TOLERANCE

You know you’re in the Peace Corps when you freely discuss, elaborate, and describe explosive diarrhea symptoms with your volunteer peers without any ounce of shame.

We all got hit with the D-bug in July.

Without giving you the details here has been my experience in a mathematical formula:

No toilet seats + squatting + diarrhea = extremely firm thunder thighs acquired

 

Hola amigos y familia,

 

Thank you shout out to…

 

  1. Carrie, my PC volunteer friend who lent her movie library to all of us. We are forever grateful. I did not know how behind the times I was with movie watching.
  2. Galen, my PC volunteer site mate and buddy who keeps me sane. We got lost going to our training in Turipana, ate pity party ice cream together to re-strategize and think clearly, got back up on our feet, and got to our point of destination in one piece.
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This is Galen and me after finding the right bus to get to Turipana. We both closed our eyes on accident. I think.

3. Helena, my PC volunteer friend, who checks in on me regularly, who laughs so hard about so many things with me, and truly is a gem of a person.

4. Carmen, my Spanish teacher, who is just on the same page as me all the time.

5. My parents back in Texas. Thank you for your love and support.

 

After six months of being in Colombia, it was time for our IN-SERVICE TRAINING in Turipana, Colombia. This was a check-in point with our Peace Corps colleagues, staff, and Colombian counterparts.

The first three days included trainings and events with our counterparts. It was an opportunity to meet other volunteers’ counterparts, learn of their accomplishments, learn new methodologies, and basically, fire a rod in our counterparts’ buttocks to get them motivated when they returned back to school.

Here are my cute counterparts:

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Alicia from Buritaca and Giovanni from Perico Aguao.

 

Giovanni and Alicia are my teammates and I am forever grateful for their genuine compassion for their jobs, cooperativeness to work with me, and friendship with a gringa.

The last three days was for just us volunteers. We shared our struggles and achievements and I learned that we were all in this same boat with the same frustrations but we just were too afraid to be vulnerable and admit. However, we all cracked a little and when person A would say, “I have had difficulty with ABC,” person B would nod furiously in agreement. I also learned how much I missed air conditioning, but also realized how easily I got cold and how I was a master of turning it on and off throughout the night. How something I yearn for like AC could not be fully enjoyed due to adaptation of this fiery heat of a weather…

Additionally in Turipana, we surprised our fellow PC volunteer friend, Jackie, and her new-born grandson. 10 pound baby! We also learned how to document our progresses and accomplishments in the Volunteer Record Form (VRF), which is tedious, but very necessary to record our work here in Colombia.

I felt that my volunteer colleagues and I got closer during our Turipana training. Especially when one-by-one we all fell victim to diarrhea, headache, and vomiting afterwards. Natalie, my PC volunteer friend, calls it the curse of Turipana.

 

DRASTIC MOOD CHANGE. WARNING SAD POINT WARNING!

 

On August 19, 2016, I almost cried while reading out loud in English a story about Ashley and her career aspirations. I was asked to read out loud to articulate proper English pronunciation of a story far above the English skill level for the students. Some days, work as a PC volunteer makes you want to cry because you realize you can’t change the world, you are frustrated, you are tired, or you feel helpless. I was all of the above that day.

In my classes, there is room for improvement such as breaking down material so your students understand and reviewing that material for reinforcement. Unfortunately, as an outsider, I cannot just come in and enforce my own principles or ways of running things just like trying to put a box in a circle. I cannot just do that that because it’s not my classroom and I am solely here to lend a hand. This is a taste of being a diplomat trying to strengthen relations and improve policy through tact, patience, and tolerance. But in my case, I am trying to instill interest in English and support bilingualism through improved teaching methodologies.

I show all these cool pictures of sea turtles and exotic scenery and yes, Colombia, she is beautiful, and I show her off, but life as a PC volunteer is not all rainbows and bluebonnets.

I changed my life 360 degrees. I moved from Texas to Colombia. I spoke English a 100% of the time to now speaking Spanish. I ate all kinds of diverse foods and all the foods I wanted in the States to now eating solely Colombian food. I used to live on my own in my own apartment to now living with a host family. I lived in the popping city of Austin, Texas, to now living in a rural village of 200-300 people.

It is hard.

So after this period of sadness, I went through this phase of “WTF AM I DOING HERE!!?!?!?!?!??!”

