What a year

What a year? Time flies, eh. Any of you weirdos miss me yet? 🙂

September 11th marked my 1-year anniversary when I arrived in Peru for my in-service training (yes, a very weird date for the government to fly out nearly 60 Peace Corps volunteers). While, December 2nd marked my 1 year service anniversary as a volunteer in my small community, Villa Chatito, which is now my home. So I have been down here for about 1 year 3 months! Woo!

As I think back on my past year, a bundle of vivid emotional memories flash through my head similar to those montages they show in movies right before someone is passing away summarising their whole life. In some regards, I feel like I have lived a thousand different lives in this one-year and have learned more life-lessons than in my whole life. On the other-hand, I feel very confused about this past year. Without a doubt I have definitely discovered more about myself than ever before….which I suppose is bound to happen when you are the only foreigner living in a town of under 2,000 people and find yourself in very peculiar situations every single day.

This vivid memory montage is filled with daunting challenges, exciting successes, frustrating failures, genuine laughter, uncontrollable cries (and bowel movements), lazy binge-watching days, jam-packed busy days, witnessing heart-wrenching tragedies, feeling lost in myself, feeling on top of the world, popularising the high-five, sore feet from to much cumbia dancing, learning how to make delicious ceviche, eating pounds of rice, falling in love with my town, feeling pride when people compliment my Spanish, smirking to the millionth time people comment I am ‘acostombrada’ (accustom) to the life here, juggling 2 soccer teams, sweaty runs through the farmlands, being extremely frustrated with my town, feeling too respected, being very disrespected, experiencing genuine kindness and generosity from numerous strangers, extreme annoyance at the tardiness of ‘hora peruana’, applying hora peruana to my own habits, feeling right at home, self-pitying myself for homesickness, getting to know new friends of all ages, hearing the news over phone calls and skype of milestones back home (Chrissy and Kyle!!), feeling guilty for missing these milestones, little kids screaming my name across town, little kids screaming my puppy’s name ‘Nala’ across town, trying my best as a role-model, being a ‘public figure’, answering tough questions, countless repetitions of simple educational lessons, just being present and so so much more. (That is a run-on sentence if I have ever seen one…but screw grammar).

So yes, this year has been the cliché rollercoaster of emotions in which the Peace Corps loves repeating that we will experience at each training event. But a rollercoaster filled of lessons I will hopefully use in my coming year of service, and for years to come.

Comparing how weird I felt the first couple weeks into my service to how comfortable I feel now sitting on my porch with my little sisters after once again failing at playing guitar with my new little puppy at my feet and neighbours coming to visit on this lazy Sunday feels like going from 0 to 180. Honestly, I have not reached the 360 turn yet but pretty positive I will get there.

What have I done in a year? Some days it feels like absolutely nothing and other days it feels like I’m the mayor of this place changing some things for the better. (I will write more details about the progress of our community projects later on…not in the mood right now).

But overall, this has been one of the greatest challenging years of my life, and I didn’t expect anything less. And now into 2016 we go, and as I age with the year on the 31st I will be turning 24…yikes! But as the sun has aged me probably ten years down here, I may now look my age because I am still getting people asking me if I’m 18 or if I’m 40… so we will keep letting them guess.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and enjoy the cold for me as I’m sweating in 100 degree weather as we speak!

Start 2016 out with a bang! I will be with two of my best friends, Liz and Sara, and a bunch of my Peace Corps friends in Cusco J!

See you in a year or two!

Jamie

“Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours. Get to know who doesn’t come from your social class. This is how you see the world. This is how you grow.”