Sunday, March 18, 2012
It was a week ago that I found out I would have to be moving from my site. I met with the Country Director, the Security Officer, and my Program Manager, and they all agreed it would not be safe for me to continue living there.
I'd come into Asunción six days before that after a phone call from the Country Director saying he wanted to talk to me in person about something, and that I should come in as soon as possible. I did, only packing a pair of underwear and a t shirt, expecting and hoping to be able to return the next day and get in at least a couple full days that week at the Escuela Básica, which was still getting started with the school year.
I ended up not going back to site until last Thursday, 9 days later, when I rode up with Eduardo, a Peace Corps driver, in a pick up to pack up my belongings. I didn't interact with many people that day and we left town around 5 to return to the city, but the next day I rode up again with my Program Manager to talk with a few of my counterparts and say goodbye to those few I would have time for before leaving again for Asuncion.
It breaks my heart to leave behind my community, my home, my friends and aquiantinces, my students and my plans. I feel terrible for abandoning so many kind people without so much as a "chau" after they welcomed me into thier lives. I've spent most of the last year in Nueva Germania trying to get to know people and understand how things work in anticipation of this year. I did do some work that I am proud of: my summer reading class, diagnostic testing, library reorganization, diadactic materials work; but mostly it was all short term, dubiously sustainable, and uncomplete.
It is the relationships I formed with wonderful people in town that will last and that I feel the worst for leaving behind so abruptly. I formed a bond with many of the children in town, especially in my neighborhood. I think it was because I was so unusually interested in them, that I didn't mind acting silly or undignified with them, that they took to me. I will always remember with deepest fondness the way kids would yell my name all over town whenever I would walk by. Claudia said they've been coming by my house asking for me since I've been gone. <heart breaks>
And I can't help hating the Peace Corps a little bit for ripping me from my life. from my real relationships and personal commitments, so nonchalantly. This is the US-government-bureaucracy side of the Peace Corps, with unbendable rules and priorities and redeployable human resources. I understand thier reasoning, it is logical. All the same, they control nearly my whole life right now, and I resent thier assertion of that control which in an instant rendered my personal credibility among these people meaningless. I am unmasked as a cog in a great machinery and my attempts to bridge great gaps of culture are revealed as trivialities, each personal commitment and moment of trust equally unimportant in the long run to the organization in which I serve.
I am not seething or depressed. I've been trying not to think much about it at all, as there is nothing that can be done, except to try and make contact with those I wasn't able to despedir appropriately. We are in the process of finding a new site for me. I will be able to integrate and figure out what I will do more quickly, now that I have more than a year's experience in Paraguay working with the education system. I am sure I will form new meaningful relationships, and friendships, and that I will find new beautiful places to recharge me, though I truly cannot imagine dealing with the bullshit without the lovely fields and river just East of my old house, without sitting on my porch watching the barrio in the changing evening light, just as I can't imagine meeting any old lady as kind and nurturing as Ña Dolores or any friend as generally hilarious and good natured as Antonio.
I give thanks, at least, for having been able to spend one good year in that random town. From here it is one day at a time, for some time to come.