I couldn’t sleep one night due to thoughts of “What the heck am I doing here? Am I really doing something useful???” and randomly watched 7 Years in Tibet. I pretended I was Heinrich Harrer in Tibet (played by Brad Pitt) but I am in a movie called, 2 Years in Colombia. There was a part where Henrich says he was regrettable as having been “intolerant as the Chinese” referencing to when the Chinese at the time were invading Tibet in 1950. That part struck me weirdly. It made me question…Am I intolerant? Is it because of my intolerance that I feel like my purpose here is pointless?

Then, my counterpart Alicia invited me to a place up in the mountains in a village called, San Rafael. She told me how she could empathize with me as she noted that I must be struggling to understand Colombia. The coast of Colombia is different. The lifestyle and mentality are different. Alicia comes from the interior, the capital of Colombia, Bogota, and it’s completely different there, too: the lifestyle and mentality. So, she feels me. She added that she has a Master’s in Tolerance and I am still in school to obtain that kind of degree. The word tolerance has been circling around me lately and visiting San Rafael made me experience some kind of ENLIGHTENMENT. It was a place where I closed my mouth and listened to nature for the first time. It was a place where I shut off my talkative brain. We are always thinking and our minds are so loud, and I am happy to say that San Rafael shut me up.

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San Rafael.
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La Piscinita in San Rafael. The depth was unknown and I dare not try to reach the bottom.

 

So, after my ENLIGHTENMENT, I jotted down some notes to be wise as the Dalai Lama and to share with you. These tips are applicable to everyone and anyone. Maybe except 6 if you are living in a developed world…

TIPS TO SURVIVE ANGELL KIM STYLE:

  1. When you are sad, write a grocery list, then categorize that list by aisles, then re-write it in a colored marker. Finalize it with a sticker.
  2. Bring a sweat towel at all times. I enjoy whipping that out when there is a waterfall on my face.
  3. Pack snacks every time. The hangry-ness of Angell Kim is even scarier here. Friends, BEWARE!
  4. When you are craving Korean food, improvise and go to a Chinese restaurant in the city.
  5. When you can’t sleep, watch movies until you’re sleepy, but beware, you may suffer lack of sleep the next day, but try to solve today’s problems today and tomorrow’s problems tomorrow.
  6. Back-up charge everything because the power will go out sometime.
  7. Have a back-up emergency cash fund in a drawer. The nearest ATM machine is in the city and the realization of a back-up emergency cash fund when you are in panic poverty mode, makes you get on your knees and pray Thank you God for His back-up support.
  8. Helping to change and improve something takes time. Remember, not everyone’s buttocks are on fire like mine. So, you have to dim your own butt fire to be in sync with the other butt fires. However, you can’t be complacent, don’t just trot along with the same butt fire level and speed forever. You have to still maintain rigor and passion to help, improve, and focus on your goal(s). This is an art I have yet to master. Unfortunately right now, my butt’s been really burnt out and I need to try to dim the fire.
  9. Write and log all accomplishments and activities that you’ve done in your life, in your job, in your Peace Corps Volunteer service. The PC Volunteer Report Form  will sure teach you a lesson. The VRF is like the Matryoshka doll or Russian doll. When you open one doll, there’s another mini one, and when you open that one, there is another one. The VRF has many buttons with many other mini buttons. This advice is pretty applicable for the working man and woman for any career. Keep track of your awesomeness. It will come in handy.doll.jpg
  10. For the OCD American, carry on hand soap is amazing or…a bar of soap. Different form, but same ability to give you clean hands.
  11. Cut your nails so you don’t collect scum under them or scratch your mosquito bites to death.
  12. TO BE CONTINUED…

Things that I realized that make me OH SO HAPPY and helped me get back to my healthy level of happiness:

  1. Running water, showers, and my Korean bath scrub. I am so filthy here and that scrub thing makes me feel 100% clean.
  2. Clean clothes and clean plentiful underwear.
  3. When someone can relate to me.
  4. The screaming children who yell, “llego la luz!! – the lights are back!” and my fan slowly recovers back from its slumber.
  5. The books my English high school teacher, Wendi, had sent me.

 

So, I didn’t really answer the question of why I am truly here, but I am not here for no purpose, that is for sure.

