Unexpected Changes

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Our intrepid Peace Corps volunteer has had his life turned upside down in the last week. He will now cease to refer to himself in the third person. Following a security incident in which I was assaulted in my house, Peace Corps has decided that it is no longer safe for me to continue working and living on the island of Ometepe. That’s quite a sentence to absorb for those of you hearing this for the first time and it has taken me some time to wrap my head around it as well. Here is a brief description of the assault that I’ve written to share with friends and family:

Just after midnight on Friday, April 13th, I was woken by a pounding on my door and, immediately upon opening it, was assaulted by a mid-40s American I knew. He is my best friend’s boyfriend and we had been friends before this. He had told me previously that he trusted that nothing was going on between his girlfriend and I, but right now he was drunk and disturbed. He punched me in the head and face three times, giving me a bloody nose but nothing worse, before I wrestled him to the ground and held him there. He accused me of getting too close to his girlfriend and told me that he wanted me off the island and out of his life. I assured him that I’d be gone faster than that, knowing the reaction that Peace Corps would have to the incident. I eventually let him up after he told me that he would leave, but as he began to get up and come towards me again, I shut the door to my house. He kicked the door hard enough to rip the lock out, and my door swung open. I was able to get past him and go across the street to a neighbor’s, where I was given a towel and helped to clean up while he kept yelling that I had better not mess with him and that I needed to leave within two weeks. He eventually left on his motorcycle, but returned two or three more times to reiterate his points. Once my neighbors began helping me, though, he didn’t approach me again. I called the Peace Corps safety and security officer immediately and he instructed me to stay with a trusted neighbor and leave on the first bus. Needless to say, it was an incredibly traumatic experience, but one that ended relatively well and I’m thankful to have the support of my neighbors, my community, friends and family, and especially all the Peace Corps staff.

Since then the boyfriend has apologized profusely and wants to make things right, but Peace Corps cannot take the threat made against me and the evidence of his mental instability lightly and has decided that I will not return to live and work on the island. It is not the decision that I would have made, but it’s somewhat of a relief to have it decided and I recognize that they are acting in my best interest. I’m physically fine and seem to be mentally and emotionally okay, though I’ll likely still struggle with some intermittent anxiety for a while. It’s really frustrating to feel like all the relationships I built over nearly a year and a half can be uprooted by a 30 minute waking nightmare, but the reality of the situation is such that I will have to start again in a new site. As I make peace with my new circumstances I am excited about the challenges and opportunities ahead of me. I get the excitement of a new place and new people, but with the experience and knowledge that I’ve gained over the last year and a half to guide me. I have seven months remaining in my service and hope to be useful to Peace Corps, other volunteers, and to my community.

In the meantime I have been staying in a nice hotel in Managua and feeling supremely cared for. As relates to this blog, I feel like this post will be a demarcating point after which my posts will resemble a new volunteers’ more than one who is finishing their service, but I have a number of posts that I wrote weeks ago that I have been neglecting to share. For the next week or so I will post these posts, though they represent my world pre-April 13th. First up is a new photo album of pictures from the last six months or so. I also have a post that I wrote about the education system here and one of the biggest problems that I have been observing: insufficient and inconsistent time spent in the classroom with students. I cannot post it publicly because of the delicate political situation that Peace Corps is in, but I am happy to share it with individuals who are interested. Just send me an email indicating your interest or comment on the bottom of this post: andrew.boddyspargo@gmail.com

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rebekkah on April 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Andrew– I feel so, so sad to hear about this incident. You have worked so hard to build the trust and relationships you have with people at your site, and I am so sorry you will be moved so quickly. I hate that this happened to you, but the strength in your reaction is as moving and impressive as the way your have approached your whole experience. You are very loved– please keep us posted. -Rebekkah

    Reply

  2. Posted by Elaine Stecker-Kochanski on April 21, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Andrew What a terrible thing to go through. Joe and I are glad you are safe and have other opportunities. Elaine Stecker-Kochanski

    Reply

  3. Posted by Debra Lawsing on April 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Pretty scary Andrew. I’m glad you have people looking after you but sad that you have to move after you’ve worked so hard to settle in. Take care of yourself and let us know where you’re headed to next.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Cassie on April 21, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Wow Andrew! I am so happy to hear you are okay. Be safe and keep in touch.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Dad on April 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Perfect illustration, sweetie! 🙂 😦 Mom

    Reply

  6. Posted by Allie on April 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I am really bummed to hear that this happened, but thankful that you are ok. As usual, your positivity and maturity are very evident as you prepare for this big transition. I hope your new site and the people there are good to you for your last 7 months. Enjoy the hotel and I will be eagerly awaiting updates. Big hugs! – Allie

    Reply

  7. so happy you’re ok,sorry about the unpleasant person..hope you’re keeping safe…..you’re quite a trooper in your quest for helping and learning….be safe in your travels ..

    Reply

  8. Posted by Mary C on April 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Andrew- I’m sorry to hear such a horrible thing happened to you. I continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers and I’m sure this will lead to some greater good. Abrazos y mas abrazos- Mary

    Reply

  9. so sorry to hear about your experience 😦 I’m glad you’re ok! Good luck in th enext stage of your life, I’m sure you will be an even greater success!

    Reply

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