Jo Anne and Michelle with mural

When asked what I am thankful about in my service, one of my first thoughts goes to my site mate, whom I was lucky enough to overlap with for five months. Jo Anne Cohn is a whirlwind of energy, friendliness, and positivity. She introduced me to San Jacinto and many amazing people and friends in our pueblo. As the first volunteer in San Jacinto, Jo Anne got everyone ready for having gringas in the pueblo. By the time I arrived, people were excited to meet the new volunteer, but I was not a brand new oddity in the way that Jo Anne had been.

“No es el fin de mundo.”

This is Jo Anne’s motto. There are a lot of ups and downs throughout service as a Peace Corps volunteer and at times the downs can be way down. Jo Anne’s downs would cause her to share, reflect, allow herself alone time, and bounce back with the understanding that there are bigger problems in the world and the problem will actually work out. My downs were met with listening, reflecting, and reminding me how silly it is that we are still surprised when mishaps are repeated. Ultimately, the next day, it all starts new.

I have heard from some returned Peace Corps volunteers that one of the most important things they took away from their service were the relationships they built in their communities and with their fellow volunteers. Jo Anne connected people and it was plain to see the strength in those relationships as she prepared to complete her service. While it is sad to not have Jo Anne in the pueblo, I am glad we had the time we did, and I am excited to see the connections she made grow. After all, “no es el fin de mundo.”

Jo Anne with San Jacinto friends

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