Sunday, July 5, 2009

the boys

Next weekend, when I return home from my visits to the households and workplaces of UAC-CP students and grads, I'm going to find the Volunteer House a little bit quieter. Volunteers Andy Engel and Sam Clair are leaving Carmen Pampa this week--they've finished one year of service at the College.

Sam and Andy inside the little hut we stayed in during our 3-day Choro Trail Inca Hike in April.

Andy and Sam (or "The Boys," as I've taken to calling them), both graduates of University of Wisconsin-River Falls, arrived in Carmen Pampa last July. By the time I got here a month later they were already well-invested in their work. While they mostly lent their efforts to teaching English in the Ecotourism Department, they also found their niche in other areas. Specifically, Andy helped me with CPF development work and Sam managed one of the student Agronomy learning labs in the College's vegetable garden.

Of course we have all appreciated their ability to be responsible and reliable. They are hard workers and we're grateful for their service to the College. But, it is their energy that I will miss most--their good natured, easy-going and youthful spirits that will leave a hole in our volunteer community.

Andy (back in his clean-shaven, short hair days) with Agronomy student Bryan Gonzales at the College's Intercarreras Festival in October '08.

Life in Carmen Pampa is not for everyone.* It takes what some may consider to be obscene amounts of patience, creativity, and understanding. It takes an extra special sense of adventure and a sense of humor--to laugh at both yourself and situations. It takes the ability to make lemonade out of lemons, as they say....or, as Sam showed us, to transform a peach pie recipe into a delicious mango pie-esque dessert.

We have lots of short-term volunteers who come and go throughout the year, and it's usually never easy to say goodbye (like, Smith College math instructor Mary Murphy is leaving this week, too, and we´re gonna miss her motherly touch--for both our students AND the gringo community). But considering that I've been sharing the same living space with The Boys' tranquilo dispositions for the past year, it will be a particularly more difficult farewell.

Clearly, I will really miss them. I will miss Andy's fresh baked bread and Sam's homemade sauerkraut. I will miss being greeted each morning in the kitchen with ready-made coffee and the Smoky '08 "Airplane Song." I will miss their random mid-afternoon visits to my office, our spontaneous Jackson Five and Boney M dance parties, and our "nights out" for chicharron. And, of course, I will miss the ongoing conversations (and conspiracy theories!) about all those infamous Bolivian tubers.

Sam shakes the tambourine at an all-staff retreat.

But more than anything, I will miss their energy, their enthusiasm. I will miss their willingness to challenge themselves, to try new things. They are both gifted in their ability to approach people and situations with an open mind and to process experiences with curiosity, humor, and appreciation. I will miss that.

Whether they know it or not, they've made my time here so much richer...more laugh-out-loud hysterical. I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors (Andy is going to travel for a while and Sam, inspired by his work with our Agronomy Department, is going back to college to study horticulture).

Q' les vaya bien, chicos. Obviously.

*Sam's mom Carol will back me up on this, I know! Right, Carol?

1 comment:

Carol Clair said...

Hi Sarah,

I'd agreee with you about living in Carmen Pampa not being for everyone? It's that way for a lot of things, right? But it's a great place to visit ~~ as long as a person's health (breathing for one) is good and can walk a lot comfortably ~~ something a lot of older people can't do OR to go VERY slowly. Is that what you meant, Sarah?