Thursday, November 29, 2007

Haiti: Should I stay or Should I Go?!*

*Sung to the Clash, please.

Two Surprises:

I’ve always been bad at making choices that feel like forks in the road of my life. Quit the marching band? Go to Clemson or Roanoke? (OK, the first one was when I was a sophomore in high school and it did feel monumental at the time.) I’ve got another choice now, and being the big grown-up that I am living in a country with about no one I know, this one is all for me to decide!

Surprise numero uno

The basis for the stay or go decision: I already have a job offer to stay in Haiti beyond the end of my 6-month volunteer internship. For a couple of reasons. First reason, how many people from the States want to come down here to stay, live, and work? It means that there are a lot of opportunities for advancement and responsibility. Second reason, the woman who had been in charge of financial reporting to foreign donors/working on Fonkoze’s overall budget announced her resignation shortly before I arrived. Her departure has already affected the scope of my internship. Oh yeah, I’m in the weeds of digits and spreadsheets galore. (OK, Stop drooling guys, I know it sounds tantalizing!)

Surprise numero dos

I have a running buddy! Major breakthrough! Michel is the security guard/mechanic at the school of the husband of a friend of a former co-worker of mine. That’s how I make all my friends. As a member of a motley crew assembled this weekend, Michel asked me how I’m liking Haiti. I was feeling pretty honest and told him I miss running. And soccer. “Oh you miss watching soccer?” “I miss playing soccer. I know Haitian girls don’t do that. In the States, girls play soccer.” “Oh. …well I could take you running.” “Really?!”

Apparently, he runs everyday. At 5:45, the sun is starting to rise, and the “sidewalks” aren’t yet overflowing with vendors selling bananas, unidentified fried objects, pencils, and spaghetti. So you can run. I should note here that my three-block to walk to work at about 7am is a real adventure—I dodge animals, potholes, LOTS of school-goers in their jaunty uniforms, nasty water puddles, trash, vendors, anyone who thinks they’re going to kidnap me, AND cars that honk and don’t slow down. And lots of exhaust. So the idea of finding a place to run… haha, not priority, plus I just didn’t see it as realistic given the security (lack there of) situation.

With a real Haitian bodyguard buddy, I feel a lot safer. And I’m so slimy sweaty, I don’t think anyone would be able to grab me anyway! I’m really lucky that I live right downtown. There’s a beautiful huge park area called the Champ du Mars that’s right across from the Presidential Palace. It has real sidewalks—DC style! (unpotholed and more than 1.5 ft wide.) That’s about the only spot in town that does have sidewalks, and so folks apparently drive in from all over town to run. It was a pretty happening locale at 6am today. Michel and I ran for the first time this morning, and it really felt great.


So I’m not even going to try and make a decision yet about extending my time in Haiti. I’m in no position to know how I like the work, the place, and the friends, yet. It would mean figuring out a way to push Peace Corps back by a year. It also is making me ask, where do I really want to go in my life? Is staying in Haiti the best way to get there? To be continued. Feel free to register your vote! I might or might not listen. :)

1 comment:

Zenon said...

Interesting experiences over there. This is Zenon, friend of Sandy/Adrian... and if you'd like your friend too : ))

About your dilemma > a little early to think about it, enjoy the way of life in Haiti and of course be very careful.

It's cold here in New England but we play indoor soccer!