Angelica is a Practical English for Success (PES) volunteer serving in a pueblo in Magdalena, Colombia.
- Ask yourself what has changed? What do you think caused yourself to feel this way?
- Do the research. What have other people done with similar problems?
- Try until something works.
For me, I noticed that my self-confidence took a dip after my appearance began to change. Eating empanadas, rice and ice cream just to stay cool was affecting my weight. I noticed my stomach protruding, face getting fuller, and of course, that I was spilling out of my bathing suit. I even began to have severe acne breakouts all over my face. It didn’t dawn on me what was going on until I took some time to think.
After that, I started to research ways on how to lose weight and improve acne. So, I decided to make a change: I would watch what I ate. It was difficult. Being that ‘snob’ who declines the deditos and chorizo at the birthday parties was annoying. But I knew that I had to put in the discipline in order to reap the benefits.
After several months of monitoring my food, my weight began to drop. Also, I learned that using lukewarm water to clean my face was all that I needed. The breakouts disappeared within a month after trying this technique. It was as if one day I woke up and I was back to my normal self. I felt like ‘me’ again. Regaining my confidence helped refocus my service.
It had been a foreign experience in a foreign place — weight gain and acne were things that I never had to deal with while growing up. Throughout middle and high school, I was very active in track and field, as well as volleyball. Once I entered college, I continued to run so that the ‘freshmen 15’ never hit me.
However, having to deal with these issues in a new environment while being away from home was difficult. I didn’t have family members to help me stay away from bad food. Instead I had people who looked at my veggies and protein with dismay. But the hard work paid off and eventually led to people within my community congratulating and praising me for such a job well done. The same people who gave me the weird looks became the ones who started to drink their juice with less sugar. Even though my weight has been a difficult struggle in Colombia, the issue itself has actually fostered the sort of intercultural exchange that Peace Corps wants. I’ve been humbled by the process and I’m glad that I could help a few Costeños understand another approach to health and fitness.