Filed under: India
When I found out in the Peace Corps I was moving back to India, I felt the usual thrill and adrenaline always associated with the prospect of living in such a beautifully chaotic place. As I had spent two years in Paraguay listening to Indian music, watching Indian movies, and cooking Indian dishes from scratch (much to the confusion of my neighbors and friends- is she American or Asian?), I dreamed about all of my experiences there and the incredible places I had felt a part of. Varanasi- one of the most spiritually charged and ancient places I’ve ever visited. Calcutta- the city of utter madness, and some of the best kathi rolls you’ll ever find. Bodhgaya, which holds the tree where it is said the Buddha was enlightened- and one of the best 16 mile treks I’ve ever taken. Dharamsala- home to my Tibetan family and the most incredible experience of my life. There seems to be no end to fabulous places in this jewel of a country.
Yet as I received my assignment for the Clinton fellowship, I was given the opportunity to live in Delhi. Delhi? The city of smog, crowds, and endless traffic? So hot in the summers you look as if you climbed out of a giant swimming pool every day? Home to hundreds of cheap hostels that are always accompanied by shady swindlers looking to rip off the average backpacker? I gritted my teeth, smiled, and bore it. Living in Delhi may not have been the most exotic of places, but at least it was in India.
But now that I’ve been living in Delhi for over 6 months, my perception of this city has entirely changed. My initial impressions of Delhi (which were carried out cumulatively within a 10 day period) are completely the opposite of what I feel now. I love this city. There’s a vibrancy to this place that I never realized before. There’s no limit to life here- a million things to eat, people to meet, markets to get lost for hours in, cultural monuments, endless concerts, incredible culture, and a touch of materialism that’s enough to get any American through her slight Western nostalgic cravings (Forever 21? We’ve got it. Starbucks? Yep. Hard Rock Café? 3D Cinemas? Bowling? Sushi? Check, check, and check. If Chipotle opened a chain here, I’d never leave). Perhaps it’s because I spent two years living under a rock in Paraguay, where the most lively place in my town was a hamburger joint, but I greatly appreciate the myriad of experiences this place offers me.
Unfortunately, Delhi has a less than stellar reputation globally. While discussing this with Indian friends and colleagues, they seem to be a little ashamed of the perception of their city. “Is the traffic as bad in the United States as it is here?” is a question I am commonly asked, usually while sitting in hours of clogged up highways where you can witness rickshaw-wallahs stop their engines in the middle of the road and hop out to buy cigarettes on the road-side. Safety for women is also a common topic of conversation, considering a scandal that hit the world stage last year where an Indian woman was tragically and repeatedly raped on a bus. And with the level of pollution here, I am often reprimanded to wear a mask or cover my face with a scarf while riding down the street.
Yet I’ve gotten so comfortable living here. With good common sense and a heightened sense of awareness, I’ve been able to navigate Delhi without once feeling threatened or unsafe.* I haven’t been subject to petty thievery or harassment (knock on wood), and I’ve always been accompanied by hordes of caring Indian colleagues or friends who make sure I feel comfortable no matter where I am. The traffic can be a bit annoying at times, but just takes a dose of patience and a smile. There’s plenty of smog to go around here, but it comes and goes. Plus, the Delhi metro really is worthy of major boasting. Sorry NYC Subway, you just pale in comparison.
The rest of this place dazzles me. I’ve never felt so connected to a city before, and I’ve lived in quite a few of them, including Los Angeles and New York. There’s something marvelous about this place that I can’t quite describe. So many unique pockets to explore, so many different languages and customs, something in the air that’s spicy and explosive. Life is never dull here; there’s always a new adventure around the corner, and I have the ability to step out of my own front door and witness fascinating events where I’m constantly learning something new. It’s a kind of spontaneity I love, but where I can return back to the cocoon of comfort any time I choose. Or perhaps the magic in the air here really is just my comfort, and that is the true definition of feeling at home.
* Note: Delhi, as well as many other mega-cities around the world, can absolutely be a dangerous place. Visitors and travelers should approach this city with a heightened sense of self-awareness at ALL times. For first-timers, please consult a guidebook or any other form of ‘Delhi-411′ information to mitigate your risks of being in any potentially unsafe positions. But with a few simple steps to counter any prospective danger, count on an unforgettable experience!
