"This is the first time I have had time to really get to know Americans (my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers) from other parts of the country and try to understand their point of view on political issues, ethnic traditions and all around general way of being."
For as long as I can remember, it was my dream to pack all my things, leave America, and become an international woman of business.
My humble beginnings as the youngest daughter of a broken home in Miami, Fl, left plenty to be desired of the world. Being a first generation child, both of my parents had an immense fear that I would fully assimilate into American culture and lose my Hispanic roots. At the same time, I think my mother knew that things at home got so out of hand that she just wanted me to have a break from the horrible things happening in our day-to-day life. So she sent me away. Away to Barranquilla, Colombia where I could reconnect to what home really was, away to Aruba to taste some of the finest chocolates a kid could hope, away on a Bahamas cruise even if just for the weekend.
My mother was always too busy fighting with my father throughout my childhood, and sending me away was flat out the easiest way for her to feel less guilty about me having to witness that.
Even though her actions to unknowing eyes might seem careless, I think really she was just trying her best to climb out of a really deep hole. She just wanted to send me away to a better place even if only for a little while. She certainly didn’t make the active choice to instill a lifelong dream of an international career into her youngest daughter.
But it turned out that she sent me away far enough and often enough that I became well aware of what the vast world had to offer me even if my immediate world seemed so small.
Although I am no stranger to traveling, the most important journey to impact my life is the one I began on August 2, 2016. Much to my family’s dismay, I accepted the invitation to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in none other than the country of my roots, Colombia.
Accepting this 27-month service started a very important chapter in my life, one where I could be free of all existing external variables weighing me down. I had worked relentlessly for the past 5 years when faced with financial hardship often tied to receiving a higher education. I balanced completing a Bachelor in Business Administration with managing a local multi-million dollar Williams-Sonoma store, independent catering gigs and overnight Burger King drive-thru shifts.
I always knew I wanted an international lifestyle but as a poor girl from Miami, I had no idea how to begin.
One night, I had the blessing of venting to an amazing friend who suggested I apply for the Peace Corps. I dared to dream and stayed up all night filling out the application and within 6 months I was cleared for my service. Never in a thousand years would I have thought to be enough to embark on an honor as big as this. Through this adventure I have been able to see my value as a global citizen that caused me so much struggle throughout my life. I have been able to understand the lesson of humility, and not to hold anger in my heart when the world inflicts pain and damage.
This experience has inspired me to try to understand my fellow Americans who serve with me abroad. In every sense of the word I am American but I have always lived in predominantly Hispanic/Latin regions of the world - Colombia, Miami, Los Angeles and I am, for lack of a better word, ignorant when it comes to the American mid-west, north-west, north central, etc. and as you might imagine, the demographic for the Peace Corps is a primarily white one.
This is the first time I have had time to really get to know Americans (my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers) from other parts of the country and try to understand their point of view on political issues, ethnic traditions and all around general ways of being.
I think it is really important to say this because there is so much diversity in the U.S. and it is a conversation that many Latinx citizens are scared to have. Interacting with my coworkers who are serving alongside me interest me so much, even if they confuse and frustrate me much more than I like to admit. My current boyfriend whom I met while serving, hails from Buffalo, NY and has opened the door for discussions on many wandering questions/curiosities I had about White American culture. I am not afraid to admit the ignorance on my part as part of the Latin community, who had to undeniably work much harder to achieve similar goals as my white counterparts. This new perspective had taught me to move past the frustration and hate I had in my heart for all the things I had to do to get to where I am and try to understand what I can do to move forward towards a better future.
Most importantly I have learned how to love others and how to love myself. I am enough to achieve my goals. I am enough to put others before me. I am enough of a woman to celebrate the parts of my culture that make me feel empowered and shed those that make me feel small.
Embarking on this trip to Colombia for 27 months is a memory that will consist of many small anecdotes: many of them adventurous, some of them frustrating, and all of which opened the door to who I really was, and fought so hard to be, all along.
**The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Colombian Government.**
Author - Yadezi Abreu
Latina, First Generation American, Chef, Business Woman and Peace Corps Volunteer (Not necessarily always in that order). You can read more about her here-> www.yadezi.wordpress.com
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