“If I am worth anything later, I am worth something now. For wheat is wheat, even if people think it is a grass in the beginning.” -Vincent Van Gogh
Oga Ita, Alto Verá, Itapua, Paraguay
It has been a year. One year has passed since I stepped off of a plane in Asunción with fifty other new Peace Corps trainees, completely overwhelmed by the beginning of this experience. Now here we are. A year in. We’ve completed training, swore in as real volunteers, started work in site. We’ve planted trees and taught classes and grown gardens and built compost boxes. We’ve swum in streams and gone to birthday parties and spoken Guaraní and drank terere and fallen in love with host-mothers, neighbor children, friends, and even a few significant others. We’ve gone to camps and inservice trainings and meetings. Some of us have gone to see friends’ sites, some of us have gone to explore other countries, some have gone home on vacation, some have gone home for good. One year feels like a century has passed since I arrived at my first host family’s house, but it also feels like that was just yesterday. Some days I say, “Wow! That was only a year?” and other days I say, “Wow. That was ONLY a year…” In one year, it feels like I’ve done so much, and yet nothing, all at once. It has been a year of contradictions, of mixed emotions, of cultural confusion and love for Paraguay and longing for things left behind. And yet it’s not yet half over! A year and three months still remain to plant, explore, teach, learn, and love a bit more. A year and three months that I’m excited to see and experience what’s in store.
In honor of our one year anniversary, I walked to Chara’s on Saturday morning for a planned day of feasting. Just the two of us, we engorged ourselves on French fries with homemade barbecue sauce and a whole pan of cinnamon rolls with an orange glaze. In celebration, we listened to music and danced around her house while her host siblings giggled from the doorway, happily munching on their cinnamon rolls. We chatted about the past year and the years to come, in Paraguay and beyond. We talked about work and our host families and our futures and how close we’ve become. I truly could not have made it a year without Chara out here with me and nothing makes me happier than being able to celebrate this milestone with her good company.
So here’s to the last year! And here’s to the next year and three months! And to whatever comes my way after!