Many of you have found out my Peace Corps service in Honduras came to an end earlier this year due to safety/security concerns in country. However, before I continue with that I want to share the greatness that were my final months in site. AAAhhh how I love my site...and my job....and my counterparts...and my site friends & family. :) I will miss Honduras dearly.
|Practicing their numbers in English while playing a game|
|When in need, improvise. Notice his shoes (probably his only pair).|
October provide for some cultural exchange. The Monday class was invited to investigate Halloween (a taboo for most religious Hondurans). It was completely optional and was open to interpretations. I challenged students to investigate the origin behind the holiday, the activities/food associated with the festivities, and compare it to Dia de los Muertos celebrated in many Latin countries. Keep in mind, the class had several highly conservative Catholics and Evangelical. I was happily surprised to see several teachers stay for the session including some that went out of their way to prepare a presentation, including traditional food for each holiday. :) At the start of the next class, a teacher spoke up and shared she'd learned a lot about Halloween and no longer felt afraid. CHECK!
(My camera broke..no pics)
November was a very long month. It's the final weeks of the academic calendar and the weeks before the holiday festivities start up in town. TEAM classes had to be extended to ensure we covered all the material and could hold our closing ceremonies by the end of the month. I was feeling very overwhelmed trying to wrap up class, complete paperwork for the Ministry of Education, and help out with the planning of the clausuras. The level one class did an incredible job with their ceremony....sound system, picture slide show, poetry dedication, many speeches, and even some karaoke! ...wait, how could I forget....lots and lots of dancing!! I loved it!
(Still no camera..boo!)
|Marimba concert at the central park|
The days went by quickly and before I could prepare my departure to Mexico was around the corner. This also became a time of many uncertainties. Two days before my flight Peace Corps staff was calling to ensure I had the most direct transportation to the airport, a red flag something was happening. By the following day we came to understand Peace Corps was concerned with the safety/security situation in country. A flood of emotions took over me and I ended up in tears most of the day. To think, just days ago I had said farewell to many of the most important people in my life thinking I'd see them after my short vacation. Now, I had to board a plane without knowing if I would see them again, nor would I know if I was going to continue living the life I came to love. Ahh!
|Very special Christmas dinner with my Gavarrete familia :)|
Fortunately, I was able to return to Honduras for a few days. Just enough time to empty out my apartment and gather my stuff, but I was able to kinda explain the situation in person to my closest friends/family. The following was a three day conference with all active volunteers and Peace Corps staff, both local and from the central office. Everyone was really great in helping us understand what was going on, what would happen next, and how to best adjust when returning home. I most appreciated that we were all going through the same roller coaster together.
|Oh Honduras, you were good to me :)|
It is what it is. Mind you I can say this now because weeks have passed...but let me add that I was completely heartbroken at the time! As one of the most dedicated volunteers (voted "workaholic" and "most likely to complete another Peace Corps service" by fellow volunteers, not to mention "best cook" and "best host"), it was devastating to see it end so abruptly. Keep in mind, I was in Mexico during most of the commotion. I didn't have the time to transition or wrap up my service like most others.
|Abuelita with her little Catrachita|
I've been home for a few weeks now. My readjustment is slowing taking place. I am still surprised by the simplest things....always having toilet paper in the bathroom, clean streets everywhere, cars that stop at street corners, you name it. I am very grateful to have this time with family/friends to reflect before walking the path to the next great adventure. I have spent some time in classrooms volunteering for one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Weichert at my old middle school. I was able to volunteer at Challenge Day, an experiential day long program that aims to get kids to connect, to notice the life they are living, to choose to make a change if they are unhappy, and to motivate them to act on that desire. A true life-changing experience for them and for me. :) Most recently, I spent time in an Los Angeles charter school where several of my good friends work. I was able to present on the Peace Corps to the group of 8th graders. Their eyes lit up as I went through slides sharing pictures and stories. I challenged them to get involved in their community by volunteering during Peace Corps week.
|At my fav place (Cheesecake Factory) with a fav friend (Susy).|
February 15th marked my last day of service. I'm officially a "returned Peace Corps volunteer". You may be asking yourself, "So what's next Monica?" For so long I lived my times planned out, knowing where each step would take me, and so far it has led me to great opportunities and even greater people...I have faith my path will continue this way :)
|Peace Corps Honduras H17 2010 - 2012|