Filed under: India
The past five months living in Delhi have been a whirlwind of both intense love, spirit, joy, and simultaneously tragedy, pain, and sadness. These two far-flung dichotomies have always been ever-present in my experiences here, so I should not have been surprised when India once again delivered. Yet I still find myself suffering from a sort of proverbial whiplash from how equally penetrating and powerful these conflicting feelings have played a part in my life. I always step into this country with such awe and wonder, yet I then find myself suddenly facedown on the pavement without quite knowing how I got there.
I arrived in Delhi in September on a hot summer evening (or perhaps a very early morning) to meet 34-odd other Clinton fellows that would come to make up a crucial part of my experience here. As our first week of orientation went by, I found my voice and spirit that only ever seems to exist in this country: raw, pure, passionate love emanated from me. I felt fully myself and alive in ways I had forgotten, a vulnerability that I had buried within myself and only came out in rare spurts. The jaded and bitter edge my personality had taken, like rust to steel, after two years of isolation and loneliness in the middle of rural Paraguay, disappeared completely. Spontaneity, compassion, adventure, and lots of good humor took their place. My soul was singing.
Good friends have called me extremely resilient and strong over these past few months in India. I always seemed to have a smile on my face, even while getting Dengue fever and spending two weeks in the hospital. While being put back in the hospital again a month later, this time in the ICU. While being admitted to the hospital a day later again for internal bleeding and going through minor surgery. While making the decision to go home to the United States to recuperate for a month from being so ill. But if you are living your best life and being your best self, how can something so trivial get you down? If I died, at least I would die with my eyes wide open to the world.
Truth be told, it did affect me, but not in the ways you would expect. I felt a heavy sense of guilt, so heavy it became almost unbearable. Feelings about not being able to serve the organization I worked with in the ways I wanted or that they expected became a heavy weight in my heart. I felt a deep sense of appreciation, but also burden, to my friends, family, and to the fellowship for spending huge gaps of their time and resources to take care of me. The expectations I placed on myself to make up for these gaps were not necessarily fair, but they were there nonetheless.
I sought solace and comfort in a bond that quickly became my main pillar of strength, that I easily let become one of the only things that made it manageable. I let it return me back to the world of the highest highs, feeling reckless and free. Riding this wave, I went back to the United States in a sullen mood, not ready to let go of the magic India promised me. Life in the US was full of medication, of doctor’s visits, of rest and sleep and utter boredom. There was no enchantment there, only a reality to face that I had had a serious brush with death in India, and I had to really take care of myself if I wanted to return.
I counted down the seemingly never-ending days and finally returned to this country, eager to get back to the life I had left here. Yet as much as you can will for permanence, life is always changing, and India was not the same as I had left it. I watched in a sort of muted horror as I slowly saw that this pillar I had leaned into was rotting at the seams, crumbling away to dust. The only response I could permit myself at the time was to hold on stronger, even when its sharpness cut me, even when I allowed myself easy lies because the truth was too much, even when I knew it was wrong. I held on until I was left clutching nothing but permanent damage and scarred memories. I felt numb with regret, paralyzed by the onslaught of emotions it brought out in me, feelings I hadn’t allowed myself to fully process in months; in some cases, years. My mind felt cracked open at the seams, raw and exposed. I struggled to hide behind excuses, willing the people around me to accept the shoddily-crafted half-truths I hastily created, hating myself for not being able to stop the onslaught of emotions that were pouring out of me like a broken faucet.
This is my constant cycle in India. There is something about this country that doesn’t make me afraid to pull out the most precious part of myself, the part that everywhere else I protect and guard. It is in these moments that I am the most wonderful and alive, a beauty and power that will astonish even myself. Yet every time I have taken off this armor, I have been both simultaneously greatly rewarded and deeply wounded. Perhaps it is an inclination in others to mar something they see so innocent and pure. Perhaps I give my heart away to the world too quickly. Perhaps my intense love for everything I see and feel blinds my judgment.
But would I have it any other way? Could I have it any way? No, I could not. I am in India for that magic that I can only seem to draw out of myself here, because knowing that such a thing exists within me and that I can live it is worth more than any pain.
In my posts, I always try to end things on a good note, like there is always a positive side to suffering, a revelation or lesson that others can embody or learn from. I don’t feel like ending things on a good note right now, because they are not. Losing an important constant in my present life is hard to bear, harder than I can put into words. Time heals all wounds and whether we want to or not, things must normalize again. But sometimes it feels good to admit that you have no conclusion, and to live with the pain for awhile. That’s where I am in this present; perhaps for the first time, I am not afraid to say it.
