Reshaping Your Perspective

Kellie Mahoney
By Kellie Mahoney
June 12, 2017

After 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training (PST) my cohort moved out of our training sites and into our new homes for the next two years.

In all honesty I wasn’t ready to go. I was sad to be leaving the home that I had made for myself for the last three months. I was sad to be leaving my host family, my friends that I had made, and my neighbors for something completely new. I was starting over again. However, that is the Peace Corps journey that I signed up for. In reality it is much more of a challenge to experience it first-hand.

When I got to my new site I went through the phases of adjusting and reshaping my perspectives about this journey. So far, I have had a lot of good days and a lot of days that have challenged me. It’s really hot here, the power goes out a lot, some days I feel like I can’t speak Spanish or English, and it can be overwhelming to feel like you don’t belong. I constantly have to remind myself every morning that I have a purpose here and that I am going to give my all to this experience.

When you give up your life back home in the states to serve with Peace Corps you have to leave all of your assumptions and expectations behind. Once I began to gain a different perspective and mindset about my new site I started to become excited about what was to come. Every day is a new adventure and I find myself constantly stepping outside of my comfort zone. So far I have a daily routine of running with a few locals, I joined a volleyball team, and I spend countless amounts of time with my neighbors. Some days we read books in Spanish and English, play games, and sometimes we just sit in the shade on the front porch and talk. My neighbors have made me feel welcomed since day one. My host mom is the Madrina to the children on my street. My five-year-old neighbor loves animals and is always surprising me with an iguana, rabbit, or bird. I have also befriended the woman who owns the tienda at my bus stop. She has enjoyed my stories about how I have already broken three pairs of my shoes since being in country and she gave me a discount on superglue.

The biggest challenge for me so far has been redefining my concept of time. In the states people are always in a rush to be somewhere. There is always an appointment, a task, or something that needs to be done right away. I have always had a type B personality back home, but I have had to adjust my perspective about time even in Colombia. It is okay if you miss the bus because you were having a conversation with the woman who runs the tienda. It is okay if some days you feel like you can’t speak any language at all. It is also okay if you spend a while in the Ara store because they have air conditioning.

 I know that my service has only begun. However, I can’t wait to see what the next two years will bring me. I am thankful for the challenges that will arise because it means that I am still learning all that I can to better myself and to learn from my community that I call home.

Kellie Mahoney