I know for a fact that I am here to help. I am here to help myself to be able to help others. I am here for a new learning experience. I am here to be a better person. I am here to learn if I fall down 8 times, I know how to get back up 9 times. I am here to become more tolerant.

I think we all are here on this Earth to be more of a kinder person, but I am only a 20-something year old who’s just hit a bumpy road on the road called LIFE.

So, we keep trekking…

 

TO END ON A GOOD NOTE WITH A SHOUT OUT FULL OF LOVE:

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Made seaweed soup (미역국) a thousand miles away for my momma Kim’s 50th birthday. I miss you very much. It is Korean tradition to make seaweed soup to celebrate one’s birthday.
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Alicia and my 4th grade class. These kids are so rowdy, but I love them.

 

 

Thank you for reading the highs and lows of Angell Kim.

 

*Google credit to 7 Years in Tibet featured photo and Russian doll photos

Stay Human

Hello from the jungly part of Colombia.

The United States of America is going through a lot and I would like everyone reading my blog to take a moment and smile at someone new today and ask, “How are you?” Do it sincerely and genuinely. Hug your family and others and say I love you and thank you at least 50 times a day.

Please don’t forget to stay human. Please don’t forget that we are all humans. Please open your heart to empathize. Get out of your comfort zone to understand.

The United States of America needs many hugs and words of encouragement. Please help spread the love. Colombia gives a big sweaty hug to the United States of America for fast healing.

Despite the occurrences of this past week, I am doing well. I am gaining weight because my high-waisted jeans no longer feel comfortable nor provide concealing support of my belly. So, I suppose that reveals that I am not starving…

I went through some rocky down points, but bounced back up with the support of a few things and people.

Thank you shout out to the following:

  1. Barbara, one of my PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) friends, who offered her home to me to publish this blog. God bless Barbara and her sexy WiFi.
  2. WhatsApp’s audio recording to and from my brotha from anotha motha, Ronald.
  3. The best go-away gift from my best friend, Amber. 

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  1. Milo cookies. Please Google them.
  2. My sitemate, Galen, his company, and consideration of my love for cookies. We met up to hang out and brought cookies saying, “I brought some cookies for you knowing you’d get hungry.”
  3. Books from my high school English teacher, Wendi.
  4. And YOU. You reading this blog. I put in a lot of effort to share my experiences and my sweat, emotions, and love are laced in every word. Thank you.

 

So remember training ended April 15th and I moved to my site? And whoa it’s July.

With baby steps, I am slowly getting a better idea of what all is here in my site, who to go to for whatever reason, and explored a few of the other villages of the Troncal (Troncal is the highway that all the villages lie next to). I sense the students that love learning English or learning in general, the students that make me want to rip out my hair,  the potential for growth of an idea or a student’s behavior or learning, and how I really need to work out like my life depended on it…soon.

Vamos – Let’s GOOOO

I would like to share with yall one of Colombia’s village gems here called, Don Diego. It is where the Teyuna civilization (think of Aztecs, Mayans, indigenous tribes) lived and now where lies a hostel called, Taironaka, that is built around the ruins. One of my teacher friends, Arnol, teacher of Eco-Tourism and Physical Education at my Perico Aguao school, gave me a tour of Taironaka. We hiked up the mountain and I will celebrate the day when I get accustomed to the dang mosquitoes here. Arnol laughed heartily saying, “Oh, I am accustomed to the mosquitoes,” as he hiked with Crocs slippers (CROCS!) and shorts baring his legs. Here I am with a capris-like pants, reeking of toxic bug repellant, and still suffering from the mosquitoes.

Take a look at the houses, where the Sacerdote and Cacique (basically, boss #1 and boss #2 of the Teyuna) lived, and how cherubic I look. Look closely at the rock formation: perfect circles.

Also..I ripped my pants trying to cross barbed wire. Living life on the edge, guys. Living life on the edge.

 

One of my PCV friends, Jackie, lives in Aracataca. Aracataca has a population of 52,000 and is famous for being the home of Colombia’s Nobel Peace Prize author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He was known as Gabo. I went to see his museum and there were tons of yellow butterflies and his history.

 

My other PCV friends, Helena and Audrey, live in Fundación. Fundación is known for the heat and is also known as Fundición. In English, Fundición means foundry, and foundry means a metal casting factory. Basically, I visited them to enter a metal casting factory to be melted into smithereens.

