Some days I can’t believe I’ve been here this long. It’s going by so quickly and I know I haven’t been in site quite a year yet, but I’m getting there. I’m just finally starting to figure out how my time is best used here (I think) and coming up with some projects of my own that I want to start rather just doing the textbook Peace Corps programs so I know this next year is going to go by even faster!
At the same time, however, it does seem like a long time since I was in California. When I think of all the bucket baths I’ve taken, all the power outages I’ve been through, all the catcalls and kisses blown to me from men on the street, all the frustration I’ve felt feeling like I’m not doing enough, and all the projects I’ve tried or completed not going quite how I envisioned, it could seem like ages. I’m used to the bucket baths by now, and can even shower sometimes, have plenty of candles and my headlamp for the power outages, am getting really good at ignoring all the men on the street (even if it’s someone I know and they want to talk to me), and am coming to terms with the work I’m doing, so I chose to look at the bright side and think about all the things I’ve enjoyed and how quickly time flies when you’re having fun.
I’ve realized that the thing that I enjoy most here is working with my youth group that I started for the sex ed curriculum. We finished that back in December, had a wonderful closing ceremony that my parents got to be there for and decided to keep meeting once a month. In between those meetings I started having some of the girls over to my house and exercising with others, but there isn’t as much time for that now since they’ve started school again. The school year ends in November or October if the administration decides to cut the school year short, and start again in February. To keep working with them, I have decided to start a tutoring/study hour program where they have a few designated afternoons per month where they can come to my apartment to have a quiet place to study or to get homework help. I started this in reaction to the devastating that four of the ten girls in my group failed seventh grade. Four. Of the six who passed, one was already repeating and two others failed their final exams, only passing on a second try. I see so many improvements that could be made in the education system here, but since I am not in the position to make them, I will put a lot of effort into these girls with the goal of every single one of them passing this year.
I also want to put more effort into the youth group we have in Antigua. I helped out a lot with their meetings last year but want to become even more involved this year. The students come to the health center once a month for a health-related talk, but I would like to do some other activities with them as well. I want to do a world map project with them where we paint a world map on a wall somewhere in Antigua, but that will probably have to wait until the rainy season is over. I also want to take them along with my Yo Merezco girls to a leadership camp at the Copan Ruins once they’re done with school. I would run the camp with another volunteer, who would also bring her girls as well. This is just an idea at the moment and won’t happen for a while, but stay tuned. I really want to make it work.
I think one of the hardest things lately has been dealing with the feeling that I’m not doing enough. When I first came to Honduras I said that I knew that the changes I would hope to make would be small and would touch a few people rather than my entire town, but it’s a lot different to accept that now that I’m here. I knew that’s what I was supposed to say, but I didn’t know what it was like until I actually got here. I realize that I’m serving as a mentor for the girls I’m working with and that I’m supporting my friends in town just by being here and talking to them, but I think part of me is still looking for that big project that is going to make the huge difference I’ve been wanting to make. How am I supposed to know where the line is between setting high goals and being realistic?
I’ve just been taking it one day at a time and using time in my day to talk to my neighbors, the girls in my youth group, and my friends. I have plenty of time during my day and really enjoy choosing my own projects and my own path through these two years in Honduras. Looking out the window this afternoon at the beautiful valley that encompasses parts of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, I realized that life couldn’t be any better. I’ll get through the bad days, the frustrations with work, the endless catcalls, and I’ll be doing it all with a smile.
P.S. The picture is from Christmas Eve with some friends up on the mountain overlooking my town at sunset.