Now and Then

Where was I a year ago today? Snuggled in a bed with my 7 roommates, accompanied by 20 neighbors/best friends, eating chipotle and getting ready to go out for Wine Wednesday, Country Night, or whatever themed discount alcohol night we could take advantage of. I was beginning my last month as a senior at thee marvelous Miami University…and by beginning….I mean I was going absolutely nuts, enjoying every last minute with some of the people I will call my closest friends the rest of my life. We were most likely getting back from our wild and crazy spring break in Mexico, where morality went out the window for the 100 of us that traveled down south together. As graduation neared…we did whatever we wanted, lacked sleep, ate our body weights and more knowing that this was the last time we could get away with the majority of our ‘old enough to know better, young enough to get away with it’ behavior. We feared not being together as each of us started to confirm our future lives in different cities and countries outside of the crazy small college town of Oxford, Ohio. Thus, unconsciously or consciously my school-work went on the back-burner…which led to me being on the verge of failing the Spanish class that I needed to complete my minor. I had never been to much for studying something I did not enjoy, and I ended up hating going to spanish class because it was the first time I actually felt dumb because I could genuinely not understand anything we were talking about. After several revisions of my final 10 page (in spanish) literature analysis of a Spanish novel…I passed by a smidge and wondered how I was going to live and work in a country with a language I basically failed. And thus graduation came,  and we all went crazy one last time, said goodbye to the dirty big white house that became our home and each other, and wondered what the hell are we supposed to do now with our lives?!

Where am I today? Snuggled cozy in my bed, with my host sisters knocking on the wall that separates our beds after watching la telenovela ‘El Idolo’. I am getting ready to go to bed, as I wake up before the sun is up due to the rooster caws. I just got back from an unbelievable trip to the base of the amazon jungle for semana santa, with my absolutely amazing volunteer friends,  some of whom I will call my closest friends for the rest of my lives as well. We barely stopped moving as we were running from waterfalls, to river rafting, to an isolated Laguna away from the city and catching up on one another’s lives, laughing until we peed, eating everything in site, and ‘socially resting’. After enjoying the quick 4-day trip to one of the most exotic places I have ever seen, I headed back to site for my oh so anticipated… ‘Community Diagnostic Presentation’. Today, I presented all the results of the surveys I applied to 35 mothers, 230 adolescentes and the numerous interviews and meetings I had to pull-together the past 3 months to form an overall picture of the health situation in my site, and what we could do to better it. I presented for over 45 minutes to about 15 authorities in my town, all in SPANISH (Note: this presentation was derived from the 30 page research paper … mostly primary research paper…also in Spanish). Yes it was not grammatically correct, but I can understand 87% of conversations now along with explaining complex statistics, projects and ideas in a second language with a bit of a Peruvian campo accent I have picked up….ja pues. Overall, the presentation went pretty well and followed by productive conversations about how we are going to implement the projects, and some new ideas from the participants. And thus in the coming weeks, I will go from my ‘I need to learn and integrate’ volunteer stage to ‘Let’s work together and get shit done, and improve this town’ volunteer stage. I will actually begin starting projects in collaboration with the community, but constantly learning what is needed and wanted in my site at the same time. Also I will also be probably asking myself what the hell should I be doing right now?!

So in an odd way…I am living in a parallel universe, similar in a peculiar sense, but completely opposite on so many realms. My college and peace corps experiences are both journeys that will affect my life on completely different scales, but lead into the grand intersection of my entire life story.  So that is my Now & Then episode. Then, I was happy and carefree taking full advantage of all aspects of college. Now, I feel more confident in myself, comfortable with my tranquilo life, and excited to finally begin working. And I am happy where life has taken me, and happier to find out where it will take and challenge me in the coming months…cause I definitely see some challenges up ahead.

Chaufa,

Jamie Lane