Last Thursday I made the decision to leave my site in Sololá and move to a new site. I went through a long discernment process filled with many conversations with family, friends near and far, and Peace Corps support staff. Now, I have determined that my best chance to find what I consider to be success as a volunteer lies elsewhere.
I could write a laundry list of justifications, of things that went wrong and ways I tried to remedy the situation. I could talk about problems with my host organization (which has dissolved), with my counterpart, with my host family, with integration into the community as a whole. But, with exceptions where a safety issue arises suddenly, I think these cases tend to come out of a long accumulation of struggles and trials. Any one of these problems might be surmountable, but the aggregation of them has worn me down to the point that I must choose a new path. I have not exhausted all the opportunities in this site, but I have exhausted my own ability to pursue them.
The past several months have seen me move between emotional states of determination, enthusiasm, stubbornness, disappointment, desperation, hopefulness, stress, apathy, frustration, relief, confusion, exhaustion, and many more. There have been small victories and occasional connections with those in the community. The overall trend was moving slowly toward cynicism and resignation. At some point I realized that as much as it was tempting to stick it out here to prove I could, that was a path that didn't serve me, the community, or the Peace Corps well.
I joined the Peace Corps to learn and to teach, to share and receive, to join a community and to serve where I am able. Before I can do any of these things well, I have to care for myself. There is a reason the flight attendants tell us to first secure our own oxygen mask before helping those around us. Next week I will move to a new site in the department of Alta Verapaz. This is my way of reaching for the oxygen mask.
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.