Filed under: India
It is 7:30 PM on a Saturday in South India, and I have decided to write again.
I took a break from blogging for many reasons. I felt bored with it. Writing in this exact same medium for the past five years- on ‘traveling and growing through the world’- started to lose its sheen even to me. The eagerness of sharing my experiences, which felt new and foreign for longer than it probably should have, started to feel dull after living for two years in the same place, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay. I realized I was no longer the person I was when I created this- even though I wanted to be.
Discontent started to settle in that nothing could diminish- not the sense of duty I felt in helping those that wanted to delve into my same experiences, the excitement of growing readership, or the obligation to keep an account of my life that I could look back on over the years. Blogging became a chore, something to tick off a list of things to do. Initial pleasure at writing turned into anxiety as weeks and countless experiences slipped by that I could not motivate myself to share. So, I disconnected from the blog-o-sphere and from social media, and decided to re-discover the magic of India alone.
Five months into living in Delhi, I’ve recognized the importance of sorting out these experiences and putting the proverbial pen to paper. I feel refreshed and ready to start sharing again, though perhaps in a different format than before. The format is still being conceptualized to me, but I think it will be less of a “this is my account of my travels in the world,” and more of a “this is an account of my life, whatever it may be.” I like to think that my writing has always been honest, but this will be more honest. I like to think that my writing has been personal, but this will definitely be more personal. The shackles of writing about myself on such a public forum for all of the world to see don’t seem as heavy as they used to, even if they probably should.
I will not hold myself to writing once a week as I did, and ultimately didn’t follow, in the Peace Corps. I want everything that comes out to be natural, raw, and real in the moment. Perhaps that could come out as three posts in one year, or three posts in a day. I will not hold myself to trying to grow my website or strategize ways to grow my readership. It was always something I toyed with, never ultimately took any action on, and have decided now to not move forward with. This is a lovely hobby that I enjoy immensely, but do not feel obligated to.
There may be some changes, but I am confident that they will be positive ones. The bottom line is, I am back to the blogging world, and it feels like a new beginning.
Filed under: India
Hello all, great to see you around the Internets. My self-imposed sabbatical from BrittanyGoesGlobal has been a wonderful respite (though not a restful one, as it never is in India), and one I plan on continuing for awhile longer. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out in the world doing a little blogging about India!
- Over on Pink Pangea, I wrote a piece on The Top 10 Things Every Female Traveler Should Bring to India. So if you’re a female and thinking of traveling to this awesome country, it’s a worthwhile read.
- On the ‘AIF Fellows’ Blog, I wrote about what it was like having Dengue (I caught it in September).
- Apartment-Hunting in Delhi? Here’s a piece I wrote on 10 Steps to Finding an Awesome and Cheap Flat.
- Check out my attempt on slam poetry on What It Is To Be In India. I originally wrote this while I was in Hyderabad in 2009, but with a few edits it still stands fresh today as a good depiction on what the sights, smells, and feelings of traveling here is like.
- And of course, feel free to wander on over to my other blog, 365 For Year 25, which I just updated with pictures of my daily life in India.
Generally, I am really enjoying my time in here, living in New Delhi, and working at my placement organization. Life is extremely busy, but that’s how I like it.
Happy reading and stay tuned for more updates! I have a great blog post coming up on Pink Pangea soon on comparisons between Paraguay and India.
Filed under: Paraguay
I received word this Summer that the Peace Corps wanted to feature my blog post I wrote on Never Giving Up: my two students both tying for first place at our national business plan competition. A few days ago my post went live on their Peace Corps Passport blog.
Writing has always been a huge goal throughout my experience, so thank you to the Peace Corps for featuring me and sharing with the world my amazing students who worked so hard to follow their dreams.
I’m excited to officially make public that I will be going to India on a 10-month fellowship! I will be a William J. Clinton fellow at the American India Foundation for the next 10 months, working with an NGO in New Delhi. I am very excited about the fellowship, and I feel quite blessed to be able to take part in such a prestigious opportunity while heading back to the number one country in the world that I love: my India. I leave TOMORROW (!!!!) for a week-long orientation with 35 other fellows, and my bags are all packed for another adventure in the world.
