My third week has finished up and I’m starting up my fourth here. By Thursday I’ll have completed a month here in La Carpio.
In just this short month I already have enough “stories” and crazy adventures to write a book. In the first month pops gets kicked out of the house on father’s day and moves back within a few days, there’s shooting in front of my house related to the major gang conflict, the kids do their mid-term exams for their short break, and the government launches a full-blown operative 7 months in the planning on the delinquents on our block.
Most recently I’ve felt really disillusioned about my role here. I don’t feel I’m doing anything useful or helpful. I wish I knew what to do. I wish I knew how to “fix” the social problems I see and the looming pitfalls for the kids in the family approaching the 15-year mark in their lives. I wish I was documenting some profound anthropological insights that would be useful to others in the future. I wish I was making some headway on my practicum. I wish I was recording some of the conversation and fun times we’re having in a lighter sense, like the Amazing Grace book. I wish I was compiling all these things in a journal more in a more orderly manner. I wish I had these things published more regularly on-line.
I’m doubting that I’m doing anything “worthwhile” here. I feel I’m just taking up space. I feel like just “being” here is not enough. I wish I’d planned some things ahead of time. I wish I’d brought some sort of plan for making things better.
Or do I? That was part of the plan. It is weird being here without any task or burden of “fixing” things. It’s a whole different approach, I feel. To be living here, sleeping here, and going into the office during the day to work. It’s weird having La Carpio be the life you come back to in the evenings, rather than what you go to during the day, and come back from. Well… weird isn’t the word for it. It’s nice, actually. It feels so much more normal. A lot of things feel “normal”, actually, that I never thought would.
It bothers me, though, how normal those things feel. How at the end of the day during the operativo we all come back with stories about how we got searched or turned around by masked OIJ agents, but there was nothing we could do. Most of all, it angers me that kids on the way to school get turned around. People outside La Carpio assure me it’s because the kids are probably selling drugs, and even the good ones get roped in with the bad. But if they’ve been searched… they aren’t carrying drugs, and just because they have ID doesn’t mean they aren’t carrying something. It’s hard for me to imagine a fair justification for it. But, like everyone else at the time, I shrug my shoulders… what could we do?
I am wondering if this practicum deal is really the best thing I can take out of this experience. I consider, for example, what I could write in a more informal, narrative style. I consider that I could be shooting video and making a documentary, interviewing people on video and making something more people would watch and enjoy. Well, it is what it is, I suppose. And I may be able to do some good writing. I hope and pray that I can. That is really what I feel drawn toward that I just can’t seem to execute on.
So anyway, that’s where I’m at, 3 weeks in.