Saturday, March 29, 2008

High-Speed 2008

It’s almost April. How did that happen? I guess I must have been having a lot of fun and really busy working to have time fly by just like that. I had a feeling that this year is going to be a much better one than the last and so far, so good. It has actually been pretty exciting and I don’t have anything to complain about, aside from, everything seems to be going a little too fast.

A quick rundown of my year, thus far:

• I held a three-week ballet and hip-hop dance workshop. It was the first time in my life that I had so many dance classes and it was a very exhausting but rewarding experience. I had two ballet classes divided into age groups ranging from 5-13 years old. A big surprise was, for the first time ever, a boy came to my class. I also had a hip-hop class with students from 5-56 years old! It was a lot of fun; some of them never even knew what hip-hop was, let alone, take dance classes. Personally, it was also a first to me to teach 5-year-old kids anything; I don’t know how I got through it, but I did. Despite a lot of hair-pulling moments, there were definitely a lot of “awww” ones too!
• January 25th was National Women’s Day and for the second year, I helped out some local women organize a celebration. My major contribution somehow ended up being dance related as well- I did the choreography for a dance piece for a group of women and kids to showcase the different roles and relationships that women have (daughter, mother, grandmother, friend, etc.) and also just to give the participants a chance to experience performing on stage. Also, I had photo exhibit of different women of Olanchito whom I interviewed as a part of a project I’m doing where I am trying to get to know the history of the town through the life stories and experiences of various women. I have interviewed eight women so far and it has been a poignant and eye-opening experience for me finding out a common thread on the reality of the majority of women here. This will be an ongoing project until I leave where the final product will be an archive of profiles of different women, along with, a reflection on their stories and the interviews.

• I helped out the cultural center find a librarian for the Children’s Library that was built as part of my project. It was fun seeing the process for the hiring- a local professor administered different tests to gauge the written, story-telling and creative skills of the different candidates to determine the perfect person who will be running the library and doing story hour with the kids. Of course, little did I know then of the drama that would ensue later on…see details under March.
• Hooray and thanks be to God for generous and kind hearts that chipped in to buy me a ticket back to San Francisco and have one of the best times of my life. It was a very much needed break for me to get my family-friends-and-food fix and just to decompress from a tough year of being away from home and the let’s just say, challenges of being a volunteer. The two weeks went by high-speed as well and I barely got a wink of sleep through it all, but I sure savored every moment being with my loved-ones and inhaling every type of cuisine I could. That trip reminded me of how loved I am by my family and crew who took care of me oh-so well (Gracias!) and spoiled me to pieces. I also think I brought enough goodies back to Honduras to last me the rest of my service. One hundred fifty pounds' worth of luggage, and I didn’t get charged a dime extra, pretty good, eh?

• I barely touched down in Honduras from my SF trip and I had to turn right back around to do another trip- this time by bus, to the other end of the country. I went down to the Dirrrrty South in Orocuina, Choluteca to meet with the volunteer group COLORS, that does American diversity education to locals and also serves as a form of cultural-exchange and support group among volunteers. We held another cultural diversity activity at a local high school where, once again, we demonstrated to shell-shocked students that Americans come in different shapes, sizes and hues. It was fun. Also, this trip made me realize in its full glory how hot and dry it is at the opposite end of the country (see photo of two kids waiting for the bus) and made me realize why most PCVs hate volunteers who get assigned to the humid but lush and green North Coast. All I can say is, I’ll just keep counting my blessings.
• As if my 15-hour bus ride trip (one-way) to the south wasn’t enough of a “welcome-back-to-reality” from my fabulous vacation, I went back to Olanchito with some mo’ drama fo’ yo’ momma. Let’s just say there were sudden unforeseen “staffing issues” at the Children’s Library while I was gone and two weeks after I got back and had already helped with training for the librarian. Hopefully, all of that is already resolved and part of the past. At this point, I’m actually pretty excited because it seems as if, finally, by next week, the library will truly be open, complete with a librarian and kids ready to fall in love with books to make it all legit.
• I would have to say one of the best things about this year so far is being visited in Honduras by my dear friend Gwen from the Yay! Area. We had a blast getting to know a few North Coast spots despite the flu and rain tandem that attempted to spoil our fun. She wanted animals, food, beach and Leah as part of her trip and we easily got to check off that list and at the same time turn her into a volunteer by teaching her how to be cheap. I was a happy camper playing hostess, translator and tour guide for my beloved guest.

What’s Next? Since life is going so fast, I had to come up with a quick list of what I have to do in my remaining months here, namely:
• Finish remaining projects and follow up on pending ones.
• Dance my heart out with the kids I am teaching and stage a dance concert before I leave.
• Travel locally and cross a couple of borders.
• Make the most of my last few months with the friends and family I have formed here.
• Do all the reading, writing and other things I’ve been planning “to do a lot of” during my service.
• Figure out my action plan for my return to America, come September.

And the countdown begins…