We laughed and we cried, we danced and we slept
Jan 10, 2007
We just had our first meeting where all of the volunteers came together in San Jose. I think we were all relieved to get away from our small town existances and exchange stories with others going through the same things we were. We came together for comfort and advice, for a good time and belly laughs. And the stories never ceased to roll off tongues. Some people told of nights crying themselves to sleep and days stuffing themselves with chocolate to feed their loneliness. But some told of getting out in their communities for beach clean ups and exercise classes. Others shared how well they were bonding with their host families, never leaving their sights and totally inundating themselves with cultural experiences. There were tales of various stomach ailments and children who would make even the most seasoned educator cry. But people also told of moments of breakthrough, of a student finally being able to say "My name is". We came together this past weekend and realized that we were all teachers, real teachers. A lot has changed since Orosi, that hazy memory of nights playing cards at the Coto and days sipping coffee while learning Spanish and wondering what the year would bring. Reality has set in for my friends and I, my companions through this crazy thing we´re doing here. We are all learning to live with, and in some cases even embrace, those little weird things that set life in rural Costa Rica apart from our lives in the States...or anywhere else for that matter. Each of our towns, our schools, our families have little things about them that wonderfully and horribly unique, things that love them or hate them are ours alone to deal with for a year. And we are. For we are in this for the long haul. We are teachers. We are adventurers. We are tired and at times feel defeated, but we are surviving and even if it´s only for ten kids, or even one kid, we are making some sort of difference. There are daily struggles, times when I just want to crawl in my sleeping bag and not wake up until December, but there are also daily delights. There was the look that Ariante got when she finally did well on a quiz, the delight my Kinder kids get when they say "That´s what it´s all about" during ´Hokie Hokie´. When Kervin could say the alphabet without stumbling and when my students all shouted English greetings to bicycists passing by, my heart leaps. When my family understands and laughs at my jokes and I can spend a whole afternoon talking with my two best friends, Ileana or Sandra, about relationships and politics and just life in general, and when I get enough nerve up to ask Pedro to teach me to dance salsa, these are the things that make it all worth it. These are the times when I don´t mind my constant cold and the three days of solid rain and cold. And these moments, these days, of giddiness at my little successes are what keep me from crying myself to sleep and indulging in entire packs of chocolate. Yeah, there are bad days and there are moments when I just want to scream in frustration, but for the most part I´m happy. After listening to so many stories of both heartache and laughter, after comforting and being comforted, after a night of dancing our troubles away, after this weekend of being there for each other totally and completely, I´m exhausted but relieved. I´m not a trained teacher and I´m far from being an expert in the Spanish language, but I´m doing pretty damn good!