Reflection: 2 Weeks Living in St Lucia & Peace Corps Training

Reflection: 2 Weeks Living in St Lucia & Peace Corps Training

First off, I’d like to thank everyone who has reached out to me, wished me well, celebrated with me, helped me pack, and has been rooting for while on this journey. I already knew my family and friends were special, but now I’m blown away by how beautiful, deep, and loving all the relationships in my life are. So thank you again and be sure to follow along the Doer’s Diary on IG!

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On July 2nd, I picked up my life along with 39 other volunteers to move to St. Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean (Grenada, St. Vincent, and Dominica) for the next 27 months. I’m currently in phase one of training for 4 weeks in Babonneau, St. Lucia to become a Primary English Literacy Specialist Volunteer with the Peace Corps to focus on promoting literacy in primary/infant schools. On August 2nd, I will find out what island I’ll be living on for the next two years and that’s where I’ll be for phase 2 and 3 of my training before being sworn in in October. I’ll spend the reminder of my service working at the same school for two years and during that time, I’ll focus on integrating with the community, making lifelong connections, and working with fellow teachers and kiddos from grades 1-3. 

For more information on the volunteers and programs in the Eastern Caribbean!

After weeks of packing up my townhouse, moving 95% of my belonging into a storage unit, and the other 5% in to my mom and stepdad’s house, leaving for the Peace Corps was upon us. I had to fit everything I could possibly need (and then some) into 2 suitcases with a max weight limit of 50 lbs each and one carry on. Let me tell you, that carry was a hiking backpack that weighed as much as I do. The backpack I used was a god-sent, and a best seller on amazon. So check it out, fellow travelers.  

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Packing in and of itself was consuming, and I am currently working on a packing guide once I get settled into the island I’ll be serving on, so I save future volunteers from packing too much or not enough.

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After my first three days of orientation on the island, all the trainees left the comfort of each other’s presence to move into our host family’s homes.

This is where the real fun began. You know the saying: “growth only occurs outside of your comfort zone,” whoever said that definitely knew what they were talking about.

The embrace and instant love I felt from my host mom made me feel so welcomed in a new environment. I quickly jumped into learning about my surroundings— exploring her extensive garden filled with pineapples, limes, lemons, cashews, Chinese cabbage, coconuts, plantains and the list goes on, learning a new language, adapting to new norms, and being on a whole new level of integration into a culture I could have only dreamed of. My heart is filled with so much gratitude for my host mom opening her home to me, and the people of St. Lucia for being so welcoming and kind as I ask a million questions and learn as much as I can. 

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Once I moved into my host family’s beautiful home in Babboneau, I struggled for a few days— feeling the loss of all the things and people I had been comforted by in my typical days back in the states. I cried, I shed my walls, and saw a newer, more open and vulnerable side of myself that I was willing to share with other trainees, my host mom, and my family back home. I began to realize how important this time was— I had shed my ego and left my masks to hide who I truly am back home. It’s been so humbling to just be me, and that’s enough. 

I am not immune to the desire for consistency and normalcy, but I have felt a lightness in my heart that has allowed me to be fully present and loving.

Day by day, I learn how we are all more alike than different, and how loving one another is our most powerful tool.

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Our first week of training flew by so quickly, with amble information on culture, diversity, inclusion, medical procedures, consolidation routes, hurricane tips, and so forth. My head could spin looking back at all my notes, but I’ve learned more about my role in development and leaving judgements at the door. Hearing the point of views from fellow trainees and staff has been such an eye-opening experience, to be more receptive and transparent in my endeavor to inspire and connect with others. I have been able to make so many wonderful friendships that are already starting to blossom, so for now, I’m living each day to the fullest and on Monday, I’ll be hiking with all my friends to the Sulphur Springs in St Lucia, the Gros Piton which is the world’s only drive-in volcano. So stay tuned for a packing guide for Peace Corps EC and Hiking Guides. . .

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I made it on local news in St Lucia where Peace Corps Volunteer share their stories!

Please feel free to reach out, ask questions, and connect. Thanks for being a Doer and enjoy one of my favorite quotes!

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With Love: The Reflection You Asked For

With Love: The Reflection You Asked For

I am human.

I am flawed, imperfect, and ultimately vulnerable.

The other day, you commented on my blog hurtful and mean accusations and considerations about your perception of me. You labeled me a bad person, but you did so anonymously without a way to answer back thoughtfully. 