Another announcement: I am taking a hiatus from brittanygoesglobal. I love this project dearly and it has been such a pleasure writing on here for over 4 years now. It has been a great outlet to express my feelings on traveling throughout the world and living within different cultures. With that being said, I feel that one of the benefits of being in the Peace Corps has taught me to fully appreciate the present moment, so over the past year I’ve found it increasingly challenging to write about all of my experiences when they happen. It’s gotten to the point where posting has become sort of a chore, something to cross off my list. As much as I love writing about my life and there are times when inspiration strikes (those are always the best posts), I would like to wholly step into this new experience in India- and after thinking about it a lot, I have decided to take a break. I’m not sure how long it will be- it could be a few weeks, or a few months- but you can still keep up with my life and travels on Pink Pangea, where I will be a foreign correspondent and posting once every few weeks about India.
Thanks for reading and for the support in all of my travels throughout the world. See all of you in a bit!
Filed under: Paraguay
Talking about leaving Paraguay and finishing my service in the Peace Corps has left me with the biggest writer’s block EVER. I can’t seem to encapsulate into words what it’s like to have had my biggest dream and life goal for years- I think even before I was fully conscious of it- suddenly and completely accomplished. This is it: I am no longer a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, and the dream (and truthfully, at some of my worst moments what felt like a nightmare) has been fulfilled. I am back in the United States of America without a visible dent in my visage (except for a bit of a poochy gut thanks to too much fried meat and mandioca- definitely a recuerdo I did not want to bring back from Paraguay, but here it is nonetheless. Sit-ups, anyone?). Yet, while on the outside I pass by total strangers who see me as just another person, I feel as if I’m walking along with some invisible branding: Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Paraguay. It was life-changing. Ask me about it.
For all of the parade and fanfare through every step of the Peace Corps application process: nomination, medical clearance, invitation, staging, training, and finally the Swear-In ceremony of becoming a REAL Peace Corps Volunteer, I must say that the act of ‘Swearing Out’ of the Peace Corps is pretty anti-climatic in comparison. Yet, it was a beautiful way to say goodbye. My training group, G-36, proudly assembled in the Peace Corps conference room at the office to be showered with accolades by our bosses and all of the staff. Our boss Elisa gave a long and lovely speech, praising each of us personally for specific projects we accomplished in our sites and on national projects. The Peace Corps Country Director, Emily, thanked us for our hard work and dedication as Volunteers for two years in Paraguay. We watched a slideshow of pictures of our two years in the Peace Corps as a G- trainings, camps, get-togethers, all with lots of good food and dancing. Our G-mate Sam stood up to say some words of thanks in fluent Spanish to the entire office, to Paraguay, and to our G. And finally, as is the custom in Paraguay, we received certificates of completion of service. When I got back from Paraguay, I of course had it framed. After the ceremony we were cheered on by our sister G and other Volunteers in the office, took lots of funny pictures, and ate some incredible good-bye cake.
G-36 Pre Swear-Out Ceremony
Our amazing boss Elisa praising each of us.
The entire Community Economic Development team.
Sam giving a thank-you speech on behalf of our G.
The best part of swear-out: Paraguayan cake.
Three generations of CED: G-36, our sister G, G-39, and our replacement G, G-42.
Stephanie and I
On Saturday morning, July 6th, I woke up with the heavy realization that it was my last full day in Paraguay. I wandered up and down the streets of Asunción, buying some last-minute memories of my soon-not-to-be home, eventually breaking down in a souvenirs shop and gasping through sobs to the store owner what a beautiful country she has and how terribly I will miss it. On the upside, it scored me an unintentional heavy discount on a gorgeous traditional ñanduti lace souvenir- just another homage to the kindness of strangers here. In the evening, I attended my last ‘Ahendu,’ a tri-annual concert put on by Peace Corps Volunteers and Paraguayans. Our band of G-36 members rocked out to a few songs, with me on drum-set. We had group shots and lots of dancing, hugs, and tears.
Repping with our G-36 shirts
Celebratory toast to our accomplishment.
G-36 band playing one last Ahendu.
And suddenly that was that: at 7 AM the next day, the Country Director graciously drove me to the airport, and before I knew it I had left Paraguay and the Peace Corps forever.