Fundación and Aracataca are way bigger cities than mine. My village has maybe 200-300 people. Fundación has 82,000 and had restaurants, shops, ATM machines, grocery stores, and a bakery store called Mundo Tortas – Bread World. I couldn’t stop saying how cool everything was. I was a kid at the candy store, who didn’t know what candy was until at that point in time.

I walked with Audrey to visit the River of Fundación and ran into an old meeting place of a Rotary Club, an international service organization, which made my heart swell with pride because I was heavily involved in Rotary during my high school and university years.

 

 

Random life events:

At my other school in Buritaca, we celebrated environment day and planted mango and orange trees. I also greeted a parrot that wanted to bite me.

 

Sofi turned 8 on July 1st and I mentally and physically prepared myself for that party. There were tons of children and I was baby sitter, party helper, trash picker-upper, cake-cutter, and dynamic coordinator. My sister is seriously a princess.

 

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This screams…BOW DOWN MINIONS!

 

I visited the olla – pot, or in this case, body of water, of Perico Aguao, with my teacher friend, Arnol. This is a sacred body of water of the Arhuaco indigenous people. I took a nap on the rock there and felt like a million bucks after. So, I don’t know if yall saw my Instagram photo (look to the right of my blog!!!) but I got a new bike. Yay. But not so much because the seat is soooooo hard and my bike was so very stiff. My dear bum and loins suffered greatly, but the sites were worth the pain. Kind of. ;P

 

I went to visit my neighbor, Yerlys’ family in Mercatalia (a little ways away from me on the Troncal) and got gifted a guanabana. It is a prickly fruit as you see here and it’s pulpy and soooooo good. I feel proud when I receive gifts like fruits. I carry it around like it’s a golden star. Not only does my Korean-ness attract non-stop staring and attention, the fruits help me look a little Colombian. People bring all sorts of things onto the bus such as chickens, luggage bags of all shapes and sizes, and whatever else. INTEGRATION, YES!

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Guanbana, Juan, Brandon, and Yerlys.

 

Look at my Perico Aguao students! I had an informal, independent test prep class during summer vacation for the 11th graders and it was a very good class. I feel all the potential. Then, there are my 7th graders that are plain goofy.

 

This here is my best investment from the city of Santa Marta. This bear lamp. It was 7,000 Colombian pesos which is like 2 US dollars. It is chargeable and when the power goes out, I just turn this baby on and I feel very wealthy because I don’t use a candle. Haha.

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My dear little sister teaches me so many things without her even knowing it. So a little bit about her….She LOVES playing outside. LOVES playing. She is always outside. She’s a sweaty mess every day. So, one day, she begged my mom to go out and ride her bicycle for a lap, but it was getting dark so my mom said no. She was crying so hard and pleading, “Mami, por que no?!?!?!!??! Momentico, momentico!!!!!!!!” – “Mom, why?! For just a little moment, just a little moment!!!” FYI, Colombians add “ico” “ito” to the end of words to emphasize the word or express the meaning of just a little bit! 

Ok. So, after maybe 2 minutes of this constant back and forth of…

Sofi: “MAMIIIIII MOMENTICO MOMENTICO!!!”

Mom: “NO!”

Sofi: “MAMIIIIII MOMENTICO MOMENTICO!!!”

Mom: “NO! SILENCIO!!!!!!!!”

And 1 minute later, my mom asks Sofi if she wants an arepa with cheese (arepas are fried flour pancake things), Sofi immediately stops crying, and asks for more cheese.

I mean, talk about a fast recovery. If you are sad, just model Sofi. Cry it all out and bounce right back up again. Tip: use food as encouragement.

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What is the blue thing? It’s a tank of water when the water goes out. It is like the backup water plan.

Personal feelings:

I am happy to say, I have been building my tolerance against the heat and feeling more energetic. For those of you who know me, I am a fitness freak. I am ashamed I haven’t had done any real working out when I got here in January, but in June, I started jump-roping. Baby steps! 

