"...He prayeth well, who loveth well, Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best, All things both great and small;
for the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all..."

The Rime of the Anchient Mariner -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This is a LONG one--but read on.

I realized today that this is my one year aniversary from having submitted my application to the Peace Corps. I think my intent for applying was more to see what would happen, because I wasn't sure how serious I was about changing careers or how realistic joining the Peace Corps would be.

One year later, I'm in Queretaro for our three-month language, cultural, and technical training. After only being here for about a week, I can say that I'm enchanted (common word in Spanish) with the rich Mexican culture. The people are incredibly friendly, with an unmistakable sense of patriotism and cultural pride/identity. I think Mexico would be considered a 'developing country' not a 3rd world country. 75% if Mexicans acutally live in urban areas, and live quite similar to us in America...at least in this city.

September 16th is the country's Indepence bicentenial and Revolutionary centential (exactly 100 years apart--i think they planned the Revolution that way!)... decorations have probably been up for months & I'm sure more to follow on that later.

During our language training, we're learning how to introduce ourselves in Spanish and how to explain briefly about the Peace Corps and our roles. Most Mexican have no idea what the Peace Corps is (and might I add...neither do many Americans). So......the US Peace Corps is a govt organization that works with other countries on social and ecoonomic development Projects. In Mexico, the projects include Tech Transfer, Small Business Development, Sustainable Livelihood, and Environmental Education (allow me to go on). I have been assigned to the Environmental Education project in Gogorron National Park in the state of San Luis Potosi`. I'll be working the equivelent of the National Park Service, and will be working with the surrounding communities (focusing on Gogorron).

So, after I finish my three-month training, I get sworn in as a volunteer, and that's where I'll go!

First item on the Agenda will be to meet my running-mate/agency-counterpart, and get to know people in the communities in which I will live and be working. This will involve some traveling of course. After a few months, I'll have a better idea what the community needs are and specifics on what the National Park Service's (actually called National Council of Natioanl Protected Areas, CONANP) needs are too.

Today, we had a lecture from a University Professor of Cultural antropology dept. There are many underlying issues in Mexico, chief among them is the great divide between the poverty stricken and the rich. As an example, Mexico has more poor people than the entire population of Central America, while having mega-rich people eg Carlos Slim...the richest man in the world.

So government inefficiencies seem to favor the rich, and it would seem to penalize the poor. As a result, goverment involvement will likely be seen as mute & assosiciated action being perceived as jumping through hoops.

Essentially, he suggested that any projects/goals we might work on be small and attainable within short spans of time. I think it follows the Japanese ideaology to make changes incrementally...in a way that is almost unnoticable; and when possible, instead of implenting entirely foreign ideas/technologies, use more holistic approaches....ei ones that were likely used by ancestors. Also that the sustainability of the change should be considered, and that the communities should have buy-in of the change, so that the change persists after Peace Corps Volunteers are gone.

In the end, our jobs as Peace Corps Volunteers is to--promote, empower, and facilitate change. Not bad, huh?

BTW, Obama wants to increase Volunteers world-wide from 7,000 to 10,000 in 2011... seems like a good time to apply!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hacienda 'el Castillo'

These are a few pictures that are one week overdue--finally some decent bandwidth with which to upload them! These pics are an example of my recent obsession with clouds.
We spent our first few days in mexico having an informational retreat at Hacienda el Castillo, with attached Rancho el Castillo, where they have an organic dairy farm and chicken farm...yum.
More pics later this week from my weekend trip to Bernal (3 largest monolith in the world).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I view that this as an opportunity to reinvent myself. Following that theme, I’m now going by the name “Betty” instead of “Liz”.

I’m very impressed with the PC Mex Program here (well developed and organized). I feel privileged to be among so many talented Trainees; along with that, I feel intimidated too because these people are experts with specialized education. I am more of a generalist, but I hope to fill the role Peace Corps assigned to me.

***I've been assigned to a post inside of a National Park of the Mexican State of San Luis Potosi! I found this out today.

I haven't had enough time to do the proper research on the state of San Luis Potosi etc, because we moved in with our Sponsor families.

My host mom (very sweet older woman) greeted me with a bouquet of flowers, she took me home, then had a tour of the house (it's big). I have my own room & the house has internet! She has two other American exchange students who are here for a while, and there is no lack of family members here. They took me to the downtown area and we walked around; downtown Queretaro is gorgeous and happening!!! Once i know my way around, I'm def going back with some of my friends!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New life, New Blog Title

The beginning of my new life started with a sad farewell of my family & dog Cleo. I arrived to Washington DC for Peace Corps staging & met my new friend Lindsay, who is the spice of life (Lindsay, you rock!). We did some sightseeing of DC before officially registered for Staging at the hotel. We ended up going out for a night on the town.

Next morning, I went for a jog with my new roommate & friend Sara (who rocks too), around the Washington Monument (had been on my 'to-do list' forever). After we got our visas (I made sure we three were the first in line, hehe), we hit the hotel pool for a few hours. It was perfectly relaxing, which was nice because this was the day that never ended. I stayed up until we checked out of the hotel at 2am. In the end I was too exhausted to be sad about leaving.

Right now I feel a real sense of inner peace. I’m happy that I have found laughing-buddies (people who I can laugh with) & that everything is going so smoothly.

I am now a Peace Corps Trainee. On November 10th, we’ll graduate from Training & become official Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV). This Saturday we’ll find out where in Mexico we will be assigned! For the rest of this week, we are having a retreat at a renovated 17th Century monastery; the itinerary is packed with language and cultural training, but also includes Salsa Lessons & Tortilla Lessons (dancing & cooking).

Viva Mexico

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Every new begining comes from some other begining's end"


I am between two chapters in my life.
I am grateful that everything is working out.
I am excited to see the manifestation of a pipedream.
I am scared to think that when I come back everything will have changed.
I am hopful that I can learn new skills & be of service at the grass roots level.
I am saddened by the anticipation of saying goodbye to my family (Am i the only person that cries at airports???)
I am praying that I have the courage, wisdom, and poise to handle all situations I will face in the next weeks and months.

notable quotes worth sharing:
"Have the courage to ask." -my friend Anna
"More things are wraught by prayer than this world dares dream." -my Dad
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, and become more, you are a leader." -John Quincy Adams
"He who dares not, need hope not." my brother Robert

Inspiring Moment:
Yesterday, when I found out that my dad faught as a American gorilla in the Cuban Revolution (just for the adventure of it!).