I am back in the United States, as I have been for two months now. Being home with family has been incredible- but it still doesn’t feel like the journey is over. It feels as if I am still in Peace Corps Paraguay and am merely on vacation. It’s strange not popping into the Peace Corps office. It’s strange not eating at Todo Rico or carrying the usual 30 pounds worth of groceries to the bus terminal. It’s strange not sitting on a cramped bus for 5 hours. It’s strange not seeing my friends or my Paraguayan family. Even though I’ve been back for two months, something feels so out of place. I think it’s that I’m still expecting to return to what I thought was home- except it is not my home anymore. And even though I lived my life for two years without hot water, air conditioning or heating, with washing my clothes in a bucket, living with tarantulas and mold and scabies and dirt roads and cramped public transportation and carrying everything everywhere and and and… with all of those hardships, there became a sort of comfort, tranquility, and slowness in that lifestyle that I miss terribly, and that life doesn’t seem right without.
It’s still too much to process for me that this incredible experience and adventure is over, but I know that I will come to understand and accept it at some point. All that I can and will do is be eternally grateful of the entire experience, for all that it was, even the bad. The Peace Corps may be over, but it is something that will live eternally within me forever. I may no longer be living in Paraguay, but it is a place I will carry in my heart no matter where I go. And wherever my life will take me in the future, I know that I will always have the lessons I learned from this experience to keep things in perspective and provide me with guidance.And for that, I am eternally grateful and so proud of myself for following and achieving my dream of being in the Peace Corps.
Thank you, Paraguay.
My Peace Corps Certificate of Completion
Filed under: Paraguay
Are you interested in reading about every project I’ve done as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay? Well, in an attempt to be as transparent as possible about my service, and additionally create a space where potential job opportunities/graduate schools/future networking possibilities can read about my projects in a formal and professional format, I’ve posted my official ‘Description of Service’ on my website! (Want formal and profesh? Check out this blog title, yo. This is my attempt to be lighthearted in this straight-laced post. You probably got that though. I don’t know why I’m still talking.)
‘What’s a Description of Service?’ you may ask. It is an account of all of the projects and activities I did as a Peace Corps Trainee and Volunteer in Paraguay from May 26th, 2011 to July 5th, 2013. This is an official document that is archived in the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington D.C. for a period of 60 years after completion of service. It was reviewed by my primary boss, Associate Peace Corps Director Elisa Echague of the Community Economic Development Sector, and reviewed and signed by the Country Director of Peace Corps Paraguay, Emily Untermeyer.
The document spans three pages, so it’s quite long. But, it’s something I’m excited and proud to share. If you’re interested in reading about all of the projects I’ve done as a Volunteer, head on over to my newly created page, My Description of Service.
Or, if you’re feeling too lazy to click (I get that way
all the time sometimes), I’ve also just copy/pasted it below. Happy reading!
Description of Peace Corps Service
Brittany Ann Boroian
Republic of Paraguay 2011-2013
After a competitive application process stressing technical skills, motivation, adaptability, and cross-cultural understanding, Peace Corps invited Ms. Boroian to serve as a Community Economic Development Volunteer in the South American nation of Paraguay.
Ms. Boroian began an intensive 10-week Pre-Service Training on May 26th, 2011 in Guarambare, a small sugar-processing center located 45 minutes south of the capital, Asunción. The program consisted of language training, technical skills training on Community Economic Development, and Common Areas training. As part of the technical training, Ms. Boroian spent time preparing and delivering sessions where techniques were observed and critiqued by Paraguayan trainers and local guests.
Training program included:
- 120 hours of formal Language training of spoken and written Spanish and Guaraní.
- 90 hours of Common Areas training which encompasses cultural adaptation, introduction to development, safety and security, and health training
- 183 hours of technical skills training and field based activities to promote increased economic opportunities, leadership skills, and capacity building with individuals and groups in their communities
- In addition, as part of the language and cross-cultural component of the training program, Ms. Boroian lived with a Paraguayan family for 10 weeks.
On August 5th, 2011, Ms. Boroian completed training and was sworn-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She was assigned to Caazapá, a medium-sized city in the department of Caazapá, roughly 300 km Southeast of Asunción. Spanish is spoken there, although women and children frequently use Guarani, the national native language, for daily life.
