Monday, February 8, 2010

Dr. Olivia

Oh, this what an interesting first week working at FUDIS. Through a series of miscommunications, I was believed to be Dr. Olivia, the psychologist who specializes in cancer patients. Now, I may have been a psychology major in college, but I’m still a far cry from a licensed therapist. Unfortunately the patients at FUDIS didn’t realize this. In my first few days here I was approached for advice and counseling and urged to use the private medical office for my “meetings”. Gulp. I’m still working on setting the record straight with Ines, and have been brainstorming other activities and groups that I can lead without breaking every ethics code in the rule book. There’s such a need for more emotional outlets here – it was evident during Wednesday’s prayer hour how much pain and uncertainty the residents here are feeling. My goal during my time here is to alleviate some of that by adding more fun, distracting activities to the weekly program.

I’ve been going on walks with Amparo every morning, and on Thursday she pointed out that the US Embassy is only about two blocks away. The place is huge, taking up an entire city block, and looks like some sort of impenetrable fortress, complete with the stars and stripes flying from the top. How I didn’t notice this before, I don’t know. The wheels started turning when Amparo told me about shipments of cheddar cheese rumored to arrive every week – I am now devoted to making friends with at least one employee so that I can satisfy my craving for hard to find dairy products.

This weekend was a nice mix of both English and Spanish activities. I met up with several other volunteers and was relieved to hear that I wasn’t the only one who had an overwhelming first week. We saw a movie, enjoyed the most delicious Indian food I’ve ever tasted (sorry, Hampton Chutney!), and went out dancing. I also attended Sunday mass with Amparo and her husband and was very excited that I was able to understand the majority of the sermon. Little by little (or poco a poco I guess) my Spanish is improving, which feels like a huge accomplishment.

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