Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First reflections on years spent as an ELF

With my final reports finally written, the expense reports in the mail, and a workload that now consists of job hunting, I've had a moment to reflect on the time that I've spent living in Latin America.

I'm thinking seriously about writing, not only to publish on teaching EFL, but for fun. I've learn a great deal about life and what it means to me, not only at a professional level, but personally as well. And what it means to other people. About the "perlas" both good and bad. I have more than four years of blogs and journals, sketches on pieces of napkin, and photos. It in no way can describe the experiences that I've had, and even less, those to come. What have I learned:
  1. I'm finally ready to go back to school to do my doctorate.  I'm reading again, a lot, and for fun, which is a good sign. I might have to export myself to a warm climate during breaks, but I wish I could start now. 
  2. Getting visas is never fun.
  3. People take advantage of each other everywhere, but there are many life-long friends that I've made in the past four years.  A friend is a friend, no matter for how little time you have known them. Those are the ones that you keep for life, and even if you only talk to them once a year, you always think about them, and make the effort to keep in touch. 
  4. I have opportunities, but then again, I don't. I regret having to leave a life that was in many respects much simpler and enjoyable.  Money and material goods are most definitely not everything. 
  5. I've learned as much from others as I have taught them, if not more. 
  6. I will never permanently stay in the U.S., even though I may have to live here for a while. I am excited to be back in communities where I can play an active role as a volunteer. 
  7. Foreign service fascinates me, especially for being a career path that I had never even considered when I became a fellow.
  8. I can indeed drive in other countries without killing myself or others, and I was setting up moto lessons when I left!
  9. Simple is better. I'm in the process of downsizing all of my belongings now, and will avoid upsizing as long as I can.
  10. There is really nothing better than Colombian coffee, no matter what Salvadorans say.
  11. Just visiting a place doesn't allow you to know it. Neither does living there.  I can't force anyone back home to understand what it means to live abroad. I can only tell them, and try to help them understand.
  12. I now mumble to myself in Spanish rather than English.
This is just my preliminary list; I'm sure it will grow.  I haven't even been back for a week yet, and have spent most of my time applying for jobs, but I've still got a lot left to say.  

Friday, July 17, 2009

Museo del Oro in Bogota

On my last day in Colombia, I decided to stop back at the gold museum in Bogota. I hadn't been there for three years, and wanted to check it out while I was killing some time before meeting a friend. I'm afraid I'm not nearly as stylish as the guys who wore these outfits, but the museum was much better than I remembered it being the last time!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ciao Manizales

You wake up, and for me, it's the feeling that everything's ending. It's like breaking up with someone, knowing that everything will never be the same again. The relationships you have with places are equally as difficult. I'll never feel the way about Cincinnati or Barranquilla like when I lived there the first time. Many of the people who were there who made it what it is for me have moved on, just as I have, and it's just not the same for it. A friend told me that you end up staying in touch with the people in life that you should, even if it's just once a year, and there's truth to this. But it's hard, to in the space of four days, realize that once again it's time to move on.

I'm leaving Manizales today, Colombia tomorrow. Although I know I'll never be gone permanently from Colombia, I don't know when I'll be back. Hopefully it won't be long. Now it's time to deal with reverse culture shock, to see family and friends, and find out what's next in line.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Caio Caio Manizales

Dinner with some of my co-workers right before I left. Thanks Martica, Lucero, Olga, Patty, Carlos Ernesto, and Camilo!
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Friday, July 10, 2009

One Week Left

With one week left in my fellowship, I'm wondering what will come next. I'm also wondering how many dixie cups of tino (coffee) I have drank since last September (3 to 5 cups a day), and how much space those cups are taking up in the dump. And, how will I beat this coffee habit, and go back to nasty cafe americano? I don't think I'm quite ready to go back to living in the U.S., nor do I think this is the best time to be moving back.

I've had an interview and wrote a crazy projection plan for a job here in Manizales at a university. It'd be fun, I think, and I'd like to stay. It was something I was looking for, it kind of found me. Should find out on Friday if it's going to happen. I hope so, really. I like Manizales, and wouldn't mind staying. I'd kind of missed the craziness (like Once Caldas winning last week and the ensuing "civic" afternoon for celebrating).
Once Caldas Celebration