During her first year Ms. Boroian worked on a range of projects within her community. In her placement with the cooperative Ycua Bolaños, she primarily worked with its Production Department in offering marketing and sales strategy seminars to women’s commission groups. Ms. Boroian also participated in a variety of micro-finance trainings with the cooperative’s micro-finance consultant, and offered resources and suggestions to better promote their loan product. During her second year, Ms. Boroian assisted the Production Department by undertaking a sales analysis for their honey products. Additionally, she improved the entrance display, which enabled them to make smarter purchases and increase their sales. Ms. Boroian also aided in investigating new markets outside of Caazapá by researching different market segments for their product and connecting them to two national distribution companies.
Outside of the cooperative, Ms. Boroian was invited by two local high schools and one university to teach four Construye tus Sueños courses, a youth micro-entrepreneurship curriculum developed by Peace Corps, to over 100 students. At the culmination of the university course, Ms. Boroian held a local business plan competition, enabling the top two students to attend Paraguay Emprende, a national youth business program designed and implemented by Peace Corps Paraguay. Ms. Boroian worked with Servicio Nacional de Promoción Profesional (SNPP) to certify the course, enabling her students to be accredited in any South American country under MERCOSUR. Ms. Boroian additionally consulted with a number of small businesses in Caazapá, including a local grocery store, confectionary shop, weight loss program, and a TV station.
While Ms. Boroian concentrated mainly on entrepreneurship and economic development in her service, she also worked on a number of leadership activities. Ms. Boroian helped form a local entrepreneurship network with four Paraguayan youth, with the intention of job creation and building leadership through entrepreneurial activities for the community. Ms. Boroian also was an active leader in the Boy and Girl Scouts Group in Caazapá, where she helped facilitate weekly leadership and self-esteem activities. Furthermore, Ms. Boroian attended and brought two youth to both Jóvenes por Paraguay leadership camps (a Community Economic Development national workshop promoting self-esteem and leadership that inspires, equips, and mobilizes youth to work on community projects).
Ms. Boroian was an active member of her sector’s national initiative, Jóvenes Empresarios del Paraguay, (now Paraguay Emprende), a youth business program designed and implemented by Peace Corps Paraguay’s Community Economic Development Volunteers. As Project Manager of the initiative, Ms. Boroian coordinated the efforts of over twenty-five Volunteers to put on the first national business plan competition as well as a national business case competition, both monetized at over $20,000. Through the yearlong initiative, over 400 Paraguayan youth attended the business course Construye tus Sueños, 30 viable business plans were created, and 10 start-ups were launched in Paraguay. She additionally brought 7 Paraguayans in total from Caazapá to the national events. Ms. Boroian’s main roles in the project were in team strategy, partner acquisition, and working with a team to fundraise over $10,000. Ms. Boroian helped to acquire partnerships with two prominent Paraguayan organizations that provide funding and contacts for current and future events, so as to sustain their operations long after her departure.
Although officially assigned as a Community Economic Development Volunteer, Ms. Boroian worked on a variety of secondary projects. In her first few months of service she organized a tree-planting project with a local agricultural school, enabling Paraguayan youth to plant over 100 trees in a community conservation center in Caazapá. Ms. Boroian additionally collaborated with neighboring Volunteers to create a half-hour weekly TV program on Caazapá’s local network,Causa Común, where they discussed topics related to farming, blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, biodigesters, family finance, nutrition, entrepreneurship, dental health, parasite prevention, self-esteem, and other affiliated subjects.
Ms. Boroian taught seven English as a Second Language classes during her service to various groups of adults and children. She taught these classes in a variety of institutions, including the local cooperative, a teacher’s institute, and a local primary and middle school. She used the classes to increase the student’s knowledge of the language and culture by utilizing interactive American games, prizes, and stories from the United States. Ms. Boroian organized activities to raise cultural awareness of the United States in the grade school as well through a pen pal exchange program with a 6th grade class in Florida, and a visit from her parents and sister. Ms. Boroian helped advance the job prospects of one student who applied to three positions that required English. She helped him study for the TEFL and proofread his resume, cover letters, and application materials for each job.
Ms. Boroian taught a variety of classes during her service to various groups of adults and children. Through the Peace Corps Paraguay program Ahecha, a participatory photography project, Ms. Boroian helped bring a new life perspective through the guided use of cameras to adults in her community. She gave drum set lessons to a group of students at a local music school, teaching them to both play and sight read. At a local primary school, Ms. Boroian held a school-wide recycling competition with fellow Peace Corps Volunteers in her regional nucleus to educate Paraguayan youth on the importance of recycling. She awarded the two classes that produced the best results a 4-month World Cultures class. Through this course, Ms. Boroian promoted the importance of service to her students by creating and painting a world map with them for the school. She additionally increased their knowledge of world geography and regions of the world such as India, Kenya, and the United States with cultural activities, movies depicting the countries, and cooking local food for them to try.
