Jajehecha peve- Until we see each other. Not a common goodbye, but Geoffry had it nailed down pretty good!
Oga Ita, Itapua, Paraguay
Last week, most of my group-mates and I went through a rite of passage that marks approximately a year of service. As a new group of agriculture and environment volunteers is already in country and in the thick of training, we each hosted a trainee and allowed them a brief glimpse of the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer. You’ll recall that on my PCV visit, I galavanted around the the countryside of Guaira with my mentor Mike, planting trees, attempting to go fishing, getting lost while trying to go fishing, being told I look like Thor and petting capybaras. The PCV visit is the first opportunity for trainees to see what Peace Corps is actually like and I was stoked to be able to host my mentee, Geoffry, for the week.
I’d say Geoffry’s visit to my site was equally as fun as my trip to Mike’s. We ate good food, we visited families, hiked up a cerro, chased after a misbehaved calf, walked in the rain, looked at agricultural systems, and explored around my cave and waterfalls in-site. We drank mate and terere and caña (not all at the same time) and he tried shitty Argentine boxed wine for the first time. We talked about service and life and the ups and downs and language and Alaska (Geoffry went to Alaska Pacific University) and beer and pizza. Chara and her mentee, Nancy, came over and the four of us had a blast in my elementary school, planting tomatoes and peppers in little seed boxes. Overall, it was a blast to have him here and to be able to show off my site. Geoffry is such a positive, adaptive dude and I know that he and Nancy will both be great volunteers.
I hope that having Geoffry here was beneficial for him, but I know for sure that it was extremely helpful for me. To be able to see how far I’ve come in a year and reflect on what I was like when I went to visit Mike was undeniably comforting. How much better my language is, both Guaraní and Spanish, and that I can now move beyond small talk in my site, conversing and asking questions and actually stating my opinions, is so apparent now. Not only did this visit show me how far I’ve come though, it also demonstrated things I’ve lost sight of. To see Geoffry, just so excited to be away from the training center and be energetic about being in the campo, made me realized that I’d kind of forgotten to have fun out here. I’d been so preoccupied with language and focused on work and teaching, that I’d honestly forgotten that this whole Peace Corps experience is supposed to be fun, not just work. I can be spontaneous and now have no reason to really be afraid of language. I can say yes to anything.
I was kind of sad to see Geoffry go. It was slightly exhausting having someone who speaks English and is so interested in my life be in my solo space for a week. But I liked his energy and we could have spent months discussing our favorite things about Alaska. I don’t think he wanted to leave either. He loved the campo and wasn’t looking forward to going back to the urban area around the training center. Apparently, he wanted to leave a note and disappear into the night, a campo renegade, instead of hop on the 3 AM bus back to Encarn. I think he’d do fantastic in a site like mine (Alistair and Eli I know you read my blog, you better give him a good site) and I can’t wait to see where he ends up.