My program training specialist (PTS) asked me to write a letter to incoming volunteers. I remember when I first got my acceptance letter and read the letters from the volunteers. Funny how things come full circle, and how much I’ve grown since I first started the application process until now, 7 months serving in country!
Hello future Peace Corps Volunteers!
Welcome to Guatemala, the land of eternal spring and pura utz. I am sure that you might be feeling excited, nonplussed, or uncertain of what is to come. Don’t worry, there are volunteers and staff members who are here to support you! Many of you chose to come to Guatemala. While I did not chose to be placed in Guatemala, I feel very blessed to live and serve in one of the most ethnically and geographically diverse countries in Central America.
I won’t deceive you and say that serving here is easy. As of anything in life, there will be challenges and unexpected changes that impact your service. However, with every obstacle, there are small victories that stay with you for a while. I remember the first time I spent my birthday away from home with my Guatemalan best friend, and she made me cupcakes and sang me Happy Birthday in Spanglish. I remember the first time I ate a chicken’s heart. Or the first time I witnessed a severely malnourished child gain weight and start recuperating. This is not to say that your inevitable falls won’t hurt as much, but the little successes are what motivate me to keep going. As we say here in Guatemala, poco a poco (little by little), you will get the hang of things and feel confident in your decision to serve here.
During our swear-in ceremony, our country director George Like told us that “you are the architect of your own experience.” In other words, you determine what your service will look like. For me, I decided to get involved with the nutrition workgroup, the Gender and Development committee, and the Peer Support network, which will help mentor future volunteers whom are of color, women, or LGBT. Apart from those activities, I also co-facilitate health talks with health educators, teach Zumba classes, and I am in the process of starting a women’s group for health promoters. There are also opportunities to collaborate with other Peace Corps volunteers. I help coordinate a monthly behavior change workshop with other MCH volunteers in my department and will be participating in a health leadership camp in November with more Peace Corps volunteers. I encourage each and every one of you to find a committee or workgroup on a topic that you’re passionate about; it will definitely color and enrich your Peace Corps experience!
The next 27 months will challenge you, but will also make you into the person that you were always meant to be. Serve with love and compassion. Remember where you come from and the unique skill set that you bring to the Peace Corps – and most importantly, always give your best and keep your head up! It will help you a lot here 🙂
All the best,
Maternal and Child Health Volunteer