Ms. Boroian was as an active member of the Kuatia ñe’e, a tri-annual Peace Corps Paraguay magazine, where she contributed articles and worked as layout editor. She also published a number of articles about life in Paraguay in Vida de Latinos, a South American magazine, Pink Pangea, a women’s travel community, and her widely-read blog, brittanygoesglobal. These articles gave detailed accounts of Paraguayan culture and customs, achieving Peace Corp’s third goal of helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
Ms. Boroian has achieved an advanced high competency level in Spanish at the end of her service. She effectively used Spanish to communicate in her work at school, with her colleagues, community contacts, and in daily life. In addition, Ms. Boroian was also able to learned basic Guarani, which she used at the marketplace, with friends in her community who possessed limited or no Spanish skills.
Ms. Boroian completed her Peace Corps service in Paraguay on July 5th, 2013.
Pursuant to section 5(f) of the Peace Corps Act 22 U.S.C 2504 (f) as amended, any former volunteer employed by the United States Government following her Peace Corps Volunteer service is entitled to have any period of satisfactory Peace Corps Volunteer service credited for purposes of retirement, seniority, reduction in force, leave and other privileges based on length of federal government service. Peace Corps service shall not be credited toward completion of the probationary or trial period or completion of any service requirement for career appointment.
This is to certify in accordance with Executive Order No. 11103 of 10 April 1963, that Brittany Ann Boroian served satisfactorily as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Her service in Paraguay ended on July 5th, 2013. She is therefore eligible to be appointed as a career-conditional employee in the competitive civil service on a non-competitive basis. This benefit under the Executive Order entitlement extends for a period of one year after termination of the Volunteer’s service, except that the employing agency may extend that period for up to three years for a former Volunteer who enters military service, pursues studies at a recognized institution of higher learning, or engages in other activities that, in the view of the appointing authority, warrant extension of the period.
Signed by the Country Director of Peace Corps Paraguay, Emily Untermeyer, on July 5th, 2013.
The Peace Corps never tells you how hard it will be to leave the community you’ve called home for the past 2 years of your life. It’s so hard that I felt it was impossible to even write about it, and so I kept putting it off. But everything deserves a proper ending, no matter how difficult, so I’ll do my best to convey my final week in Caazapá.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so emotionally drained as I did during the last week in my site, even though it was by far the most incredible week of my service, and probably one of the best and most memorable of my life. The littlest things would send me spiraling into a blubbering mess: packing, realizing I had ’3 days left,’ walking down a street and wondering if this would be my ‘last time going down this street,’ etc. My Paraguayan friends started to make it into a game to count how many times I cried over a five-day period. We lost track after the second.
It’s interesting to reflect on how much leaving this time period in my life has affected me. First off, I’m not the biggest crier, yet I found myself welling up over the tiniest things. Every day as I got closer and closer to finishing my service in Caazapá, it came with such a sense of foreboding and anxiousness that I had never experienced. It was as if I didn’t believe life continued on after the Peace Corps- strangely enough, I remember feeling very much that way at the end of high school. Both were similar in that they were huge chapters in my life ending. Second, I can’t say that these past two years have been the happiest of my life- far from it, I would say that while it’s been an incredible and life-changing experience, it’s also been the most challenging, frustrating, and at times, isolating time period. Yet while I initially felt an immense sense of relief and happiness at coming back to the United States at the end of my service, as the days got closer and closer I felt more apprehensive and sad to leave. And while I had felt through most of my service that I had fistfuls of time, more time than I knew what to do with than ever before- the last two months of my service flew by so fast that I blinked, and it was gone. And saying goodbye had never been harder in my life.
Things went by in stages in my final week. I found myself wrapping up all of my classes.
Finishing my final World Cultures Class
My 6th Grade Students showing some love
Teaching my cooperative some sales strategy to promote their newest product, honey packets
My final ‘Build Your Dreams’ Entrepreneurship Class
My friends at the local University invited me to a goodbye party.
Bombtastic pizza made by Marlene
Then my local VAC-mates (Peace Corps Volunteers that live close-by to me) threw me a good-bye party in Caazapá.
