Stilted Jokers?! The Struggle is Real.

Friday, I have been invited to an Education Park opening. There have been four opened already, but the government allegedly plans to open something like 60 in order to increase access to education and to create a sense of community ownership and pride. It seems like a great idea…

My organization is invited because we might have the opportunity to conduct performance measurement for the parks. This is definitely exciting. The bus ride is quite long, and extremely bumpy. I can’t even sit all the way back in my chair because the friction of my hair on the seat from all the bumps will for sure give me dreadlocks.

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The day is full of both work and Colombian surprises. The town has planned an entire theatrical show to display their culture and excitement for the new center. It is blistering hot and in true Colombian fashion, I buy a sombrero to keep the sun off my head. We are corralled through the hills of the town behind a parade of stilted jokers, until we reach the center. The governor does the honors of cutting the ribbon and we are immediately brought on a tour of the library, computer room, coffee shop, craft areas and beautiful outdoor spaces.

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The center is really nice and the town seems pretty happy about it. I truly hope it improves things for them in terms of community, access to education, encouragement to stay in school, etc. I’m still shocked to know that two-thirds of Colombians don’t stay in school longer than 6 years. Colombia seems to be trying to remedy the problem of access to education in these rural hill towns, but what about incentives for staying in school?

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We are brought to lunch and I’m given this bread type omelet thing with more mystery meat body parts in it than I would ever like. Ever. I refuse. I will count on snagging another breakfast box. The bus ride home is dreadful and I actually really bruised my chin and elbow after coming down so hard after a “bump.” I just need quiet time after all this.

Still stressing about work when I get home, I end up admitting defeat and volunteering myself off the amazingly technical and complicated data project. I just don’t feel like my bosses have time to teach me the things I need in order to do the work and I can’t exactly call my advisor in Waltham every time I need help. Feeling immediately relieved, I crawl into bed for that much needed quiet time.

I wake up to a slew of texts about going out for a colleague’s last night in town, so I quickly get ready. The night is filled with meeting new people, wine, tequila and aquardiente (literally translates to water fire). I will regret this tomorrow.

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