Monday, November 6, 2006

Nov. 6, 2006

If you think of the word diversity, there are many things that may come to mind. Some may think of diversity in terms of race, some may think religion, while others may think of it in terms of topography, dialect, weather or otherwise. This variety, this melody, this potpourri of diversification is something that can be seen as you live, work, move and travel throughout Guyana .
Many times throughout my time here I have been confronted by local people curious about where I am from. When I say that I am from the US and the state of Wisconsin , it is not uncommon for the response to ask which part of New York that is (as many who have family who have migrated are located there). What then typically follows is a brief explanation about how the US is a large and diverse place in terms of what the temperature is like, the people, the land, etc. It is a reminder to me that the US is a big place and the diversity is spread across the 50 states. When I think of Guyana and its diversity, I am really blown away at the range of this variation for the shear fact that it is a country roughly the size of Minnesota (at 83,000 sq. miles). The topography is just one example. It can vary from dry, arid and mountainous, to thick rainforest with humidity you feel you are swimming through and yet other areas of rolling sandy hills, or miles upon miles of sugarcane or rice fields. Much the same can be said about the races, religions and daily practices of travel, work and resources that are prominent in an area. In a country so small, the diversity is one of most unique qualities that brings “a new twist” around every corner.
I am reminded of this largely because of the major changes that have taken place upon my return to Guyana . The first one, of course, is the fact that I am here with my partner, my fellow adventurer…my husband. Where once we lived and worked as singles in different parts of the country, we are now one. Where before I was living and working as a Peace Corps health volunteer (at a local standard of living), I am now employed by the ELCA Global Missions Unit as the Director/Administrator of the Lutheran Camp & Retreat Centre. My location has changed to those rolling, sandy, hills in the breezeless and HOT Linden , to the Skeldon/Corriverton area at the mouth of the Atlantic , on the Corentyne River bordering Suriname …with a whole lot of breeze!!! And not unlike what I previously mentioned, Skeldon’s dominant race, religions, resources, topography and culture are different than my previous 26 months in Linden . This was also recently affirmed by some of my local friends from Linden who made the long trip up for a visit noting how very different it was from where I was living previously.
Although this melody of diversity is something so prominent in Guyana , there is one thing that sticks out through and through that remains the same. The people and their smiles, generosity and relationship minded attitude is unmatched by anything. I feel that it is such a blessed gift feel so welcomed as family when we are so far away from our own.
All my very best is extended to you today with peace and blessings!
Love, Kristen