All of us immediately passed out on our super comfy beds… before going out to rage it in Caazapá, that is! And by rage, I mean eat dinner and have a beer.
I made a quick trip to my homestay family’s house from training to visit them one last time. There were lots of tears.
My homestay family showing off my gift- some favorite pictures.
Then my training group, G-36, held a little going-away party for all of us at a retreat outside of the capital, which I popped by for the first night before heading back for my final weekend in site.
Gathering together to eat a ginormous and delicious meal prepared by chef Kevin.
Inhaling said food.
Oh yeah, and then this happened.
Love you, G-36.
My contact Carlos and his wife invited me over to their house for one last carne asado.
Mouthwatering carne de chancho- grilled pig. Possibly the best I have ever had.
Carlos and his wife Doris peeling a typical Paraguayan dessert- yummy oranges, which you suck like a juicebox.
And then my neighbors threw me a little goodbye party with- you guessed it- more carne de chancho.
My wonderful neighbors/homestay family for the past two years in Caazapá.
Meanwhile, I spent my days packing up my house as it slowly turned into a depressing shadow of its former self.
My boxes that I left for my follow-up Volunteer
Kitchen, sans table or any posters/pictures
My kitchen, without… a kitchen.
Taken on my last day in my house, my finished ‘Messages of Love’ project.
I had to say good-bye to my wonderful kitten, which was one of the hardest moments of saying good-bye.
Oh my Harry! I love you so.
Danielle, a Peace Corps Volunteer that lives by me, graciously offered to take care of him.
Then, the cooperative held a little good-bye party for me. There were a few speeches and I gave a brief summary of all of the work I did in Caazapá over the past two years. My contact Carlos presented me with a wonderful certificate thanking me for helping the Production department (certificates are big in Paraguay).
Good-bye fiesta at Cooperative Ycua Bolaños
I finished painting the World Map I had been working on for months, and then cried when it was finished (typical at this point).
Then, on my final day, I handed in the keys to my house. I didn’t take any pictures because it was too sad to see my house so barren and cheerless. When my landlord came to collect the keys, I really lost it. I wandered up and down my street like a loser visiting my neighbor’s houses and wailing that I no longer lived in Caazapá anymore while they all hugged and kissed my tear-stained face, whispering things like “Te quiero mucho, che muñeka” (I love you very much, my little doll). My neighbors and adopted Paraguayan family cheered me up by dancing to ‘Gangnam Style’ in their living room and feeding me glass after glass of wine mixed with Guaraná soda. After I was sufficiently calm (and drunk), we raced around Caazapá, up and down the center of the town, and they helped me bring my bags up to Denis’s house, where I was spending my final night.
I spent my final night in Caazapá the way I loved best: with Denis and Liz and our other friends Gracia and Joaquin, blasting Paraguayan music, eating carne asado, drinking wine and coke, watching movies, and running all around the city taking pictures in all of our favorite places.
Celebrating my final night with typical rico carne de chancho and spicy chorizo.
Lying in the middle of the road in Caazapá at 2 AM
Me and Denis
Me with my best friends.
We didn’t go to bed until 5 AM, which was pretty pointless since I had to get up at 7 AM to catch my final bus out of Caazapá. Denis, Liz, and Gracia all drove me to the terminal as we passed through the main avenue one last time (at this point I was mentally willing the tears to stop streaming down my face). The ticket salesman, a young Paraguayan who always flirted with me mercilessly every time I got on a bus, looked dumbfounded as I popped out of Denis’s car, laden down by three very heavy bags.
“Are you leaving? For good?” he asked incredulously. My throat was so tight that all I could do was nod.
At the last second, my neighbor and Paraguayan mother Mari showed up, and we sobbed and hugged, as I clung to these truly wonderful friends that had changed my life and made my experience in Paraguay so worthwhile.
Paraguayans have this saying: you come to Paraguay crying because you don’t want to go. You leave Paraguay crying because you don’t want to leave. Peace Corps doesn’t tell you that leaving will be one of the hardest things about this experience. But it’s also in those moments that you realize how incredible and special it all was, how worthwhile and enriching of an experience you had, and how every moment from then on will be a reward from those 2 years you lived and served in the Peace Corps.
Surprisingly, I didn’t cry on the bus ride out of Caazapá, and remained dry-eyed through the last 5 hour bus-ride to Asunción I would ever have to take. I felt incredible. In that moment, I felt like the most blessed person alive.