Simply put, I feel very happy right now.

I just changed host families (I’m on my fourth host family now), and it just feels completely different from any of my other families. Or at least my last two families. I feel like this host family actually wants me in their house, and respects me as a person. I’m still trying to get out of the habit of pretending I don’t exist when I’m home with the host family, but other than that, things are going well.

I also have the right to cook my own food in this house, which is making a huge impact on how I see things. Just having control over something as small as what I eat every day makes me feel like more of a person. Today I made beans and a cream of spinach soup, which at one point resulted in a bit of a spinach explosion, but I was able to clean that up before anyone noticed. And I fed some to my host dad.

My host family also shared some peto with me the other day, which is one of the more delicious substances in la Costa, but which I’ve only had twice. It’s basically large puffy corns in a sweet milky base with cinnamon and tastiness.

Another source of great happiness has been going back to school. I know there are many things to complain about at my school (which some of the other teachers have made vocally clear in our last few staff meetings), but I can’t help but compare this year to last year.

The staff meetings are exactly the same, ranging from people shouting at each other for various reasons, a teacher’s one year old eating the erasers off of all my pencils, trying to impeach the principal, complaining about the conditions of our school and throwing the word “strike” around a lot. But whereas last year, I was just trying to make myself small in a corner so no one would shout at me in Spanish, this year I was able to understand a lot of nuggets of information within the loudness. This year also, I came in knowing what I was getting into, and with a head full of dreams and goals for the coming year. I know the teachers I’m working with, and have picked them specifically because they are the most hard-working and interested in what I can offer.

I have so much more optimism about this year, and really can’t wait to just jump right in. No observation period necessary.

This is why Peace Corps sends us here for two years. This feeling of optimism at the top of the second year.

Other programs might send teachers to another country for a one year commitment, but how much of my first year did I spend just trying to figure out how things work and how I fit in here, and how I can get people to like me? This second year is going to be exponentially more impactful, more interesting, and more inspiring. I believe it.

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