March flies to a close, and with it my time in Campur. My time lately has been a strange mix of the norm and the new as I continue to work in my schools and communities like always while simultaneously wrapping up my life here, piece by piece. It's become my top priority to leave things here as well "ordenado" as possible--I'm quite possibly the last volunteer that this community will see for years and I refuse to leave without crossing all of my T's. If nothing else I owe that to myself, to the community, and to those of you back home who have invested in my experience.
Luckily, those proverbial T's were relatively easy to cross when it came to the Pila project, the Bottle School, and my curriculum work in the schools. Some last minute meetings were had, some Peace Corps paperwork filed, but I can pretty much leave knowing that these projects are "done"--I say this relatively since it's a bit of a hope of sustainable development work that no project is ever really finished--projects can, and should, be in continuous motion, continuous progress.
As I've been running around this past month, busily taking inventory on my 20 months in site, I seem to have hopped on a mental see-saw of sorts. Half of the time I walk around seeing everything through rose-colored glasses, enjoying each steaming tayuyo as if it were my last, taking in the scenery on the hikes I've become to know oh-so-well, tearing up as locals tell me to stay. And the other half of the time I find myself thinking "it's time for me to go home." Home to the land of soy milk and yoga classes, the land where I will no longer be the lone Gringa towering awkwardly amidst a sea of Guatemalans (conversely during my rose-colored moments I wonder how I'll be able to handle the anonymity, the absurd wealth, the iPhones..) And then there are those rare and wonderful moments when I'm somehow able to balance myself awkwardly in the middle of the seesaw--and I realize that it is indeed time for me to leave, but that's it's not necessarily the end. I'll be back to Guatemala, just like I won't be going home to America forever either. A chapter is closing, and another one beginning. As much as a part of me wants to stay here forever, there's another part of me that knows that I can't--in some ways it's important that I leave, cut the Peace Corps umbilical cord for me and my community, push us to make the next steps on our own. My teachers and counterparts now armed with the textbooks, knowledge, and confidence; and me armed with 24 months of experience and growth. After all, it's important for locals to realize that I'm nothing more than a change agent--I brought ideas, information, and motivation to the table, nothing more, nothing less. I've often heard volunteers talking about how they feel that they leave their PC service having learned so much more than they were able to teach. And in the immediate sense, I'd completely agree. But while I leave here a changed woman, I hopefully leave the community with small bits and pieces that five, ten years down the line will snowball into bigger things. I changed at an American pace, and they'll change at a Guatemalan pace. Students I worked with may not be spouting off Youth Development information in their spare time but maybe, just maybe, that information will one day spark a potentially life-changing decision for them. Maybe, 10 years from now, they'll be the ones leading Youth Development activities in their community.
Remember Any's scholarship? Here's an update. With the help of FOG and a handful of extremely generous donors back home we were able to raise Q3,612.10 ($470 USD) for Any's scholarship fund, about 56% of the budgeted goal. It was all looking very promising, and then we got some bad news. The school in Coban where Any would be studying filled up--there were no more spots available. Distraught, we went back to the drawing board. Any could try to enroll in a different school in Coban, but Emilio is the best. So we settled on an alternative plan--Any would stay in Campur and study in Campur's small bachillerato program (equivalent to an associate's degree in the States), take weekend classes in typing and computer skills, and in another year, leave to study at the University. As for her scholarship money, she made me a proposal--since the costs of her studying in Campur's Bach. program would be significantly lower (no need to pay rent, etc.), she asked if she could share the funds with her younger brother, Gester, who would soon begin in Primero Basico (7th grade equivalent). I considered this. The year previous I had worked with Gester's 6th grade class and saw first hand what an exceptional student he was. Being Any's brother, he of course battles the same economic disadvantages. So I agreed to her proposal, with a few changes. Any and her brother are now both receiving small monthly stipends to help cover local school fees and school supply costs. Instead of lasting a year, the budgeted sum should last for nearly two. That is, if we can manage to raise the remaining 44%--$350.00.
How will the scholarship be managed in my absence? I have worked it out with FOG and Any's mother that the scholarship money be placed into a family bank account. Any will take out her monthly stipends from this account, keeping in touch with me via email and phone about her progress and any problems that may arise.
So if you'd still like to be a part in helping Any AND Gester continue their education, please please please consider donating a small amount to their FOG fund. All donations are tax deductible and will go directly to Any in the form of a monthly scholarship payment.
Donations should be sent to:
Friends of Guatemala
P.O. Box 33018
Washington, D.C. 20033
*Please write “Any Caal – Cat. II” in the subject line of the check so that Friends of Guatemala know which scholarship student the donation is for.
Thanks again for your continued support--I couldn't have done it without you!!
6 days ago