Now it is July, I feel I am taking control of my life. Boy, how great does that feel. Little things like not being able to do my own laundry when I want to due to 1390834 different variables such as my mom is using the machine, or the power is out, or the sun is not out for the clothes to dry, etc etc or cook when I want to because our kitchen is limited, it’s a hot mess in there because my mom cooked a feast, or I am just so tired to move my body…really really drove me crazy. But now, I turned the tables around. I tell my mom I am going to do laundry prior. So basically, I give forewarning. Hahaha. Cooking? I strategize around the traffic times where my mom is in the kitchen. It’s a work in progress, but I am getting there, folks. I really deserve a beer for that.

OH! Here is a public service announcement…Please “like” our Peace Corps Colombia Facebook Page! It’s a portal where we share all volunteers’ experiences!

 

I love you all and I hope you remember what I told you in the beginning of my blog.

 

Say I love you and thank you 50 times a day.

 

 

 

Angell Te Queremos -We Love You

*Please hover your cursor over pictures for captions!

Hi everyone. I am one year older and celebrated my birthday overseas for the first time. Thank you to those who were a part of making it so memorable.

My neighbors blasted the Colombian vallenato (a song genre here in the coast) version of the birthday song first thing in the morning, I got a free pineapple juice to-go before training, Monica made us a tub of fried rice for dinner, Dylan gave me my fave Trolli worms, and I ended the night with talking to my friends, family, and neighbors with forever lasting cake.

Speaking of cakes..I ended up having four:

My aunt, Eladia made a cake.

Monica’s host mom, Señora Candita, made a cake.

Jackie, my counterpart, made a cake.

Michelle, my other counterpart gave me a cake.

Many calories were consumed and laughs were shared.

Cheers to 24 years of age.

 

 

Here’s my log of the moments that made me happy and sad and all those in between.

February 14 – Deep in the Heart of Texas

 

Did you know that I met a lady who was born in my village but now lives in San Antonio, TX while I was dancing cumbia near the village’s church? Her name is Chiqui and then I learned she turns out to be my host mom’s cousin!!!!!!!!

She was visiting her hometown and celebrated her birthday before going back to San Antonio, and I had the great honor to party with her.

She didn’t have to really hire entertainment because I was THE entertainment for her invitees. Let’s just say that so much of MY version of dancing was involved.

No shame.

 

February 27 – Beautiful Ponedera #1

During our three-month training, our group needs to complete a community project and after surveys and meetings, we came together to beautify our village, Ponedera. Our objectives include, encouraging people to throw litter in trash cans rather than throwing it freely in the streets, creating/utilizing resources to make trash cans, and shaping leaders to continue our project for sustainability as we will be in other sites for our two year service.

We created fliers together via arts and crafts and posted them in front of our houses. The guys in our group are pretty artistic and smart. Aaron, one of my counterparts, created a flier emphasizing the presence of “MÚSICA & MERIENDAS – Music and Snacks.” Smart advertisting tactic.

 

 

 

Thank you to my group for your ideas and help.

I am proud to say that our first project was successful. We really did not expect much for our first go-around, but we were humbly surprised. We started with six volunteers and ended with around 20! The Alcaldia – City Hall donated brushes and dust pans for our future projects. We talked about how we should save our trash in our pockets until we found a trash can. We said we should utilize trash cans in the small tiendas- stores or create your own from bags or boxes.

Our next one was this past Saturday and we worked on recruiting leaders to prepare our next and last project with the Peace Corps Trainees and to ultimately, pass off our project to them.

We’re bringing the sexy back in beautifying our environment.

 

March 5 – More S’mores, Please

I hosted a get together with my counterparts and my family to enjoy s’mores and beer. I couldn’t believe I was near a fire in a country that’s near the equator to cook a marshmellow, but it was all for the companionship and treat that a s’more can bring to anyone. I witnessed my neighbor, Elias, brother Mauricio, and my friend, Dylan hacking away/breaking/sawing at this large piece of wood to start the fire. They used plastic for the fire to kindle and it was pretty amazing. We ate the s’mores so fast and listened to a lot of my old-school songs. My brother loved the s’mores and kept asking when we would do it again next.

Sharing American culture, one marshmellow at a time.

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A fire pit in 90 degree weather.

 

All Catholic Things –

My host mom invited me to an Oración aka Bible study group near our neighborhood. I am trying to memorize the prayer, “Our Father” in Spanish so I can participate in the next Bible study group. We were in a circle and my aunt, Eladia, read out a verse and then we all talked about it. None of the women stared at me blankly or with curiosity and it felt awesome to be part of the group of ladies. I already stick out like a sore thumb with my physical features so it was pretty nice for once to not be stared at like a total stranger. Does this make me a Colombian lady now? Haha.