So here is my response:

When I post on social media and connect through social channels, I choose bits and pieces to highlight, but my blog is something I hold near and dear to my heart. I pour my spirit into my words. I am aware that I have hurt people in the past and I have been hurt in return, but the reality is, love and appreciation for life are at the center of my decisions. I value myself, I value my soul and practice self-love. This life is very short filled with uncertainty and it’s fair share of goodbyes and quite frankly, there is no room for hatred in my life and I do not owe anyone an explanation for what I deem right. 

My heart radiates with love and because of that, I have such beautiful connections in my life. I have friends and family who know my essence, my heart, my love and they understand me in ways you did not. I apologize that not everyone can see the true me, that sometimes the surface is all you get, but I get to choose and that does not make me a bad person. It’s all about your perception.   

I am allowed to make decisions that value my wishes and needs and I do have considerations for others, but I refuse to tear off pieces of myself to appease anyone else.

It’s not that I voice my actions or feelings to justify my doings. I do so to let others know they are not alone— sometimes we need to cut toxic people out, sometimes we need to escape, sometimes we need to be alone, sometimes words are not needed and that’s OKAY.

I have always struggled with goodbyes and sometimes I feel as though saying nothing at all is easier— that doesn’t mean it’s right. I’m flawed, but conscious of my desire to change to be more transparent. 

You have absolutely no idea what is going on in someone else’s head. You have no idea the internal struggles someone has, and I’m sure you are fighting your own demons, gracefully I hope. I don’t write for self-justification– I write to feel, share, connect, understand, learn, grow. I am a work in progress, who is learning and evolving from experiences and new connections. This is a life blog! I am living and LEARNING. I take responsibility for the lessons I’ve learned the hard way  as I do not consider them mistakes. I am exactly where I’m meant to be. Some things aren’t that deep and others are, and sometimes people aren’t on the same page. 

If I’ve hurt you, tell me. If I’ve offended you, tell me. If I’ve left you wondering, tell me. I am not a mind reader, and have a million and ten things on my plate and on my mind that sometimes things slip through the cracks. I am sorry that our connect may have slipped through the cracks. 

So here’s what I suggest— 

  • if you have a problem with someone or don’t like/agree with what they are saying, unfriend, block, delete them. It’s okay to move on. 
  • if you have a problem with someone or don’t like/agree with what they are saying, message them…… VOICE your concerns, voice your perception. Be human— nobody’s perfect. 

We were created to communicate, to connect, but that’s impossible when it’s through an anonymous outlet. My messages are always open. 

With love, 

Ash 

A Whole Lot Of Optimism And Faith

A Whole Lot Of Optimism And Faith

I know something great is coming because I believe God is putting battles and obstacles in my life, so I can appreciate my life, my future accomplishments, and the relationships with my loved ones even more. Everything in my being tells me something big is in the works, and when I finally let go of other’s burdens and let go of my own resentment and pain, my energy can go towards the life of my dreams. Recently, life hasn’t been a walk in the park, like I had planned, but somehow, everything is working out exactly the way I need it to.

Although it’s not turning out picture perfect, I know I needed to experience the pitfalls to get to where I am now.

I guess there is a way you want things turn out, and there is a way you actually need them to, even if you don’t see it at the time; sometimes you need a win and sometimes you need to learn a lesson and use that to make better decisions for yourself in the future.

Things aren’t always going to turn out the way you thought, but life’s about figuring out how to make things work when everything seems to be falling through. I’ve learned lately and many of you can probably relate to the fact, we can’t control other’s actions or the way they treat us, and we definitely can’t control who loves us and who wants to be in our lives, but we can make conscious decisions to value ourselves, our needs and not be content with being in environments that don’t support us.

With every failed relationship, marriage, friendship, and opportunity, it’s best to focus on what you’ve learned from it and how it’s going to better you, and with that mindset, you are free and no longer have to carry around burden of another ending.

You have a choice: you can either play victim and act as if life is crumbling when your plans are interrupted or you can embrace the change coming and use that transition time to rebuild and become the person you want to be. It’s all up to you, but I promise when you let go of resenting change and open up your heart up to all the possibilities, your life will be hundred times better.

I am so thankful for the hardships I’ve endured recently because it teaches me to be flexible, receptive to the environment around me, and enjoy life, even when it seems to be beating me down.

Life is too short to be unhappy, but your happiness is a choice and you get to make that choice for every situation, no matter how heartbreaking it may be.

Optimism is your door way into your next big endeavor. You must believe that when one door closes, two more are going to open up for, and it’s imperative you take the leap and have faith into your next journey because what is to come is greater than anything you are leaving behind.

I’m not sure what’s next or what’s coming, but I have heard many times, “God laughs when you make plans.” so I trust that something monumental is upon me and I’m ready for the adventure ahead.