Yosili is a Practical English for Success (PES) serving in a pueblo in Bolívar, Colombia.
Joining the Peace Corps is a dream come true. Being in Colombia, is the cherry on top. La gente bella, comida exquisita, música alegre, colorido y mucha felicidad en cada rinconcito de su hermosa tierra.
Pero qué pasa when your dreams are in the palm of your hand and you still can’t enjoy it?
“Tenemos gringa nueva en el pueblo,” they all whisper, loud enough for me to hear the great news.
Mi piel oscura, pelo rojizo, y ojos marrones les impide ver que yo soy la “gringa” they have all been waiting for.
Once again, my identity is being questioned. My nationality needs to be proven.
Maybe if I say, “excuse me” or “thank you” they will realize it’s me and shout with excitement and fill me up with hugs.
But they can’t hear me. They are too busy looking for the tall, blonde and blue-eyed girl.
I speak a little louder and introduce myself but I forgot to mention the key phrase: I’m from New York.
Lost in my own thoughts, I wait for someone to rescue me, for someone to come and say, “This is our gringa!” After waiting for what seemed to be a very long time, here he comes. He introduces me as the “Americana” they have all been waiting for.
Immediately everyone’s eyes are on me. Some are excited to finally meet me. “Di algo en inglés para ver” some of them say. Others just look at me in disbelief.
All I can say is “Hello, my name is Yosili.” Everyone’s jaw drops. “Si habla inglés,” dicen muchos. The expression on their faces throws me off. I don’t understand, are they happy or upset? ¿Será que no soy la gringa que tanto querían?
Los Estados Unidos es tan diverso, diferentes culturas e idiomas. En el planeta tierra tiene su propio universo. I tell myself loud enough, just for me to hear.
A lo mejor no soy lo que esperaban, pero soy lo que necesitan. Y mientras haya fuerzas, I will do my best to get my community where they need to be. Lo bueno is not always easy.
Everyday things get better! We needed time. We just needed to get to know each other. Now I see the excitement on their faces and everyone wants to know a little bit about New York.
Slowly, we are learning el uno del otro de las tradiciones y culturas que han sido tejidas en nuestras vidas. Y siempre les recuerdo que cuando emprenda mi viaje de regreso a casa I will take their stories y las compartiré con mi gente.