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I forgot to talk to y’all about my Mass experience in Colombia!!! It’s really something else. 🙂 I am Catholic and I went to Mass for the first time in January and I read from their newsletter that “Vida es una fiesta. – Life is a party.” What a great way to see life. I remember when I first went to Mass I tried so hard to hide my laugh inside because for me, church is a place of prayer, holiness, and seriousness, but the music threw me off because it was so loud and it sounded like party music. The kind of music that makes you want to bob your head and bust out and dance. It was different for me because I’ve gone to Mass presented in both Korean and English and the music is not that exciting. Korean Mass music is pretty serious and somber and English Mass music is a little happier and catchy but nothing like Colombian Mass.

Life’s a party. Live it.

 

February 29 – Pendiente de Ti – Thinking of You

Dinner was sandwiches and I had asked my mom to make just one for me. I underestimated my hunger and after wolfing down my first one I blankly looked around thinking if I should ask for the other one or not in sake of my embarrassment.  Mauricio who is my 17 year old brother had a very demanding tone asking my mom why she only made one for me when he had two. Haha. My mom retorted back that I had originally asked for just one and then my mom said to me, “él es pendiente de ti” – he is thinking of you…”

Thank you for caring about me, Mauricio.

 

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Me and Mauricio at Beautiful Ponedera #1

March 13 – Long Live Sancocho!

My mom’s friend, Clara, invited me to to a ranch to make and enjoy sancocho. Sancocho is a traditional soup/stew made in a massive pot to share amongst family. It is made in different variations throughout Latin America, but we made ours with plantains, cilantro, beef, yuca (yuca is like a potato but is stringy), carrots, and garlic.

Exhibit A..

We brought all the necessary items, stopped by the tiendas – small shops for last minute items and drinks, then walked over the river and through the savannas. Our group included, Clara and her children, Ofelia, Chan, and Maye, their friends, Janer, Darlien, Jose and Eddy, and JoMaira (Jose and Eddy’s mother) and me. We brought Janer’s bird and Jose’s dog, Lulu, along with us. My friends, Janer and Chan carried the huge pot of water over the river and in the process, both fell into the water. Haha. Thankfully, our pot of water was safe. Then, we continued our journey. We walked through openings in barbed wire fences, passed some trees and in the process, collected some guayabas, climbed up some hills, and finally reached a little hut-like ranch.

 

 

The sun was so intense. The sun in Colombia in general is so intense. When I first came here, I was bewildered when I saw people wearing winter-like clothing. However, I learned that the long sleeves and jackets are for sun protection. I have now caught on with the trend to prevent turning into a burnt toast..but I still can’t do the long pants/jeans thing…

 

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Clara and me. She hated wearing that jacket.

 

 

When we arrived to the ranch, we started up the fire. It genuinely amazes me how the fire is started so quickly and so easily. Back in the States whenever I wanted to do a grill, we needed to always buy coal, that liquid thing that kindles the fire and keeps it going (can’t remember the name???)  but all you really need is wood, matches, and plastic for fire kindling!!!!!!!!

We started the fire up and waited for it to boil. Then, we put in some meat, and one by one the other ingredients. We topped it off with cilantro. During this preparation, I even squeezed in a sweaty nap and woke up groggy and starving.

As a side note.. I have to let you know that the heat really curbs my appetite. I am known back in the States and at home to be 밥통 JR. –  rice cooker junior (my dad is  밥통 SR – rice cooker senior because we love rice. We eat too much rice for our health) and a fatty because I just eat a ton and am always hungry and get hangry (hungry + angry due to lack of hunger) a lot. Anyway, I am neither a rice cooker junior or fatty here because I am just not hungry. On top of the lack of hunger, I definitely never want to eat piping hot soup for any kind of meal…but this day’s visit to the ranch made me so excited for hot soup!

At this point, the soup was ready. We trekked a little ways away to a big tree to eat under. Chan ripped off these huge leaves from a banana tree as a table for our food. Jose drained the chunks of food from the soup and placed them on top of the banana tree leaves. We poured bowls of soup and shared rice amongst ourselves.  Then, we all wolfed down all the food. Chan stood up eating saying that he can eat more with a straight posture. I laughed so hard. Now, that is a true saying of a fatty. We all had a food baby and afterwards, climbed up trees  surprisingly with our impregnated selves.

