Down Time

It's been a while since I have captured any of the goings on of my life here in St Lucia. Partially because most things have become ordinary and day to day and don't seem too interesting to talk about. Partially because I am becoming caught up in my day to day and many times forget that I have a blog, that people are interested in what I am doing, or that I am in the Peace Corps. This is not to say that there aren't monumental things happening or  incredible moments in every day but everything has become so much the norm, even the excessive advances by men, that it seems to just be a part of the every day. I forget that those of you who are actually interested in keeping up with me aren't here and might be wondering and/or even fascinated by what an every day is like for me. So, I thought I would dedicate this blog to an understanding of the way my life is unfolding here in the Eastern Caribbean branch of the Peace Corps...

I am working incredibly hard at the CDP. I wish more and more that my Tuesdays, which are supposed to be dedicated to Ciceron Secondary, could also be there because I am finding it to be one of the most incredible challenges of my life. I work with an amazing staff of dedicated, caring, and inspirational people. There are four of us working full-time on things such as remedial math, english, life skills, behavior change, and overall keeping the peace. The thing that gets us all at the end of the day is the amount of work and attention that each of these kids needs. They are tough. They come from tough communities, tough families, and tough lives. All of them. So when they show up day to day their moods, energy, and insights shift in a way that keeps the four of us on our toes and having to be creatively and constantly innovative in our interactions and teaching methods. I have had my days where I was sure I was going to break. Days when I wondered what exactly I am doing and if I have any qualifications at all to be working with this caliber of child. Then I have a moment like last week, where a boy walks up to me after reading him some of the Tao of Wu (thanks Bobby, it's been a hit..and a curse...more of that later) and asks me if I will teach him to read.

He's 16. And he's been relentless ever since. We sat down and worked on writing a letter and he worked tirelessly to finish it then asked if we could work together every Monday. This is a huge deal for a number of reasons. Most of these kids cannot read but do not want to admit so and will not ask for help. He is asking for help in front of his peers and working with me in front of his peers to learn to read. If they never ask for help, they are learning by default. Secondly, most of these kids pick and choose when they come. They aren't consistent. The fact that this boy is asking me to commit to working with him every Monday means he will be there. He will show up because it's important to him. In the midst of us working together another boy finished his work and wanted something more to do so I gave him the same letter we were working on to write for himself. It was an exercise in writing a letter about the dangers of smoking and why people should quit. So this boy, who can read and write, sat down and wrote one of the most profoundly intellectual and emotional appeal to those who might listen. It was incredible. And when I told him so he was so proud of himself it was all he could talk about. At our meeting yesterday I found out he told everyone in the building. Days like those I don't really care if I know what I am doing because I see that I am having an impact on someone's life, if even for a moment, and I hold on to the hope that they will think of those moments when the time comes to make some of the bigger decisions they have to make on the streets.

Then there's the rest of the day to day. I wake up in the mornings, have coffee, get ready, catch the bus into town. Walk to work. Go to the store for food. Go to the ATM for money. Go to the beach when I can. Catch the bus back home. Do yoga. Read. Dance around my living room. It's the daily life that I lead that doesn't seem too distant from my former that makes me forget at times that I am on an island in the Caribbean. And if I spend too much time in my house away from locals, I really forget until I hear the accent again. Then I settle a bit.

Some of the interesting challenges I have encountered have come in the form of faith, which I knew was to be expected, but I have been blessed to come from a world where you are so free to express your religious views that I never thought about having to censor them. So the book the Tao of Wu is a book written by the RZA from Wu Tang Clan. It's got knowledge from a myriad of faiths in it...which to me is amazing and just drives home the teachings. When I was reading them at the CDP, I was informed that was not acceptable because we are a Christian nation and sharing other faiths may come across as inappropriate. I make this point not to say good/bad, right/wrong but more so to voice how fortunate you all are to live in a place where you are absolutely free to learn, grow, and express yourselves in whatever means you see fit for you. If you wanted to dress up in an animal suit and profess your undying love and dedication to the god of all things fuzzy you'd be allowed to do so. It's something I know I have taken for granted my entire life and definitely something that strengthens my resolve in who I am and what I believe.

So, this blog has taken on a different form than I thought it would but has allowed me to see that in fact, my life here is anything but ordinary. I don't really understand at this point what it means to be in the Peace Corps because I feel like I am here working really hard and I'm not too sure what makes that different from anywhere else except I am doing so in St Lucia, but I love it and am sure at some point it will make sense. I am fulfilling the goals of sharing my skills and culture so I guess I am on the right track.

I had my first unraveling this week where I truly felt the distance between myself and all of you. It's hard sometimes but I know I am fulfilling my life's purpose and I know you are all with me in my heart. My only request would be that some of you book some plane tickets and come visit me in this beautiful world I am living in. It 's not the same without you. I love you all and thank you with every fiber of my being for supporting me in this journey.


Camp d'Life

I spent this the second weekend in my new home...away from home. I guess I should rewind a bit. I've moved into my own place in Ciceron...the best community EVER. I have a sweet lil one bedroom that is fully locked and loaded care of my incredible landlord Gertrude. She has ensured that I have every single thing I could think of, including hot water. This may not seem like a big deal but I am one of the few that I know of on island who enjoys this luxury. Interestingly enough, because I have become accustomed to cold showers and hot days, I don't find myself turning the knob on the left very often in the shower. My community is amazing...full of people and action and 24 hour bus service (another luxury many on island do not get to participate in). I truly look forward to becoming a part of the goings-on of Ciceron which will hopefully include the teaching of a yoga class or two at the community center down the hill from my crib. I was privy to assist in a yoga class this weekend for teenagers living with diabetes...hence the name of the blog.

On Friday afternoon I headed to Gros Islet to begin what would be a weekend of non-stop fun, interaction, and education with 18 young people currently living with types I and II diabetes. Let me preface all of this by saying that before Friday I knew about a thumbnails worth of information regarding diabetes. I spent my weekend learning from these amazing kids who immediately bonded with one another and trusted us enough to open up and share their lives for three and a half days. We spent the days playing games, learning, talking, dancing, swimming, and enjoying each other. These kids taught me how easy it is to prick your finger numerous times a day to check blood glucose. They taught me that needles really aren't that scary. They taught me that nothing can keep you down or hold you back if you won't let it. They taught me to live in the moment. They taught me about the resiliency of young people in St Lucia and the non-importance of labels. Most of all they reminded me of the fact that no matter where we come from, how old we are, or what we look like we are all one family. We are all intricately connected to one another through the bond of humanity and only when we are able to peel away ALL layers and labels are we able to truly find ourselves and the light that is our given right when we step onto this planet. I had an amazing weekend with an entire group of people I barely know and feel certain that from that experience I have not only strengthened the bond with myself but also with the whole of humanity. Thank you St Lucia for allowing me to be a part of your family and thank you Camp d'Life for trusting in me and showing me the way.