Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Long Overdue Announcement

Yes, I agree, it's been way too long in posting. Sorry about that one...

Since Honduras, we've seen a lot - Presidential elections (the cleanest and most transparent in the nation's history), the Board of Directors came to visit, the world's greatest capoeira master is now passing through San Salvador (!!), we've shifted to the truly dry and hot season... I could keep writing and the list would get longer (with increasingly diminishing importance) to describe the beautiful, the frustrating, and everything in between.

The strange thing is it's those small, unremarkable moments that have led me to this conclusion: I am staying another year.

We are still in conversations with the folks at the Young Adult Service Corps, but I am clear that I will do whatever it takes to stay put. For the first time my head has had to catch up with my gut - to recognize that no matter how many rationalizations or arguments or experiences I have, there has been no negative experience that did not turn beautiful, no moment when I could escape the inescapable conviction that here in El Salvador, with Cristosal, is where I want (and need) to be.

I love the woman I am becoming here. Simple as that. I am learning to relax, to have compassion for my weaknesses and inability to meet my own perfect standards. I am learning fluent Spanish, to take care of myself, to love strangers, to smile in the morning because it's beautiful if for no other reason.

I am also discovering how a white woman from the United States can be truly useful to an NGO devoted to community empowerment abroad. I will not be the organizer, the one to understand the nuances of a conversation in a rural Salvadoran community of ex-combatants who suffered unbelievable horrors for longer than I've been alive. Most days, that's like Dory trying to speak "whale" in Finding Nemo. ThaaaAAAAAATssss reeeeeDEEEEEkuloooooooos. I am not a fish. (Ok, metaphor over, I promise).

But yet I feel used up. Every day I exhaust my stock of knowledge, always building up new ideas and abilities, simultaneously throwing in my not-so-hidden penchant for spreadsheets with a pile of systems thinking mixed with spanish translation and a dash of chemistry (groundwater contamination due to mining operations doncha know).

I'd like to conclude with the words of someone who has always been able to speak to my soul. Like any individual with an overpriced University education under my belt, my go-to philosophy comes from a tried and true source, one oft quoted by the wisest of men and women:
Sir Calvin and his trusty tiger Hobbes.

While many days in El Salvador can look like this:
Calvin: You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.

I always come back to:
Calvin: Everybody seeks happiness! Not me, though! That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world. Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria!

Thanks for reading

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