As I enter into my final months of Peace Corps service, I have found that my emotions have been more extreme than at any other time during my two years here in Colombia. On the one hand, I long for the comforts of home and am so ready to be reunited with family and friends. On the other hand, my time here is finite and the reality that I am going to have to leave a place and people that I have come to love is beginning to dawn on me more and more with each passing day. In reflecting on these emotions, I realized that there is a reason why I feel so much more conflicted now than I did when I left home two years ago. When came to Colombia, I was anxious about leaving everything I knew behind and excited about the adventure that awaited. I was following a dream that I had been passionate about for many years. It was difficult to say goodbye, but it was tempered by the fact that it was only a temporary goodbye, more of a see you soon. As I begin to prepare myself emotionally for my departure from Colombia, I am becoming aware that this is a much more permanent goodbye. Of course I can return to visit at some point in the future, but the reality is that I will never return to my life as it is in this moment, at these places, with these people.
Two years can be a very brief or a very long period of time depending on how you choose to view it. In the span of my lifetime, two years is very short. In the span of my entire life so far, two years is 1/12 of the time I have spent on this Earth. Two years is long enough to build a community and a life for yourself. It is long enough to settle in and call a place home. And it is long enough to build real relationships with people. Some of these relationships I will be able to continue after returning home. The reality is that I will not be able to stay in touch with every single person who has impacted my life here in Colombia. But I can promise that these people and these relationships are something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
In light of these reflections, I wanted to share some of the people who have been such a huge part of my life these past two years. Some have truly inspired me, others have amazed me with their kindness, and some simply brighten my day just by being who they are. So without further ado, please meet my friends and family in my home away from home.
La Familia Lessing: My Barranquilla host family who took me in when I was lost, confused, sweaty, and spoke no Spanish and loved me like their own!
La Familia Martinez: My Bayunca host family who eased my transition into pueblo life and will always be my one true Colombian family!
Mamá Cecilia: My Santa Marta host mom who simultaneously provides me with love, support, and non-stop entertainment with her crazy antics!
IED Simon Bolivar Family: My teachers are an amazing group of people who have gone above and beyond professionally,and become some of my closest friends personally.
TEPC Family: My night class students tend to come and go, and while they have all been a big part of my life, these ladies are constantly the highlight of my week.
The Kids: There is not enough time in the world or space in my blog to express how much I love my students. They drive me crazy sometimes, as all students do, but at the end of the day they are the force behind everything that I do and they have kept me going these past two years. I wish I could put a picture of all 800+ of them, but here are just a few…
There are many other people who are a part of my day to day life, from Karina at Juan Valdez to my friend who works the buses outside Buena Vista. I will never be able to convey to many of these people just how important they are to me or tell them that I really will remember them forever. In some of the most challenging and impactful moments of my life, I was 3000 miles away from the people I love. Fortunately, it did not take long for me to realize that I have plenty of people I love here, too. Time goes by so quickly. Never miss an opportunity to tell people how much they mean to you.
Until next time….paz y amor.