February 9, 2005: Headlines: COS - El Salvador: PCVs in the Field - El Salvador: Haddon Herald: Ryan Neal lives in El Salvador working with the town hall, schools, and people of his small, rural community

Peace Corps Online: Directory: El Salvador: Peace Corps El Salvador : The Peace Corps in El Salvador: February 9, 2005: Headlines: COS - El Salvador: PCVs in the Field - El Salvador: Haddon Herald: Ryan Neal lives in El Salvador working with the town hall, schools, and people of his small, rural community

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Ryan Neal lives in El Salvador working with the town hall, schools, and people of his small, rural community

Ryan Neal lives in El Salvador working with the town hall, schools, and people of his small, rural community

Ryan Neal lives in El Salvador working with the town hall, schools, and people of his small, rural community

It's slow and easy in El Salvador

By Ryan Neal, Special to The Haddon Herald


This is the first of a series of articles written by a Haddon Heights resident volunteering for the Municipal Development Program in the United States Peace Corps.

Ryan Neal, 22, lives in El Salvador working with the town hall, schools, and people of his small, rural community.

Neal was graduated in 2004 from Loyola College in Baltimore, Md. with a B.B.A. in International Business and Asian Studies. He began his 27-month service three weeks later.

Deciding to join the Peace Corps was one of the easiest yet hardest decisions of my life. After living and studying in Southeast Asia during six months of college I knew what I was getting myself in to. I also knew what I was giving up. However, the sacrifices have been made and it was time to move on with life after college.

So, here I am, living in a small town named Jujutla (Who-whoot-la) close to the border of Guatemala, which is cropped in the middle of the mountains surrounded by acres of corn, coffee plants, and sugar cane.

It has been eight months since I arrived in El Salvador, and I have done everything I can to adapt and assimilate myself to the Salvadoran lifestyle, customs, and culture. However, even though I have made every effort to adjust to my life there are still the frustrations and difficulties present as I attempt to work productively alongside my counterpart and community.

It is a different land, a different language, and a different outlook on life. The national tranquility that I encounter seems to slow each and every process as people here simply pass the time during the day.

Coming from a country where I am accustomed to spending time in a day filled with planned activities this experience has forced me to be more creative and to enjoy and value the time I spend just hanging around talking with friends.

Taking on the blasé, laid back, and relaxed approach to life, many Salvadorans don't take time as serious as we do. It is as if they almost expect to wait for everything they do and it doesn't annoy them as easily. To them, it seems like it is just a part of life.

I first realized the way things work when I arrived early for a 7:30 a.m. meeting. It didn't start until the last person strolled in at 9 in typical Salvadoran time.

My new, simpler life has been stripped of the constant pressure, stress, and deadlines that I once had. The free time that I presently have is practically overflowing from my calendar, leaving me with amble opportunities to pass the time with the families and friends I have grown close to, working on projects that I have created, having some quality hammock time, or studying Spanish.

After 15 weeks of living with a family and truly experiencing a Salvadoran life, I have moved out on my own for the first time in my life - no college roommate and no friend from town or high school.

I never would have thought that my first house would be all to myself in the middle of the mountains of a Spanish-speaking country. But as the days pass I like it just the way things are.

I wouldn't pass up the Peace Corps experience for anything, even if it meant that my clothes weren't washed by hand, I could sleep in a bed without a mosquito net, I could actually take a lukewarm shower, and I don't have to boil my drinking water or bleach my fruits and vegetables.

I have left the comfortable niche and luxuries behind me for over two years. I live simpler, and in a way, somewhat easier. The days are quiet and tranquil, and the people of my community wake up with smiles everyday, most before dawn, to the normal struggles that they have been living with since their childhood.

After experiencing over a decade of civil war, they have made me feel safe and are constantly taking me under their wings. They make me feel at home, and I am forever grateful to them. It makes life just that much easier. Every morning I open my front door to the picture-perfect view of the mountains and ocean, ready to start a fresh day and continue the work that I was meant to do.

Peace Corps says that this is supposedly the toughest job I will ever love. Well, they couldn't have said it any better. I love what I do and where I am in the world. This is my life. I am a Peace Corps Volunteer.

¡Adiós! Until next time....

©Haddon Herald 2005

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Haddon Herald

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - El Salvador; PCVs in the Field - El Salvador



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