught sex was bad and not to have it. If I did, then there would be consequences. Of course, this is a general overview but how it went more or less. On the contrary, I live in a culture where these topics are complete taboo and youth receive little education on it and their parents do not approve of the promotion or education on sexual health. Here, was the challenge as teacher in my community of how to bridge the gap on how I would return back to my community and begin to teach these topics.
On the lighter note, it was time to leave behind those stresses and challenges we face in our communities, not take yourself too seriously, exist with your students and liders. It is nice how when you work with the youth, your ideal intention is to create a fun loving environment and safe space for the youth to foster their creativity, innocence, to nurture their development. However, in the same manner, you can vicariously experience those moments of adolescence with the students. But not in the way of wanting to be young again but this time as way to learn from the escapades of your youth that once haunted you. This time, you can learn from mistakes and seek redemption. I take a deep breath and name the fears preventing taking a step forward and remember,
“Everything you want is on the other side of letting go. You don’t hold because you like to hurt, you hold on because you need certainty. Because pain is familiar. But on the other side of that story that haunts you, are your dreams. On the other side of the walls you built is the love you so desperately crave ,yet fear. It’s time. Time to get the life you dreamt of. It’s time to rise. No more playing it small. It’s time.”
At the same time, I take myself out of the equation, and know that it is never about me. It is about my capacity to love, not someone loving me but my ability to love another. It is about how to love and getting to the root and intentions behind my service, becoming clear and acting on that intention. It is abut the power in connecting with others, appreciating the talents, and the skills of the youth and loving myself and them as they are. We were able to do this at foro by enjoying conversations by the fire, their company during movie night, encouraging their talents in the talent show. Last but not least, about coming together and the power of learning and discussing important themes to make our communities better.
I chose the photo above, and think most will agree because the best part of Foro was seeing fellow volunteers. It was beautiful seeing them outside of their communities and with their work partners in action. Beautiful, because as someone said we are now a family but also more beautiful because everyone is on their individual journey. Coming together and seeing how everyone has grown and will continue to grow is the most beautiful aspect of this experience.