Why I Decided to Join the Peace Corps, Reconsidered

Today when we met with our youth group to finish the jelly for the big sale tomorrow one of the kids in the youth group, a 14 year old by the name of James, spent the entire time making fun of how I pronounce words in Spanish. Most of these kids can’t even speak English, but they have the guts to make fun of our Spanish. Naturally I was crushed and I am sure to cry myself to sleep tonight, but then I remembered why I decided to join the Peace Corps:

“I guess the story starts at the sleep away camp I always attended and worked at, Camp Shohola. There are a lot of counselors from all over the world at Shohola. The Directors have always taken advantage of programs that bring university students from overseas to America for the summer. I really admire the international staff for coming to the US for long periods of time, some of them not even speaking English. I used to wish that there were programs to send American counselors to camps overseas, such as in Spain or Mexico, since I was learning Spanish in school.

And of course, we used to make fun of those counselors, a lot, for all the funny things they said and mispronounced, just like my kids are making fun of me now. Things have come full circle.

The boy who stabbed at my greatest insecurities

The boy who stabbed at my greatest insecurities

UPDATE, Sunday, May 4, 2014:

Today I went to a five year old’s birthday party and the same feeling hit me again. At the birthday party the girl’s aunts, both teenagers/young women were playing popular music, and Miley Cyrus came on. They told me that they didn’t like it because they couldn’t understand the words. At Jessica’s prompting (Jessica also lives with me in San Juan de Oriente and the birthday party was for her host sister) I began to simultaneously translate and sing We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball in Spanish.

Viné como una bola de domolición!

[I wish I had a video just as much as you do]

I remember being in Cabin 8 at Camp Shohola in 2001. One of my counselors was a Spanish guy named Rafael. We called him Rafa McFafa. He spoke French too. That summer Moulin Rouge by Christina Aguilera was very popular, and one day we convinced Rafa to translate the French part of the song for us. I remember how embarrassed and red his face got as he tried to sing it in English, just like I was today trying to translate “To my home girls with the big butt, Shaking it like we at a strip club.”


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