Today marks the exact middle of our year at Espwa.
We arrived in Haiti six months ago, June 11th,when the weather was humid and in the upper 90s. We sweat out our first three months here and survived sweltering nights in August with no electricity and no fans. We were thrown into the job after a family emergency for our predecessor and an unfinished transition period. We struggled to communicate in creole and figure out where all of the keys in the office fit.
Now it’s December 11th, we’ve acclimated to the temperature and put on sweaters when it dips to 75 or 80 degrees at night. We have a working inverter that gives us electricity all night long. Our creole is coming along, as the sewing shop woman, Sagine, will tell you if you ask her. And we’ve started to pick up our own side projects. We still don’t know where all of the keys go but there’s six more months to figure it out.
It terrifies me to think about what will come after this year. Jobs without a master’s degree or at least 5 years of experience in a career are hard to come by according to the internet and I’m not even entirely sure broadly what I’d like to do. It turns out your 20s are very exciting and also very scary. But I try not to think about that too much. More than anything else, I try to remind myself to live in the present. 6 months away from family and friends is a seemingly insurmountable challenge when you look at it collectively, hovering ahead in the future. It’s not worth seeing like that. Much better to look back on all that you’ve accomplished when it’s done and, for now, to just look forward to the day ahead of you.
There were times in these first 6 months that the days and weeks dragged slowly along as I waited desperately for changes in routine that felt like they would never come. But when June 2015 rolls around I know I’ll wish I hadn’t taken any of that time for granted. So looking forward to just today, my promise to myself is that I won’t take any of it for granted. I’ll continue to use my time to get to know visitors from all over the United States, to work with staff and students from a different culture and community than my own, to pursue my own creative projects on the side, and take time to learn more about myself.
For some reason that was easier for me to do when I was in India. I remember hearing my fellow students wishing their time away and I didn’t understand it. Now I hear myself doing the same from time to time. I have to remind myself that this is different than India. I can’t travel freely on my own here, I can’t go out to restaurants or even into town to explore, I can’t make spontaneous plans with friends. There are a different set of challenges in Haiti, just as there are in every new place. It’s kind of like a puzzle and there is a way to find fulfillment and enjoyment within this different st of pieces, it just takes some creativity and persistence. I can manage that one day at a time. Because although I can’t do some of the things I could in India, there are also things I can like: go to the beach year-round, hang out with kids whenever I want, or eat rice every day (well I guess I did that in India too).
Coming from college before this and high school before that, the change I’ve seen in myself feels different too. It’s not as rapid as it was as a teenager or a college-student. It doesn’t feel like we’re growing as fast here from the inside, but maybe we’ve changed more than we realize. It will certainly be nice to get some perspective from my family when they come next week and for myself when I go home in a few weeks. But for now, one day at a time.
And today I’m grateful for the sunshine, the book I’m reading, and the incredible staff and friends we have at the guest house. I wouldn’t trade this day for anything.