Una Presentación para PDS

El jueves pasado yo les di una presentación a los estudiantes in las clases de Español cuatro.  La idea de la presentación fue la vida después de Providence Day (mi escuela) y como llegué aquí.   Para ustedes voy a publicar poco de la presentación…la tiene 2,000 palabras, entonces no voy a incluir todo, solo los partes más buenos.  Muchas gracias a Sr. Barron y Carolyn para toda la ayuda!

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Cuando estaba en sus zapatos, pensaba de todo.  Cuando me gradué de Providence Day quería ser profesor de matemáticas y también existía una posibilidad de que enseñara aquí en Providence Day.  Miren esta foto de superlativo…fui elegido el alumno con más posibilidad de trabajar algún día en PD. Pensaba que pasaría 4 años en la universidad, y que luego regresaría a Charlotte.  Pero nada va precisamente como uno lo imagina,  y estoy aquí hablando de lo que voy a hacer y como llegué a este momento.

En un viaje de inmersión {estuve hablando de Cuernavaca aquí}, hay que escuchar mucho, y la atención es tan importante como la acción.  Porque nosotros éramos estadounidenses, no teníamos la autoridad para hacer nada.  Cuernavaca no era nuestra comunidad, entonces nosotros no podíamos hacer nada para ellos porque ellos tienen que  hacer para ellos mismos.  Si nosotros hubiéramos hecho algo para la comunidad, era posible que la acción pareciera imperialista.  Pero pudimos caminar con ellos en sus luchas, es decir observar y acompañar para mejor comprender su situación diaria.  Muchas veces es mejor caminar con alguien en vez de ayudar.

Antes de mi viaje a Cuernavaca nunca había pensado en ni  Jesucristo ni sus enseñanzas.  Claro que sí, yo sabía de Él, pero no lo conocía.  Para mí, Sólo era una figura en la Biblia.  Pero, aprendí por los encuentros en Cuernavaca.  Yo sé que la historia de Jesús Cristo es más que una historia…es una moda de vida.  La gente allá vive con el conocimiento de algo más grande como si mismo.  Entonces, estudié la teología e hice todo lo que pude para aprender más.   No puedo describir todo de lo que  pienso/siento…una razón es que hablo en español, pero en ingles no puedo describir todo tampoco.  Pues, el año pasado me hice socio de La Iglesia Católica.   Es un movimiento del Espíritu, y no sé adónde me lleva.

{Después de explicar Los Voluntarios Jesuitas, expliqué nuestros trabajaos…}

Yo trabajaré en la parroquia con los programas de preparación sacramental—La preparación para confirmación y primero comunión.  También la parroquia tiene una cafetería para los estudiantes en la escuela que no pueden regresar a casa para almorzar porque viven demasiado lejos.  Una de mis compañeras trabajará conmigo.  Es posible que ella vaya a trabajar con el ministerio de música.  Los Jesuitas quieren empezar otros programas también.  Uno es de Alcohólicos Anónimos.  Hay muchas posibilidades para nosotros en este lugar y nada esta cierto.  Mis otros compañeros van a trabajar en la escuela del pueblo. Van a enseñar inglés y también trabajarán en el ministerio del campus.  También, porque las dos (la iglesia y la escuela) están cerca, nosotros podremos trabajar en el otro lugar.  ¡Es posible que vaya a enseñar matemáticas en la escuela!

Pero nuestros trabajos no van a cambiar las situaciones políticas o finánciales… Para mí, quiero compartir experiencias. Nuestra meta como voluntarios no es cambiar el mundo para ellos, sino simplemente acompañarles en su camino y aprender de su cultura. Hay tanto que puedo aprender de la gente peruana, y trabajamos y vivimos con intención y sin ningún lujo para poder entender la perspectiva suya, que es completamente distinta que la nuestra, que tenemos simplemente por ser “americanos.” El único cambio que espero hacer en Andahuaylillas es a través de las relaciones personales. Como resultado de estar allí construyendo relaciones personales con la gente, seré impactado en maneras que no puedo imaginar, y ojalá mi presencia les ayude en alguna manera.

