During my last week as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I am not reflecting on whether I made a difference during my services in Paraguay and Colombia, but what am I going to do without a higher mission while overseas? Who am I when I am not a poster child for Uncle Sam's diplomacy efforts? Will I still help the lower classes via education and enthusiasm? I am planning on staying in Cartagena as an English Education professor at a private university. My research on how to make a public school bilingual will be conducted at the same school I taught at as a volunteer. So, my work will continue and develop, but will I change personally when I not an official representative of the US? I truly hope not since, I love my country. Whether I am in the Peace Corps or not, I am often the first American Colombians have ever seen in their neighborhood or on the bus. My official mission is ending, but maybe my personal one is just as simple as bringing Colombia to your computer and the USA to their daily lives.
9/26/2010 – 10/15/2010 C1 On September 26, 2010, I arrived along with 8 others to Barranquilla, Colombia to reinstate the United States Peace Corps . We are called Colombia 1 (C1) even though there were many groups before us from 1961- 1981. Peace Corps had to shut down its programs to protect Peace Corps Volunteers’ (PCVs) safety endangered by guerilla warfare and civil unrest. Now, we are back serve to Colombia`s northern coast, but are still proud to be former PCVs from Liberia, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, and Colombia. Our ages range from 26 to 69 years old. We are all are from different regions of the US and have different ethnicities. One PCV, Carolina, is from Bogota, Colombia, but moved to Florida when she was 17 years old and became a US citizen. Now, she is serving both the US and Colombia. Our oldest PCV, Philip, served in Colombia from 1963- 1965, returned home to be an ESL teacher in the Compton and Watts neighborhoods of Los …
10. Shower with cold water since, no one has or needs hot water
9. Eat homemade rice, beans, meat, and soup with a bone in it everyday
8. Sing out loud at school, in the street, and on the bus
7. Keep my bag on my lap or insight at all times
6. Carry toilet paper everywhere I go
5. Drink liquids out of plastic bags instead of bottles
4. Wear clean and ironed clothes everyday
3. Get in-home manicure and pedicure service
2. Put on 50 sunblock all over my body everyday instead of moisturizer
1. Love the weather
Cartagena has a fun and hectic bus culture with a surprisingly civil etiquette. The buses are called busetas because they are much smaller than most public buses in the world. Many of the Cartagena`s barrio streets are narrow and curvy which makes turning difficult. Anyone over 5'4" is normally uncomfortable with their knees jammed in the back of the seat in front of them. My friends over 6 feet have to stoop when standing on a crowded bus. Their heads hit the ceiling with every bump. It can also be quite hot since, temperatures are normally in the high 80s 10:00AM to 3:00PM every day of the year.
There are a few air-conditioned buses for a few pesos more. However, they do not have what makes most Latin American buses truly fun and festive: music and decorations. In Cartagena, the buses blare all sorts of rhythms: Salsa, Vallenato (Colombia's Country music), Champeta (Afro-Colombian music from Cartagena), and many others that I am still learning. I've never heard any …