Monday, June 23, 2008

Three Cheers in the Month of June

Happy Two Years to Me. Last June 21st I turned two years in Honduras. I made it! Time sure has flown, but unlike in the States, I’m more aware of where my time and my days here have gone- an even split between doing my projects and spending time with people building and nurturing relationships. I can honestly say it has been an amazing experience in all levels; it wasn’t easy at all, but I am certain that I have become a better person for it, thanks largely to the difficulties and challenges I have faced. It’s somewhat ironic to be grateful the sources of my troubles and heartaches, but I know too well that they have been sent my way to instruct.

I know I have changed a lot and have formed a different perspective of life and people, including myself. How, I’m not sure I can explain. I just know that I grew up a lot in the past couple of years in ways I didn’t expect, and I probably will not realize to what extent until much later.

To celebrate the occasion, I was coincidentally invited to back-to-back parties that day and inadvertently, those two events turned into partly my own celebration, in the company of the people closest to me.

Feelin’ So Good. To make the two-year achievement more meaningful, last Friday I knew for sure that I did something right in this country. I haven’t been the type to think that so quickly, having had so many frustrations with work and moments where I have felt futile more than anything else as a volunteer. People left and right have told me that I have done a lot and I know that, I’m just never sure whether I was actually helpful beyond doing just “a lot.”

For the past two months, I, along with the other members of the committee, have been slaving over organizing a Spanish Language Competition in the elementary level where different skills, such as, reading, penmanship, spelling, oratory and declamation were evaluated. In true Honduran fashion, the teachers were late in joining and preparing the kids, or chose not to participate at all. But the schools that did show up became part of a defining moment and helped plant a seed of what hopefully will become a tradition.

The event was not only the first of its kind in a while, but it was exciting and beautiful at the same time. Children got to don their formal wear and had the experience of being on stage, reciting poetry to the public as if they owned the world, then went home with certificates of participation and, some of them, prizes for winning, something they’ll probably remember and brag about their entire lives. I made all of that happen. Yes, that’s right, for a change I am claiming credit for everything- from coming up with the idea to procuring the funds, forming the committee, planning out the event, getting the people there and do their part, and just plain making it happen. I know it was my persistence despite the road blocks (the event had to be postponed due to strikes, some committee members fell off the radar, getting schools to participate was like pulling teeth) that made it come to fruition. The best part was that eventually, I ended up having a real team of people equally dedicated as I was to doing the project and doing it right. I learned so much from them and from the experience and for the first time that I really felt I achieved incorporating “citizen participation” in its fullest sense.

Next and Last Big Thing. At this point so close towards the end of my service, I know I should be resting more than working. Despite the fact how some people may define rest as “inactivity,” there is an activity that I personally consider as still a form of rest, or at least relaxation…i.e. dancing. July 19th is when I have scheduled the final recital of Olanchito Ballet, the group I formed a year and a half ago and has grown. Ballet classes have been ongoing all this year and this week, I will start another series of workshops with ballet classes for younger kids and hip-hop for teens. I couldn’t resist sharing what I love to do the most with more people, especially since so many of them have approached me asking for more, so who was I to say no? Besides, I always wanted to have a graceful ending to my service, and it seems like I’ll be dancing all the way to the finish line.


Tisha said...

Miss Leah, I miss you. It just hit me all of a sudden.

Kith said...

Congratulations Leah! You deserve it, girl!

connie said...

I can't believe its been 2 years that you've been gone... feels like a few months only... looks like you're having fun and making a difference, though...