I have arrived!!! I can’t begin to tell you how much I love Nicaragua so far. It’s absolutely beautiful. And the people here are so lovely. I’m so excited to call this country my new home.

Upon arriving in Nicaragua, the last few days of orientation have been quite a whirlwind to say the least. There’s so much newness to take in, so many changes across the board and so much information! It’s beyond surreal on so many levels. Surreal that I’m now living abroad in Central America and surreal that I’m actually training in the Peace Corps. Is this really my life?? Um, yes.

I’ve been running on adrenaline since staging began on Tuesday in Houston. Our group of 40 trainees (20 Health/20 Entrepreneurship Education) consist of some of the most dynamic, inspiring individuals I’ve ever met. I never imagined that I would be surrounded by so many like-minded people, eager to make a positive impact in the world while also focusing on growing into better people. It’s like I’ve found my tribe.

SO, what’s next? Yesterday, I moved to a town called Niquinohomo in the department of Masaya which will be my new home for the 13 weeks of training. I will be working closely with four other trainees who are also living in the same town and who I will get to know very, very well over the next few months. A little bit about the training…the Peace Corps uses an in-house training model  called “Community Based Training” or “CBT” which includes an experiential learning framework of activities, be they cultural, technical and/or language training. The training will be fully integrated around community resources and planned around activities carried out primarily in the host towns. The goal is to better prepare us to integrate into our community once we are assigned to our site in June. While I hear this period of time is very intense physically, mentally and emotionally, I’ve been told that we come out the other side with an increased level of confidence and a whole new set of skills.

I can’t tell you how much I love my host family! They are the sweetest people. They’re a big family of eight people. My host mom is just adorable and treats me like another daughter. I will be speaking Spanish with them 24/7 – dining with them for every meal and participating in various family activities (we went to Catholic mass and then to Lake Nicaragua today). Talk about an immersion experience! The last 24-hours have been challenging, but not as scary as I anticipated. My fluency is quite rusty, but with lots of conversation and some language classes, I will begin to feel more at ease. I have to keep reminding myself that right now it’s about moving through the discomfort of this newness as it’s a part of the process. Looking forward to my first official week here in Nicaragua!

Read more

The Challenge: Fit your life into two checked bags (50lbs each) and two carry-ons. Meet Khalan, a notorious over-packer who ALWAYS finds a reason to add just one more item to her suitcase.

I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly difficult this task has been. It’s 1:27am on March 1 (I have to be up in a couple of hours!) and I have just finished packing for 27 months. I know what you’re probably thinking…”Really, Khalan?? Who really needs a ton of things when going into the Peace Corps, especially when you can purchase many items when you get there.” But that’s not how my brain works, unfortunately. So I did the best I could scaling back on items here and there. I’m sure by the end of my service in the Peace Corps I will have a completely different take on packing, but for now, here’s what we have…I think I did pretty well given the circumstances!

Ok, I should really attempt to get some shut eye. But who really sleeps the night before they ship off for staging in the Peace Corps anyway. Wish me luck!

IMG_2424

IMG_2557

 

Read more

I have to start off by saying how surreal this blog post is for me. I never thought I would be here at this exact moment in my life about to embark on the journey of a life time – my “Eat Pray Love” as I refer to it. I would be lying to you right now if I said I was 100% ready to be an Entrepreneurship Education/Small Business Development volunteer in the Peace Corps. And while I do feel a great amount of excitement, I am also a complete bag of nerves. For someone who has always lived a “safe,” risk adverse life of trying to be in control of every aspect of my being, this is a HUGE shift. But I’ve realized that I can’t achieve the growth I’ve been seeking by living within my comfort zone. I would be clipping my wings if I remained within the box. One thing I’ve realized is how easy it’s been for me to limit myself by not allowing my mind to expand outside the realm of possibility. And yes, maybe I’ve had some wild dreams, but it’s those dreams that have ignited the spark inside of me. And I’ve come to the realization that if I just sit on the sideline out of fear, I will literally watch my life pass me by without ever actively participating in the game.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for over a year now, and for the longest time it’s felt far off on the horizon, that distant object that’s unattainable. But its finally here right in front of me. If I stop and really look at the magnitude of this change, the feeling is insanely overwhelming. I’ve learned that the present moment is my best friend. And rather than looking at the whole mountain, the focus needs to be on just taking the first step. Well…the path has shown itself, the door has opened and it’s time to finally walk through.

Abrazos,

Khalan

Read more

Anyone who has successfully gone through a quarter-life crisis can attest to the fact that it is probably the worst, best and most transformative time in your life (to-date). And for me, that is true. So incredibly true. Over these past four years, living in New York, quitting my job, criticizing myself better than my worst enemy could, overcoming the senseless idea of perfectionism, and then going back to school…it’s been a whirlwind no one could have foreseen. But I’ve grown tremendously and learned so much about myself, both good and bad. And despite the rollercoaster it’s been, it has been wildly exciting to know that through everything, all the ups and downs, I’ve grown (and am still growing) for the better, and that’s something to be grateful for. Even if this, what I like to call, “evolutionary process” includes days where I’m down in the dumps, locked in my room, lights off, with ‘rainy day’ indie music playing in the background. It’s worth every second knowing that I’m coming out the other end a bit wiser and a better person.

That said, I must be crazy, because despite these last few insanely transformative years, months and even weeks filled with change and life lessons, I find myself intentionally wanting more. (I should be careful for what I wish for, right?) But I think Gail Sheehy was right when she said, “if we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living”.

So, without further adieu and without being all dramatic…HOLY SH*T I’M MOVING TO MEXICO…WITH THE PEACE CORPS…AND IN 2 WEEKS!!!

While I feel like a normal reaction would be one filled with nervousness that sometimes manifests as full blown ‘WTF’ panic mode, I’m freakishly calm (it’s kind of abnormal and freaking me out). In fact, I think I’m more wary about the concept of “the calm before the storm” than actually physically moving. But being the self-reflective person I am/claim to be, I’m telling myself that this reaction is just indicative of the fact that this is something I absolutely have to do…a higher calling of sorts…fate, if you will…the gods descending upon me and showing me the light (I know, I know, I’m getting a bit carried away here). OR, that could be complete B.S., I could be bat sh*t crazy, and it just hasn’t hit me yet…and the next post you’ll read will have been written in that dark room referenced above.

Please cross your fingers that the latter is wrong, my intuition is right and these next 27 months will be even more amazing and transformative than I could have imagined. ?

Yours truly,

Tess

Read more