Friday, July 13, 2007

Last Thoughts - July 10

Today was the longest and last day of staging. Tomorrow, we depart for Santa Lucia (very close to Tegucigalpa) for three months of Pre-Service training. So, basically, we get up tomorrow at 2 am, fly to Miami and then “Teguc”, meet the PC staff in Honduras, and then meet our home-stay families. One of the main topics at staging was personal safety and how to cope with unwanted attention. Truthfully, I have never been too worried about dealing with harassment or anything like that . . . until now. Usually, I have just ignored any unwanted attention and then that would be the end of that. But now I am going to be in a town for two years, probably walking the same streets everyday. And so I didn’t think about the fact that if someone is bothering me, I might actually see them again, and they might even know where I live alone! But at the same time, what can I say that doesn’t come off as rude but also gets my message across? My goal is to integrate into the community and befriend the locals, but how will I do that with the person that is giving me unwanted attention? In one of the videos we watched, they showed a Peace Corps Volunteer walking around her village in Africa and being followed by a group of men shouting at her. The men were just playing and the volunteer ignored them and kept walking, which is what I would have done, I thought. Then, one of them grabbed her arm to get her to stop. I inwardly froze. Here, people can't just touch you like that. And even though it seemed harmless and the volunteer just pulled away and kept walking, the message stuck with me . . . the rules and laws are different.

Now that staging is over, I think the one word that would best describe how I am feeling right now is NUMB. I feel numb because so many emotions are going through my head right now that it’s almost like I’m not actually experiencing everything happening around me. I think it just hit me that tomorrow I am going to be leaving all luxuries, securities, and relationships behind and replacing it with feelings of loneliness, foreignness, and discomfort. I don’t think it helped that at the end of staging, we all held hands in a circle and said what we were feeling. At this point, I was already pretty close to crying and when people started to cry and talk about how they were going to miss their families so much and that they wanted to curl up in a ball, I almost started to lose it. I really think I would have been fine if I had to deal with all this by myself. But there’s something about being in a large group openly expressing the feelings you are trying to hold inside that intensifies the situation.

To make matters harder, I went to dinner with two girls who both were having boyfriend problems that related to them leaving for two years. I’m glad I didn't save that until the last minute. At least we celebrated with an AWESOME last dinner that lasted 2 hours and cost over $100. Well, tomorrow at 1 pm (Honduran time) I will be in Tegucigalpa. After completing the application, writing various essays, and successfully passing the extensive medical screening, the day that is going to make all of that worth it is finally here!

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