The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely mine and not connected in anyway to the United States Peace Corps.


b*tch and moan time.

I don’t mean to be a whiny person, but honestly, I don’t know how case workers do it. I’ve been a pseudo case worker (I’m not certified) for 4 days now and I’m exhausted—mentally, emotionally, physically exhausted. And it’s kinda embaressing. I mean if I’M emotionally drained, just think of how much more exhausted the woman all these things are happening to must feel. My exhaustion comes from being her support system, her shoulder to cry on, her friend to go to Child Protective Services with—I’m merely on the sidelines of her life, cheering her on and telling her that she has the strength to keep fighting for her children, that she doesn’t deserve to be treated the way she has been in the past and I’M exhausted. It’s humiliating to admit, but if this is how I feel with just one woman, how in the world can I handle more than one at a time? It’s a 24-hour job, especially when you’re living with the women you’re giving safe refuge to…and I, well, I’ve never been a 24/7 type of person before.

It’s funny how we get sucked into the situation. I find myself constantly having to “zoom out” and look at the big picture. But oh, what a beautiful big picture it is. I believe every person deserves to be treated with respect and dignity—and working with an abused women’s shelter, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do for these women. After all, what’s a little bit of exhaustion in comparison to helping change someone’s life? Yea, I think it’s a fair trade too.


baby steps

frightened, tired, alone, abused... but after awhile, she's smiling more than she's crying--and it's like a ray of sunshine has entered the room.

It's amazing what a weekend can do.  we had our first woman come and seek refuge with us this past Friday.  Her situation deals more with emotional and verbal abuse than physical violence, but even when dealing with physical violence, i think it's the emotional scars that take the longest to heal.  When she came to us she was a shell of who she is now.  She's joking and smiling, playing with our dog, and finally feeling like she is a woman who's worth something rather than a prisoner in her own house.  She's still shy around strangers and isn't used to being around strange guys (her husband never let her leave the house unless she was with him and then he would accuse her of flirting if she so much as looked at other men), but in 3 days she's grown so much.  and you know what?  I have too.  it's one thing to hear about an abused woman's story on Oprah or in a book--it's a completely different thing to sit down and talk to the woman face to face about her situation. this is why I came down here--to help people on an individual level as well as to help the community as a whole, and i think i'm finally starting to make an impact, which makes all the running around, chasing after people to call me back, and frustration at not having enough funds or amenities for the women's shelter worth it.  and I can't help but feel like this song sums up my feelings about this past weekend and my internship perfectly:

Thanks to this internship I've solidified my desire to work on human rights issues. I've also realized that while it is fulfilling to work on such issues on an individual basis, I'm not cut out for it long term...though perhaps that is a subject for a different post. human rights policy making? i could definitely dig that.


The Intern.

This is not the job I signed up for. 

Then again, there wasn’t much in the job description, so I guess I can’t complain all that much.  There are things about the start up of a project that no body really thinks about, or that I don’t think about anyway. I heard about the opportunity to help start up an abused women’s shelter and my mind jumped right to the abused women part, moving them in, getting them (and their kids) away from their situation, helping them through the transition away from their abuser, even perhaps setting up a peer to peer counseling group if there was interest.  And all that will happen eventually; unfortunately my mind (as it usually does) was thinking 10 steps ahead of the game.  The organization was not joking when they said “start up”  I’m here moving furniture around, putting pictures on the wall, and staring at a kitchen that has no sink or stove wondering how in the world I’m supposed to help make this house livable so women can move in. 

Frustration?  Doesn’t even begin to cover it.  

But, there are good things about this job too—I’m going to get some experience with grant writing sometime within these 8 weeks and learn how to fill out a 501-C3.  I wanted to know more about how non-profit businesses work, and it looks like I’m going to get that chance and then some. Plus, living as close as I do to the border I’m getting a first-hand look at the way policy and politics work down here and with my interest in international policy, living right on the border between two countries (especially these two countries), is a priceless experience.  I'm getting to meet some of the "VIPs" around town--commissioners, consulate, even the mayor of Piedras! Politics around here… are different, to say the least.  Things depend a lot more on who you know than on what you’re doing, which is unfortunate, but it’s the truth.  but considering that i've been here less than a week, perhaps, frustrations and all--everything is going just fine. 



Mahreesol. There’s a slight stress on the first syllable, a sort of leaning into the word that allows the voice to gently flow into the rest of the name. And then comes the rolled R, like a playful flip on the end of the tongue, adding a hint of subtle sensuality which can be detected only before one gets used to the pronunciation. The last syllable, with a long O sound, ties the vocalization of the sound to another word, soul and so after all is said and done one’s ear is left with the impression of an essence. My name, when pronounced in the accent of the local people, has a sort of beauty to it; when I hear mi nombre from their mouths it sounds like poetry. It also doesn’t quite sound like they are talking about me—it’s far too elegant and exotic to possibly be referring to me. It’s funny how our identity becomes wrapped up in the name we were given at birth, a name we adapt to, grow fond of…. become. I have always thought there is power in a name. Of course, since I’m named after my grandmother and mother perhaps it is a cultural notion I’m holding on to with that idea—but I’m fairly certain if the idea of a name containing power is merely a cultural one, it is an idea civilizations worldwide and throughout time have come to accept.  So here I am, in a new culture, starting down a new path in my life, with (after only 3 days) what still sounds to my ear like a new name.  And as I peer into the immediate future, to the work I’m going to be doing down here, I can’t help but think that this change, this what at times seems to be an overwhelming change, is going to be a good one.



it's a charming atmosphere, the world of local coffeehouses. and if you frequent them often enough, you begin to see the different stereotypes that reside there. and as much as i hate stereotyping, i'm going to indulge a bit this afternoon, since i suppose being a twenty something year old blogging in a coffeehouse with my espresso right next to my macbook i'm a stereotype myself right now.
Looking around i see an older person sitting in the corner--probably an artist of some sort who's enjoying their daily coffee and muffin while perusing the papers. in the middle of the room is a group of university students. They quietly discuss topics ranging from Ann Boleyn and other historical figures to the band Weezer and the benefits of live concerts over recorded songs. There's the guy at the table next to me, stack of books by his computer, checking facebook while on a "study break"that ends up taking at least half an hour if not longer (i'm guilty of being a member of this stereotype many times myself). The loyal customer who knows the baristas by name has just walked in the door, all smiles and hellos, surveying the room for an empty table or perhaps another familiar face. A person that needs to use the internet comes in, paying for their time on the coffeehouse's computer, ignoring the rest of the coffeehouse's inhabitants while searching for answers on the world wide web. a table of adults are holding a casual business meeting and through it all, the baristas call out orders to be picked up at the counter.  It's a pretty typical day at the local coffeehouse and i--i feel like i'm home.