Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Overcoming Myself

Let me tell you about a girl. A tall girl, from the midwest, who wanted to do some good in the world. She showed up at the airport in Philadelphia on a hot and steamy morning. She hadn't slept for about a week and had just said good-bye to all of her friends and family. She had more bags than the airlines allow, but after years of traveling(mostly on her own) she has figured out how to work the system to get more stuff on the plane. The girl thinks to herself do I really want to move 10,000 miles away from everything I'm used to. The more tired she became the less of a good idea this whole, "Peace Corps" thing started to sound.She has been instructed to go to the University Sheraton. She has no idea where the shuttle she is suppose to catch is. She goes out to the shuttle area. Her arms are tired from carrying her hundreds of bags(okay maybe about four) and her back hurts from here giant North Face Bag being stuffed to the brim. There is only one other person out in the shuttle area. He is 6' foot has glasses on, generally average looking except... the except is the key part... he looks completely dishevaled. His bags are all marked with a Heavy stickers. She suspects that he is also a part of her new life. The boy and the girl look at each other ackwardly. Both suspecting, but neither one saying anything. They nod. They girl decides she'll ask, after all he is at the Sheraton Shuttle port. But, wait... what if he is just going to a Sheraton, not her Sheraton. "Ya, Going to the University Sheraton?" she asks. "yeah."Hmmmmm... same hotel but I don't want to look weird asking if he is Peace Corps if he isn't she thinks. They stand there silently. A Sheraton Shuttle comes up. The boy runs up to the shuttle asking if it goes to the University Sheraton. It doesn't. The shuttle that the boy and girl need is on the other side of the airport. The girl too exhausted to go on, realizes that she needs to do something she has never done. She needs one of those Granny Carts to put her luggage on. She asks the boy, still not knowing his name or if he is with Peace Corps to wait with her luggage, she has to get a cart. He patiently waits, clearly tired himself. When he sees her come up with a cart he grows envouis. He thinks of how he wants a cart. The boy then decideds that since he had to wait with this mystery girl's luggage she could wait with his luggage.They roll off together to the other side of the airport desperately trying to figure out where their desired mode of transportation is waiting for them. Still, no names. Minimal communication as to who they are and what they are doing. They eventually find their shuttle they put their bags into the back of the shuttle and partways. The boy going to the very front seat, while the girl takes the very back seat. Age, name, where they are from, what their purpose of going to the University Sheraton has never been disscussed. The shuttle takes off when a cool hipster girl comes out pleading for it to stop. It does, she is that cool. The girl in the back seat turns and looks at the hipster girl whose luggage is being put in right behind her. She thinks maybe she is with me. The hipster smiles at the ackward girl in the back seat. The hipster recognizes her the girl. The hipster gets in the shuttle moves to the very back seat and sits next to the girl. "Your the whoopie cushion. I'm so excited to meet you. I saw those pics and thought that is a cool girl. I'm Chris." She extends her hand out."Hi, yeah, I'm the whoopie Cushion, my name is Carol. And to be fair I thought other people would put pics up." Carol is refering to a chat site that was set up for the K-14s, where she thinking other people might follow suit put up pictures of herself. One of the pictures of her in a whoopie cushion costume. They shake hands.Carol and her new hipster friend Chris sit in the back talking about the stress of moving everything where they went to college, where they are from, how excited they were. All the "need to know stuff". The boy sits in the front, silent. The shuttle stops at many different Sheratons. Each time the three of them try to get out and the driver has to tell them to get back in, they stopped to drop off someone else. Eventually, when it is just the three of them left he stops at one last Sheraton, their Sheraton. They grab all their luggage and go in they all say they are checking in for the Peace Corps, even the boy. He says his name is Brandon, Carol remembers it wanting to be able to greet him by name later. They all go up to their respected rooms to relax and unwind before having to meet 60 more new people. Later Brandon and Hipster Chris get in the elevator together. They stand ackwardly in silence. The boy decides to make conversation, "There sure are a lot of Sheratons in this town." That was it, that was his big line. It didn't get a response. He was done. Carol didn't speak to anyone til she got in line in the Sheraton's basement later and heard an accent she recognized. The boy in front of her was from Detroit. They were able to talk Tigers Baseball for the next twenty minutes. Her nerves were relaxed, she knew she had at least one person she could talk to for the next couple of years.This story if you haven't figured out was my intro into the Peace Corps. Ackward, shy, confused and in general questioning my every decision. I get sworn in in two days. I will be a real volunteer and another leg of my story starts. I will be moving to a village where no one speaks English, and my job is to teach them. Now when I yell out, "The Twins Suck!" I have no one to turn around and say, "Hey, they are gaining on the Tigers!" and for someone else to nod at me and give me an approving wink. I have already spent months trying to over come my own weirdness, or as Brandon says(we did eventually talk and become friends) "Quirkiness". I don't have the benefit of my native language this time, to talk my way out of the hole I almost always dig when I first meet someone. Now is when why I came is really going to happen. The challenge, the work, the survival... all of it is truely begining now. But, I still have the memories of standing there not talking to Brandon to remind me that I got alot to over come... mainly overcoming myself and the barriers I create in my mind.