I left my Tennessee home just over a month ago. My late morning drive to Knoxville to work as a cook turned into a early morning walk to school to spend a long day teaching English. My nights out with friends turned into studying, reading, writing, and planning. My idea of a good time changed from drinking and playing card games to sharing coffee or a meal with someone new.
A new friend invited me to her home last weekend to share a meal. During the hours I spent there, she shared with me a delicious meal, freshly roasted coffee, and the story of how she transitioned from Ethiopia to the US to Guatemala. She sent me home with gifts and a very warm heart, but our discussion left me with a sense of purpose.
Beyou said that in our teenage years we are allowed to be a bit reckless and on an undetermined path meandering about, but by 20 years old or so, we should be looking to focus and setting objectives for our lives. She added that my time here in Guatemala is the perfect opportunity to focus on this.
Earlier this week, my boss and friend here at Ixtatan Foundation gave me a set of objectives for the semester. One of them was to improve my Spanish. Although I learn a little bit more everyday, my Spanish is still far from proficient, and tackling this language in ten months with busy days seems like an overwhelming task at the moment.
So, now after having spent the same amount of time here in Huehuetenango as I did during my first visit in 2015, I am considering spending next year here as well. I am constantly reminded of the fact that I am a foreigner, which is humbling. Teaching, although tiring, is incredibly fulfilling. I constantly feel slightly uncomfortable. Some call it masochism, I call it push for growth. I have grown and changed so much this month that even after being robbed (and the constant fear of it happening again), I’m thankful to be here, and I hope that my learning and gratitude multiply 9 fold in the coming months.
For now, I have made no concrete decisions. I walk around town everyday with as confident a face as an unsure gringa can have and a tiny knife in my pocket. In the evening, after returning home, I do what work I can before going to bed while I listen to the students upstairs speaking Chuj, crickets chirping outside, and a band practicing across the street. Life is busy here, and I am content.