Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just Needed Munchkins, Leaves, Crayons, and the Big Guy

25 de marzo 2015
I'm almost speechless. And I'm laughing at myself for saying that because I know with how I feel, I'm going to write a lot. So maybe speechless is a lie. But I'm on a high. And don't want to come down. These last two weeks, moreso these last few days has been insanity. And I've loved every minute of it despite never having any free time. Last Friday was the first of our two teacher conferences. The ones I was in charge of planning (with the help of all my amazing volunteers, of course!). And it went beautifully. First, everyone showed up that we invited, including my director which was the first time he had participated despite me always inviting him, and including two people who weren't invited! Haha the charlas went great, the food arrived on time (that's super important!), and from what I've heard, some things are already being put into practice! I arrived home that night after a much needed beer and evaluation exhausted. I even went to sleep with my contacts in, waking up with one eye shut tight and hurting quite a bit. Oops! Now for my team to own this Fridays conference! I won't be there but I'm so excited to hear all about its success :)
Saturday I spent the day being a crazy planner. I have a charla with the new group next Saturday. I had English class on Sunday. And, my favorite part, I had to plan for today's shenanigans. What was that? Doing a model kindergarten class in front of 10 kindergarten teachers from all over this region. Last night I finished all my materials, and plans in hand, I headed to RestauraciĆ³n terrified to face 25 little 4 and 5 year olds with adult eyes watching and judging my every move. I may be a certified teacher but their planning is quite different and I won't lie, I've been out of practice for things like this. And may or may not have had bad experiences way back when.
Now this was originally planned for me to do it as if the teachers were the students, not actually with them. So this change was big. 25 isn't easy for anyone. The tecnico who I've been working closely with was late. And I'll admit it. I decided in my head that I wasn't going to do it because we were losing time. And I could just share my plans with the teachers, right? Wrong.
I always find it funny when God laughs at me and follows through with his plans anyways. The tecnico arrived and I offered my suggestion. She wasn't happy but went as far as going to find someone to take care of the kids so we could do it somewhere else. She couldn't find anyone (yep, the Big Guy). So, shaking uncontrollably, I was off! And this is where I lose words. No, it didn't go perfectly. They made fair suggestions (although some I don't agree with, sometimes we have to adjust because things like their curriculum, can't be changed haha). But the kids? Despite never meeting me before, were amazing. Behaved like little ones but nothing compared to my biggest fears going in. I received more hugs than I can count. I completely forgot that I was being watched. I drowned so happily and passionately in what I was doing. I was in my element. And God was laughing, saying, "Ha! And you thought you were going to get out of this!" I floated out of that room on the clouds of their laughter, enthusiasm, joy, intelligence, and one final group hug that I begged them for (from all 25 of them!). I didn't want to leave.
And although time got away, I didn't get to finish with my plans because the tecnico wanted to evaluate and share ideas together. I took pictures of all the things they wrote about me. And even a woman who has had 14 years of experience in inicial congratulated me and didn't have anything negative to say. My head and heart nearly exploded.
Forgive me. I don't mean to raise myself up. I just felt so incredibly doing this and the reactions and motivation I could see in the eyes of the teachers who I know struggle daily, was incredible. This is what I'm here for. This is what I'm supposed to be doing. I just needed a room full of munchkins, some leaves, crayons, and the Big Guy to work his magic to remind me of that. 
Tomorrow? I'm off to the capital for an entire month. Bittersweet but it's all a part of the plan. One month to help run training for the new group. I just hope I can honestly share my experiences and have some of the beauty that I see in between the ugly rub off on them. These two years have been the most difficult years of my life, but they've also been the most fufilling. I've never loved so hard people I barely know. And I want them to have the same feeling when their two years quickly come to a close.
Lots more work ahead of me. But so long as what I'm feeling right now is never forgotten, and I've got Him behind me laughing? I'm good to go.

Monday, March 9, 2015


9 de marzo 2015.  Change. It's an incredible, inevitable force that can confront you like a hail storm in the middle of December. Or pass through you like a soft spring breeze. Arriving in this country two years ago, it was like a hail storm. Climate. Language. Food. Culture. Relationships. Job. Expectations. And the concept of the change we seek that doesn't come as easy as we would like. It was constantly hitting me in pellets until I couldn't see and until I lost sensation in my skin.
But I have to say. Through these two years, the storm calmed and though change continued to happen, I became less affected by it. It hurt less. Shocked me less. And I've almost stopped recognizing it. 
Until now. Last week I went to the capital for our Closing of Service Conference. Three days of resume writing, learning of non-competitive elegability, and talk of how in the world we go back home after these crazy two years of change. I'm not going to lie, I checked out for most of it. And could only think of the change that I'm going to be seeing. Sooner than I'd like.
Campo to Capital. Paved roads. Anything I need, right around the corner. Transportation like it's everyone's business. A structured job (moreso anyways). Running water. 24/7 luz (almost). Salsa classes (hopefully!). Free workout center outside. 
I could probably keep going but the truth is? The tears have already started streaming down my face. Why? Because between all those things that I'm trying to see as positives, I think of all that I'm leaving.
The mountains. The cool air. And the cold nights. My sister. The twin boys and the fight against cancer. Baseball. My kids in and out of my house all the time. The hugs. The nights without luz where the stars become countless. The stillness. The coffee on the many porches. Teaching kids. Teaching adults. The lucha for the damn library. Meeting so many people daily. Riding in the back of pick-up trucks. Tina and her family in the middle of nowhere where coffee is always made upon arrival followed by whatever leftover food was made that day. Moto rides. Going to the colmado with munchkins and buying them a dulce. More hugs. My little house made of wood. My Dominican mother. Have I mentioned my kids? 

I know I made the right choice. And it's not like I can stay here forever. But imagining leaving them and only being a visitor rather than one of them? A part of them? I don't know how to do it. This change I no longer know how to face. And I don't know how I'm going to handle it. Because as of right now, I'm not doing such a good job.