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Chan and me…climbing a tree haha.

 

It was a really fun day and a touching experience for me because it reminded me of when my family and I would go camping and would party it up with tons of food and shared funny conversations together.

It was a good, good day.

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The gang.

Sad Corner –

I had a moment of disappointment one night when having dinner at Clara’s. Clara’s children are physically dark-skinned but her family is not of Afro-descendents. The topic of the States came up and Clara mentioned how in the States people shoot black people. Then, Chan, Clara’s son said he wouldn’t come because of that problem. I felt like I got punched in the stomach because it was hard to hear my country being depicted as this. Guns and racism have been a real issue in the States and at that moment, I realized the power of media and that other countries were watching our painful problems. I replied to them that there is a problem with guns,  disrimination, and racism in the States, but our country is not made up of guns, discrimination, or racism. I added an example that this problem in the States was simliar to Europe with discrimination and racism towards migrants. It’s an issue that a country can have, but it’s not what a country represents. This moment made me realize I need to get my Spanish to the level where I can best express and defend myself and the United States. It was frustrating and disappointing to go through this, but I believe my very presence is a positive representation of the United States to other peoples of the world.

But to end this on a ligther note, I eventually convinced Chan to come to the States saying there is a plethora of food and even, Colombian food. 🙂

 

Funny Moments –

*I am not sure what my body is doing, but I feel that my body heat goes to my hands. My hands are always so hot. Like ridiculously hot. I touched mamicita, my grandma, and told her to feel how hot my hands were.  I cannot really understand mamicita because her voice is so soft and she mumbles a lot  but I believe she said something along the lines of…people with hot hands will have love in their love forever. Maybe I made that saying up, but I don’t know…mamicita’s wise and I’ll take her word for it.

 

* So, I think my Spanish is understandable, I get the message across, and I pronunciate well…but at times my mom asks me to repeat things and then my little brother, Ivan, translates furiously for me. Haha. It is just so funny because the conversation goes something like this…

Angell : *At turtle pace with pauses and head scratching here and there* “Voy a biblioteca para reunirse mis compañeros por nuestros proyectos. Entonces voy a ir a casa de Jackie para ir tarea. Voy a regresar a las 7 pm.” – I am going to the library to meet my counterparts for our projects. Then, I will go to Jackie’s house to do homework. I will return at 7 pm.

Mom : “Cómo?”

Ivan : *Speaks at lightning fast pace and with an annoyed tone* Ella dijo que ella va a ir a biblioteca y entonces va a ir a casa de Jackie por tarea. Ella va a regresar a las 7 pm!!!” – She said that she is going to the library and then Jackie’s house for homework. She will be return at 7 pm!!!

Angell : *Smiles* “Si”

Haha. Poor Ivan. It’s hard being the youngest of the family as well as my translator.

 

*My brothers play soccer once a while and the winner buys boli – a flavored ice. They play and Ivan was really kicking butt this one day and it was so hilarious to watch. Mauricio got frustrated and kept saying some goals weren’t goals and then there’s Ivan screaming each time he made a goal. They used me as the referee and it was a lot of pressure… haha.

They can’t wait for Colombia to win against USA in an upcoming soccer game. We will see about that.

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Wow, can you believe it is already March? Time flies when you are having fun and sweating your water weight away. 🙂

Korea 2015

Well, well, well. What a whirlwind of events that have happened from October to present-day. To give you a brief up-to-today timeline and my Korea adventures…

On October 13th, a bird had pooped on me and then a couple of hours later, I received the most anticipated email: “Congratulations! You are now medically cleared to depart for Peace Corps Volunteer service.”  I made sure I took it easy that whole day and drank a shot of whiskey later that night to celebrate my diligence, patience, and flexibility.

I have been invited to serve in the Peace Corps as a Teaching English for Livelihood (TEL) to train English teachers in Colombia. I will be receiving necessary training for three months and then serve for two years. Before serving, I had to undergo legal and medical clearance to ensure my suitability to serve in Colombia.

I put in a four week notice at my first big girl job, then wrapped up my work/personal business, and finally, bid farewell to everyone I cared about in Austin, Texas.

