So, as some of you may have heard already, I am back in the US after just a couple of weeks in El Salvador. Why? Well, believe me, it was not an easy decision to make.

Outside of getting very sick the first week, most things were going very well. The country was beautiful, the people were warm and easy going, I was just starting to get a handle on my Spanish, and I was slowly overcoming some minor culture shock. I was really starting to enjoy the cultural interactions that I had on a daily basis.

Unforunately, I had some major problems with the assignment that I was sent to do. It just wasn’t going to work for me for various reasons. For one, I could not see the point in teaching English in communities that lack basic needs like running water and health services. From what I was able to find out from other volunteers in country, interest in formal English classes usually wanes after a short 2 or 3 months. Of course, this should not come as a surprise. Learning a foreign language takes a back seat to the daily struggle to sustain yourself and your family. What use is English to someone that is wondering if they will have enough water to drink and bath with next week?

I had other options. I could have taught basic IT skills to young people. While this might have allowed me to stay in more populated areas (and hence keep in touch with what’s going on in the world–something that I realized is very important to me), it just wasn’t appealing to me.

So what have I learned? Well, for one, I feel like the original Guyana assignment might have been a better fit. At least I would have felt like teaching English, the national language, was a productive thing to do. Also, I think teaching high school English would have been more personally challenging than basic English.

Also, I really learned where my true passions lie. The thought of living for two years in an extremely rural part of El Salvador was not so appealing to me. I live for and love the world of current events, politics, and the global exchange of ideas. It’s the reason I went into journalism in college. I was already missing my daily dose of world news and opinion and the thought of living without it, or only getting it in monthly doses, was not making me happy. Essentially, I realized that the best way for me to create change in the world is to stay “tapped in” to this world as much as I can.

So I’m back, looking for a job, and applying to grad schools…

Gunn
P.S. I still have my phone so give me a call!

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