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Hay más partes de la presentación, pero este es basta….

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Where are you?

Usually a straightforward question with a straightforward answer: I am here.  But where is here?  For me the here has been constantly shifting—both physically and mentally.    As I type this I am currently in Memphis…just 2 hours ago I was in Charlotte.  And 2 days before that I was in Washington, DC, and the day before that in Philadelphia…and you get the picture.  I’m getting tired of traveling.  But it’s been such a good experience.  I’ve seen so many people that I wanted to see before I move.  Graduation was such a poorly designed departure from Boston College, and traveling has allowed me to catch up with some people that I haven’t seen (or even talked to) since that Monday in May.

So physically I am here.  I am in the United States preparing for my departure.  I have been to Boston, LA, Milwaukee, Boston, Boston, Boston, NYC, Newark, Collingswood, Philly, DC, and now Memphis on my slow lap of adios around the country.  There are two more scheduled stops…Boston and Charleston.  At the end of all of this, I am beginning to appreciate the feel of home.  As much as I am not a fan of Charlotte right now, home has an appeal.

But the physical answer is always the easy on…if you get stuck, then you can simply say I am here, on Earth.

What about mentally?  Mentally, where are you?  This has a different purpose.  The asker is getting at your state of mind.  Where is your conscious?  What are you thinking about?  A trickier question, this is.  Mentally, where am I?  I don’t know.  Stuck in limbo—somewhere between the United States and Perú, between departure and arrival, and in some ways between life and death.  With 19 days to go before I leave my mind is everywhere.

I am still firmly planted within the US culture…as I travel around I am exercising a privilege that few have.  I am able to take time to fly (fortunately flying is free) and I have friends who want to see me (at least I think they do).  I have been eating out, and spending more money than I am currently making (since I’m “between jobs”).  It is a life of luxury, even though I am doing my best to stretch a buck here and there.

But while I am here, my mind is wandering to Tacna and Andahuaylillas.  I am dreaming about my life that will be in just a few short weeks.  The family that I will be living with for my first 2 months, the church I will join in Andahuaylillas in February, Mes de Misión in January.  The excitement is building and I cannot wait to arrive in Perú.

But I am not looking forward to the departure.

Departure will bring about many emotions.  It is a process that I have already begun.  I felt it strongest this past Tuesday as I was leaving Chris’ apartment.  It marked the end of my week long journey of seeing friends and family that I will not see for 2 years.  It was a tough realization as I set out on his street to find the bus.  There is no one I’ve visited that I don’t fully expect to see again after 2 years, but still…it’s not easy to say goodbye.

Life and death are two ideas present—always present.  We seek to live life and to avoid death.  Don’t talk about death, that’s bad luck, or that’s just not done.  Society emphasizes life and within life we emphasize youth.  To be young, to have many years ahead of us…that is what we desire.  But death happens.  It is the only sure thing in this life.  You can disagree with everything I ever say, but you cannot dispute the fact that we will all die at some point.   But this is literal death—the kind that my family is struggling with as my Grandmother’s days become increasingly numbered.  She is stuck somewhere between life and death—an existential world and a metaphysical one.   For many people you would say that life is infinitely better than death, but in Grandmom’s case death must be better than life.  She currently lives in an existential world but has no existence.  Her struggle with dementia and Alzheimer’s has left her a shell of the caring person she once was.  And while we do not understand exactly what is occurring in her brain, my interactions with her lead me to believe that the hope of a metaphysical world has to be better than the chains of the existential.

