This past week has been a paradox – a bittersweet goodbye and an uplifting hello. I left my home of 22 years and moved to Peru, which will become my home for the next couple of years.
The Bittersweet Goodbye
My last week at home was absolutely amazing. It was jam packed with my going away party, my dad’s birthday and many surprise appearances from some sneaky people.
The going away party was one for the books – filled with my favorite people, a great band, crazy hats and fireball. Special thanks to everyone who came and who traveled from all corners of the country for one last shabang – from California, New York, Wisconsin, Washington DC, Chicago and all over Ohio – I love you all and it met so much to me. Also props on the surprises Nick, Lauren, Kathleen and Hayley – you got me! The following day was spent celebrating my wonderful father’s (Big Jimmy) birthday by attending our favorite sporting event, an OSU football game. Even though it ended up in a loss, I couldn’t have asked for a better day with my favorite man. Sidenote: In the middle of singing the star-spangled banner, I teared up (loser…I know) as I realized I am also saying goodbye to my beautiful country, not just the wonderful people in my life.
And finally, Sunday was the end to not an only amazing weekend but a spectacular summer. The bitter part came with tears as I said goodbye to many people who have made such a meaningful impact on my life, but the sweet part came from their undying support of my new journey. Hence, the effect of a bittersweet goodbyes – tears and many of them.
The Uplifting Hello
The small sting from the goodbyes still hung around as I walked into the staging event in Washington DC. But it was quickly uplifted as I met the 58 other volunteers who are about to start this crazy journey with me, and will no doubt soon turn into my PC family. Everyone’s positive attitude and undying passion has truly inspired me even more as I begin this experience.
The past two days we have spent at a retreat center outside of Lima getting the overview of many aspects of Peace Corps and also getting to know one another. These are some of the most impressive and passionate people I’ve ever met. I can’t lie that I am also a little intimidated by all their qualification and experiences, and that I will be working within the same position as many of them.
It has been a great couple of days getting to know the other volunteers by connecting through Spanish struggles, laughing yoga, dancing circles, music jams, and how we all are bound to shit our pants during our service. Tonight, could not have ended the retreat better with many of us joining Peruvians dancing/singing around a large fire.
Overall, my first moments in Peru have made me anxious for what is yet to come. And yet another hello awaits me tomorrow. I am meeting my temporary host family that I will be living with for the next 11 weeks, and I am excited and anxious to meet them. All I know is that I have 3 brothers (ages 25, 21, and 12) and 2 parents, so let’s hope my broken Spanish makes a little bit of a good first impression on them! Wish me luck!
Until next time,
FYI – As training starts I may not have as much time/access to Internet so if you need to contact me look below. Note the change of address from my first post – but they both work – this is the preferred one! Also, if you want to send me packages (Mama Hack – this is to you) ask for specific instructions and I will send them your way.
Mailing Address: all letters/snail mail welcome please!
PCT – Jamie Hackbarth
Calle Los Cedros 647
Lima 8, Peru, South America
I also with be using viber & whatsapp within WiFi, so you can also text me via that. iMessage works too!