The New year was beautiful, it was nice to explore, feel the breeze on your face, spend time with friends and to laugh at yourself.
Back to School
Overall, traveling can be transient, as you never know when you will see the friends you meet along the way again. And the other aspect of Guatemala is everything is constantly changing. This aspect, is challenging and also comforting. Comforting because the people you meet - open, kind, and curious- as they take the time to get to know you. A lesson, I have learned is to stay present, you learn to appreciate people in front of you as you are.
Last year, I began walking to my Aldea school which was 30 minutes from the entrance of the main highway. Near the gas station, there was a tienda, a gas station, and a soccer field a few feet down. In front of the restaurant was the Micro stop where I made friends with Maria, the woman who ran it. I returned on the first day to ask for her as my first day back. When I walked up, there were three young people staring and smiling. Not in a friendly way but in a way you could tell they were teasing you.
I asked "Maria, esta?" They all looked at me and laughed and responded, “Que dice?”
“No,” They said” “O Gracias,” and then walked in the other direction.
I relished the 30 minute walks to the Aldea. It was a chance to exercise , quiet, and almost a space for a short meditation. I would think about how hot it was, but also the terrain, and the mountains that surrounded this pueblo (see picture above.) Some days, I would meet families, and women, and they would walk with me, and we would converse and we would learn about each other until they reached their destination.
On this particular, I arrived to be reunited with my Socio after the vacation. It was the registration day of the students, and the meeting day with parents as well. I didn't not participate in the meetings because the parents spoke predominately Ki'che (mayan languange). However, I could tell that my Socio appreciated my presence and support there. It was in the middle of the meeting, I learned of another surprise.
A parent was there not to participate but this time to announce his son would not be attending classes this semester. Sergio, he was one of the students I would have as a third year student this time around. His father shared that, Sergio would not be returning because the family was moving to the capital for work. They had a tienda there. I felt the heartache a litte. This was a student, who was so funny, and bright.
“El va a regressar proximo ano”, I asked.
“Si, vamos a viajar en la capital tenemos un tienda aya” –
He dad when proceeded to say, para mi there is no money but for you mucho dinero.
I gently smiled and shook my head. How did I kindly explain that not all American’s have money. I was sad but then began to reflect on the moments, I had with Sergio in his peers and how funny he was and made me laugh. But I also, I grappled with the fact that it would be those moments would be the last time I would see him. His Dad, signed the paperwork and kindly shook my hand and my Socio. Change is beautiful and then scary. I knew all it meant, was to the opportunity to create new memories with the students that were to come.
The parents wrapped up their meeting, and my Socio and I closed shop and walked out together. As much as I enjoyed the walks, I also recall being super exhausted by the end. I felt a sense of accomplishment but also a little bit of guilt too because, while I was venturing out once a week to exercise, this was how many Guatemalans lived their lives. Many walked to their houses, and work because they had no other choice. In that sense, I did not feel as strong.
Back to Work
The next day, was the first COMUDE meeting in the town center, where I work as well. It was much smaller, and quieter then what I remember in previous years. I also had the chance to sit with the Director of my school as well, which was really nice with a few uncomfortable moments. Uncomfortable in the sense that these meetings always seem to last a really long time.
During this meeting though, the director or sub-director of the muni, went through to find all of the names of people who worked on specific committee’s. Again, here was another change. As we went through each of the lists, some of her workmates were present and others were no where to be found. As they changed to work in different departments or municipo’s.
As I sat with the director from the school. We chatted a bit and we shared the same agenda/calender. So we could look at the dates as they scheduled the meetings through out the year. We sat there, and I learned little facets about the director that I did not know of before hand. I placed a photograph of my family in front of my adgenda. I pointed to it and showed it to her, as I said, it's my family. She said, "ah es su familia?, todos es son morenas?" I stopped and smiled yes, quietly thinking to myself why my family wouldn't be and also had to remind myself that she doesn't know any better. This is just one example of the many awkward moments, I encounter.
Mid Service Training
It always seems as if you are crushing life until you have to go to one of these events. You must grapple with the fact that you must see staff and all of your peers again. This time, it were reversed. During pre-service training you were all eager and you are welcomed and they say, "time to go over all of the threat's and scenarios' that could occur while you are in country." You leave for site and majority of the scenario's mentioned to you do happen. A year later....
You hear, "Congratulations! You made it one, year! You still one more year to go! What do you think you will do after you leave?" There is an immediate disconnect from the past, present, and future. As so much has changed. There is an overwhelming feeling of emotions. The only thing that comes to mind is that saying. It's okay, if the only thing you did today was breathe. In the end you realize you fall apart to build yourself back up because you can't be hesitant about who you are.
As we begin to discover who we are, we start to see what we have always known- what we truly want and need- "As we become more alignment with ourselves we start to get connected to our soul. We have often decided that people can't handle their truth and we have determined how they will react. We need to trust that those who can handle our truth will, and will stay with us on our journey and those who can't won't, and that's okay." MG
Change is hard, growing and evolving can be tough. Each of these uncomfortable moments we are being tested to see if we want to stay the same or truly grow. In these times, we can look and see where are we playing small?