March 7, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Remember, the water's not blue everywhere

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 10:00 am: Edit Post

Remember, the water's not blue everywhere

Read and comment on this Peace Corps story sent to us by RPCV Kristen Hare on an incident she remembers from her life as a volunteer and how on Peace Corps Day she recalls that "the water's not blue everywhere ." Visit her web page of extraordinary photos taken of Guyana at:

Remember, the water's not blue everywhere*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Remember, the water's not blue everywhere


National Peace Corps Day reminds one American that we don't know it all.

"Hi, my name is Kristen, and I was a Peace Corps volunteer."

It's kind of like recovery, coming back to the states after two years in a developing country.

There's a lot of relearning and remembering involved in picking up pace with the American way of life.

I don't have to worry if I have enough rainwater to drink or to bathe.

Wal-Mart is always open, so I don't have to worry that I'll miss the weekly outdoor market and eat crackers for a week.

And having my own little car, I've almost forgotten the daily death ride in the minibuses I used to ride.

But I have not forgotten my work in Guyana.

Clive was one of the students I had a hard time with. He was full of energy (teenage boys are teenage boys, wherever you are), and could not read.

To fill our time at the end of class, I'd give my students crayons or markers and ask them to dream a little on their paper.

One afternoon, I walked by Clive, deeply involved in his picture.

He was drawing a small, wooden speedboat like those we all used to cross the huge Essequibo River to reach our village. His father owned a boat, and Clive spent weekends by his side, working the boats, playing dominoes and hollering at women.

"Clive, you're picture looks great," I said. "But you made a mistake here." I pointed to the water he was coloring. "The water is blue, not brown."

He looked at me as if I had just announced that later we'd be walking on our eyelids.

"No, Miss," he said, patiently. "The water is brown."

I began to protest, when I realized he was right.

The water was brown.

At the basin of the Amazon, the wide Essequibo was flooded constantly with mud and silt, leaving the water a cinnamon soup.

In fact, all the water in Guyana was this color.

Blue water was the stuff of American movies.

When President John F. Kennedy proposed that young Americans spread their knowledge and skills, the Peace Corps was born.

Since 1961, more than 165,000 people have served in more than 130 countries around the world to be part of "... a grand and global alliance ... to fight tyranny, poverty, disease, and war ..."

Friday marked the 42nd-annual National Peace Corps Day, and all week I've dreamt of mangoes, hammocks and huge green rice fields as the snow outside gets grimy and black.

Of its three goals, I think the third one is Peace Corps' most valuable.

It is: To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

In his speech, President Kennedy said, "To those people in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves."

But in the end, those hut people schooled me something fierce.

It would be easy to draw conclusions about war and judgments about American foreign policy with Iraq here.

So I won't.

But I have learned that the wise and great in the world are not those with the most money, power or belongings.

They are the ones who understand that just because our oceans are blue, not everyone else's are, nor do they have to be.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Guyana; PCVs in the Field - Guyana; Photography - Guyana; Stories; PC Day; Third Goal



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