I have a secret….I’m obsessed with Buzzfeed. I love the diversity of articles, it’s open to everyone’s voice, it has lists and quizzes that tell me which Chinese takeout food I am (General Tso’s because of my ‘terrific energy’), it keeps me updated on what the kids talk about and it is a healthy mix of everything. Since we are at the end of the 12 days of Christmas and having been in Peru for over 12 months, I find it fitting to make a list of 12–12 things I learned, experienced or felt during this past year of becoming a JV in Andahuaylillas:
1. This year brought so much learning, joy, laughter, slow realizations, leaning into the present, knowledge, questions…etc. It was a tremendous year of growth. It was a year where the people around me and the JV experience required a deep look inward at myself, the good, the not so good, and my desires for the future. It was the year I physically and metaphorically bumped my head into a lot of doorways.
2. I learned about natural remedies and preventitives this year for just about every problem I faced!
3. I quickly learned that I am not perfect, and any illusions or dreams I had some were quickly thrown out the window. Within that, I learned to not take myself so seriously. My secret desires of becoming the next ‘Freedom Writers’ teacher were blown out the window this year…. Example: I had my students study a bit about world religions. Yet, somehow they translated the Buddhist idea of finding Nirvana into Kurt Cobain and the Seattle band for religion class. Takeaway: I found good people that quite bluntly taught me humility, but with a barrel of laughs along the way.
4. This year, I learned that calzon does not ONLY translate to calzone, but also underwear. So, when people were asking me if I had tried cuy* before and I was responding that I had in a calzon, the weird looks they were giving me were valid. No, I have not tried cuy in underwear, but rather cuy in the roll-up pizza.
5. I learned a lot about the physics of vapor…Specifically with how much force and speed they can leave pressure pots. I actually got a first hand glance of this as it exploded into my face!
6. We really got into Bachata music videos…
7. I saw some incredible mountains up close and personal. There are fewer more humbling things on this earth than standing at the base of a 21,000 foot mountain, listening to the creaks and groans of its glacier shifting.
8. That at the end of the day, nothing matters more than time spent together. Quality time, without distractions. But rather, time spent basking in the beauty and complexity of the person in front of me.
9. That selfie sticks are….something else. I get that there can be great things on sticks: marshmallows, corndogs, mailboxes, ice cream bars, golf clubs, etc. But cameras? Really?
10. Potatoes and Corn have the potential to be really quite tasty
11. Frozen is the best Disney movie since Lion King.
12. That compassion and forgiveness are essential, and far too uncommon. That justice is slow, but is contagious. That education is the thing that needs the most investment. That I have learned many of the ways that I hope to keep growing. That at the end of the day, all you can do is laugh at yourself and shake a leg.
**Photo Cred (and if you’re into this sort of thing): http://furaddictionstore.com/products/piggy-panties
***Photo cred: https://www.flickr.com/photos/joe3po/4280126262/?rb=1