Watching this process has me thinking about other forms of death.  Is JVC-Perú a form of death?  I will never be the same after these next 2 years.  Sure, the underlying tenants of my personality should remain the same.  I should have similar interests and joys…but my worldview, the way I interact with the world will be inherently different.  But is this death?  All experiences shape who we are.  Maybe to a lesser degree, but still, all experiences have an effect.  If death is the only thing certain in this life, then maybe it is a death I will experience.  I will be shedding some views, some thoughts, some ways of living in exchange for others.  The world as I see it will shift.  It will almost be as though I am living in a different world.  Yes the places and people will be the same, but my understanding of those places and people may be different.  Does that constitute death?  The ending of one life and in this instance the beginning of another…

Yo no sé…pero ahora estoy aquí

35 Days and Counting…

November 9, 2010 at 11am I will depart Charlotte.  My first stop is Miami where I will meet up with all 7 of the Peru volunteers seen here:

The ‘P’ is Rose, the ‘E’ is Mateo and Mallory, the ‘R’ is Jess and Greg, and the ‘U’ is Ashlen and me.  There are some more pictures of us at the bottom of this post!

We will then travel on to Lima together and from there to Tacna on the southern border with Chile.   On this map I highlighted Lima, Cusco (Andahuaylillas is only about 45km south), and Tacna.

So my life in Peru will begin in Tacna.  One of the problems with starting a new community is that there is no one there to receive you and give you an in-country orientation.   JVC has decided that the four of us destined for Anda will start with 3 months in Tacna.   We will be able to do some serious language training as we grow accustomed to the Peruvian culture.  our first 6-8 weeks will be in a home stay.  Each of us in a different home so that we are forced to immerse ourselves.  The current Tacna JVs will be looking out for us I am sure, but they probably have to take care of their own things.  (We really don’t have many details about the whole process…but we do know the broad strokes)

After our weeks in home stays we will travel out into the campo with 2 of the local high schools JVC works with in Tacna for Mes de Misión. Literally Mission Month or Month of Mission.  We will go out with the high school students on a month long service trip.  I don’t know exactly what our capacity on these trips will be since I’ll probably still be working to learn the language…and I’m comfortable with high school students, but high school students in a different culture in a language I’m not fully comfortable with doesn’t exactly sound easy.  But then again its JVC, and I’m supposed to be challenged.  So I am looking forward to this experience because I will undoubtedly learn a lot of Spanish and a lot of about Peruvian high school students.

At the conclusion of January the Anda Crew will move up to our permanent location just south of Cusco.  Our living situation sounds pretty nice from what we’ve heard.  It’s a house associated with the Parish that has been used to house short term volunteers who come to Anda. (Which apparently there seem to be a number of them.)  We will move into the house and make it our own, but we will be responsible for welcoming incoming volunteers and housing them in our extra rooms.  Margaret (my JVC handler of sorts) made it sound like it was incredibly spacious with lots extra rooms.

As far as work placements go, that is still a bit more uncertain.  Margaret and Dan (other JVC support person) are headed down to Peru in a few weeks to check everything out and get things squared away so we will know more then.  But right now it looks like the local school (Fe y Alegría) and the Parish both have two positions for us.  Both positions include quite a bit freedom to expand and explore different aspects of the locations.  The school is looking for English instructors, Campus Ministers, and it sounds like they have some need in the math department too.   The parish runs a cafeteria for students at the school who travel from too far away to go home for lunch.  It is looking for someone to work with sacramental preparation (first communion, confirmation), help plan retreats for faith/student/parishioner formation, work with music ministry, and all sorts of other things.  From the sound of it the Parish is looking to expand a provide a lot more social services to its community…things like AA meetings and the like.

Right now it looks like Jess and I will be in the parish with Mateo and Mallory in the School.  But again, there is room for a lot of over lap and it looks like I would be able to teach a class at the school while also working in the Parish, and Mateo could work with music ministry at the Parish while teaching at the school.   It should be a TON of excitement and fun and challenges.

And with that…here are more pictures of my community:

”]And a more exciting picture of the 4 of us!

Those living in Tacna - Ashlen, Rose, and Greg