I got an email the other day regarding my pictures saying that it certainly looks like I am having the time of my life. Certain days, certain moments, I suppose this is true. However, it gave me pause and made me wonder if I am portraying the wrong things to friends and family in the states. Also, it made me look at what I’m doing here. I’m not here to have the time of my life. Belize is not a two year vacation for me. I wear a black ring on my right hand made from a tree in Brazil. This ring was given to me (and the other JVs) by a priest in Punta Gorda. He gave it to us, not with the expectation that we would wear it, but with the hope that when (if) we did wear it, it would serve as a constant reminder of our thoughts and actions. You see, this ring symbolizes ‘solidarity with the poor.’ I am only supposed to wear this ring if I feel that I am choosing to be in solidarity with the poor. Does having a conversation with a mother who’s child is on the run because he murdered a man mean that I am in solidarity with the poor? Does sitting in my big cement house listening to gunshots indicating the string of violence lately but doing nothing about that violence mean I am solidarity? Does going ‘without’ when I have the choice mean that I am solidarity with those who go ‘without’ because they have no choice? I don’t know these answers. But I wear my ring. I wear it when I am sitting with someone talking about how she might be able to find food for her children tomorrow but I also wear it when I go to the caye. I don’t want to not play football and go to Cayo for a game, but I don’t want to not be in solidarity or forget the reasons I chose to be here. Can I do both? Lots of questions.
I think I’m not too good at expressing my ‘real life’ here. I have resigned myself to allowing others to think my Belize life is similar to so many others’ Belize vacations. I welcome questions about my job, my neighbors, my journey so as to have a better starting point for stories or explanations.
I am thankful for moments like that, a two line email or a flippant comment, that give me pause, that make me think about my time here, that make me actively choose to wear my ring.