On November 22nd, I returned to Dallas, Texas to be with my family and spend time with them. In the making, I had set up a fundraiser, collected my savings and last paycheck to make visiting to Korea happen. (thank you to those who helped me with my fundraiser; I cannot thank you enough)

My grandma on my mom’s side (in Korean, she is called my “Weh” grandma) is 85 years old and my grandpa passed away. My grandma on my dad’s side (in Korean, she is called my “Chin” grandma) and grandpa (“Chin” grandpa) are in their late 70s.

I will be in Colombia beginning January of 2016 and with the little time remaining from now until then, I had wanted to visit my grandparents who are in Korea.

The two weeks I was there was memorable and time of lots of laughter. Here are some of my memories:

With my “Chin” grand parents, I went to Incheon’s famous fish market. My grandparents picked the fish and as soon as we selected them, the fisherman grabbed the fish and hit its head on the cutting board. That was my cue to walk out to avoid seeing the gutting. eek.

There are little restaurants nearby where you can enjoy the fish with rice, soup, alcoholic beverages, etc. So, take a gander at the before and after. Talk about F-R-E-S-H.

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Transitioning to probably my least favorite experience in Korea…I am unsure exactly what happened, but I had gained tons of acne on my face during the time I moved from Austin to Dallas. When I came to Korea, my “Chin” grandma flipped out and grabbed my face and asked what on earth happened to my “milky, white skin.” Well…beats me.

She immediately made an appointment to the dermatologist for me where they treat patients with skin lasers. To let you know, along with a S-line (curvy coca cola shaped body), a V-shaped face (Koreans love small faces), and skinniness, Koreans highly value “milky, white skin.”

***Note: this part may include details that are weird***

So, I had worked for a medical device consulting company, and when I entered the dermatologist, I was bragging to my grandma that the skin lasers displayed on the walls were medical devices and they had to get prior registration approval and continued to show off my knowledge on and on without really knowing what I was getting myself into.

What a day that had been… I had my pimples poked with a needle, squeezed out with probably a wrench (my eyes were covered during this painful, horrible time, so I am guessing what the tools looked like), and the doctor stamped something cold and then used two lasers on my face. The lasers felt like little static on my face and I smelt burning skin. It was the craziest, most painful, experience ever!!!!!! All this for beauty!!!!!!

I may be sharing more information than needed, but I also had these whiteheads clumped together below my eye. Okay, not very visible unless you stare at me real close, but my “Chin” grandma has eagle eyes. She asked the doctor to remove this problem area, too, and I thought it would just feel like the lasers that reminded me of static.

TOTALLY WRONG.

This actual laser felt like a hot needle that pierced that thin layer of skin. Unknowingly, tears ran down my face and after experiencing hell, the doctor says, “It didn’t hurt, right?” (teasing).

I was like…silent. What a terrible joke.

Anyway, here is the place I went. Never again!!!

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Moving forward to better experiences… Korea is very cold right now. I was wearing layers, a hat, gloves, a scarf, you name it. After walking out of the dermatologist with my “Chin” grandma, we walked by the most popular food stand near her neighborhood. We saw “Ddeok-bok-gi” (rice cakes in hot pepper paste mixed with fish cakes and green onions; it’s a popular snack food in Korea) being made right in front of our eyes. It was pretty spicy, but it was so good. My grandma had always wanted to eat here because she would see all the children coming from school waiting in line to eat here. I had always wanted to eat “Ddeok-bok-gi” in this kind of atmosphere (outside, cold) and with someone I cared about. Well, guess we knocked this experience off our bucket lists.

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When I stayed with my “Weh” grandma the following week, I listened to her talk about her little goldfish pets. The red fish are males and the other green/brown fish are females. Some of the females have children in their bellies and they are the chubbiest of the bunch. It was fun to see my grandma take care of them and also complain how much they poop.

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In a nutshell, I visited my “Weh” grandpa’s grave, I met up with my Korea office colleagues, I never went hungry, I took glamor shots in the snow, I drank banana milk every day (banana milk is the best thing in Korea) and I left happy.

 

I am fortunate to have seen my grandparents before my two-year service in Colombia. They went through a lot: Japanese colonization, Korean War, raising their kids through tough times, and hunger. Without them, I literally would not be here.

There’s a lot of love in my life and I am very thankful.