Yesterday I was putting together exit interviews for our volunteers. While I was doing research I stumbled upon some awesome lists with great questions and even better answers. It got me thinking, so permit me a mid-internship self interview.
Project Assignment: Year-long internship with Valpo Surf Project
Responsibilities: Mentor, Surf Instructor, English teacher, Volunteer Coordinator, Environmental Coordinator, part-time jungle gym, and maker of beach sandwiches.
If your time here was a story what would it be called: “Tiny Adventures and Minor Inconveniences”
Most useful thing brought into the country: Probably my backpack, the thing is a tank and I take it everywhere
Least useful thing: Heels and a black club dress, I don’t know what I was thinking, I live in flannels and my chucks 99% of the time.
I feel most integrated into Chilean culture when; I use the word “po” or “weon” correctly in a sentence (click here to discover the subtle nuances of “po” usage).
My favorite Chilenismo (chilean slang word): Cachai? Got it? Comes from the word to catch in English.
Most memorable injury: Being swept off of a bunch of very sharp rocks by my longboard wielding Chilean boss (the same board as my last post). We were at a break that has kind of a complicated process to come in from the water, the tide came in, took him out and he took me down with him. Meanwhile, my friend Kelly watched us helplessly out in the water as we bounced off of rocks like ping-pong balls trying to get our footing, my American boss Wiley shouting directions from above. I don’t think my shins have ever been that purple in my life, and I’m still not quite sure that either Claudio’s or my feet have recovered.
Most Chilean habit: My accent in my Spanish, I honestly don’t think I’ll ever shake it. I’ve tried. Putting an “s” at the end of words will never happen again, nor will I acknowledge a that there is a letter “d” in the middle of a word. It’s not good enough to be perfectly Chilean, but there’s no way it’ll ever be anything else either.
Songs that will remind me of this year: So far “Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac is running in first place
Three come to mind;
1) When the button on the micro was broken and I had to two finger whistle to the driver to let me off at my stop. The fact that I managed to get a whistle out at all while maintaining stability was the coolest part.
2) Last week when a kid said “qué fome” how lame, when I told him class was over, and proceeded to tell me that he’d never wanted to stay in a class longer before. Cue the teacher in me dying of excitement.
3) Every time I stand up on a surf board, albeit in whitewater on a bright orange soft top, I still feel awesome.
Most beautiful place visited this time around: Punta de Lobos, but Valpo across the water at night is one of my favorite views in the world.
Books and podcasts that I’ve read/ listened to:
The VSP house is seriously on the podcast game, my favorites include: Ta Falado, (a podcast for learning Portuguese for Spanish speakers) and Invisibilia.
I’ve been reading on and off, currently I’m into Sweetness and Blood, it’s awesome so far and I’m learning a lot about surf history.
What will I miss when I leave: Speaking in a combination of English, Spanish, Chilean Slang, and made up words in the office. Surfing whenever I want (mostly). Early wake ups and playing pranks on my co-workers. My friends and my kids, walking everywhere, Cachitos, living close to the sea, the view from my bedroom window.
What WON’T I miss: Cold hands, adobe walls, things being closed on Sundays, things being closed for no reason, mice.
How have I changed since being here/ what have I learned:
I learned that I love doing things alone, like walking or going to a park. That tea in the morning can be a life saver, and being in the ocean often is necessary to my mental health. That in certain moments my kids can make me want to explode with frustration, but also simultaneously with love, and the only acceptable reaction in those moments is to laugh. I’ve realized that just because I have a routine doesn’t mean my life is boring, in fact a routine with simple pleasures is great, like snack and caffeine breaks at work, surf sessions, and chess games at night.
What’s next: I kept this in here although I really have no idea, I’ve got a hundred different possibilities bouncing around at the moment. Right now I’m having a blast, I’m working a ton, surfing a lot, having deep and silly conversations with people who make me happy, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Peace, love, and tiny adventures