Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Staying strong

Todays marks 216 days since I came with Peace Corps to serve in Nicaragua, seven months in this beautiful country and surrounded by amazing people. My last post was April 13, that post I talked about posting more frequently but that hasn't happened but I'm here giving an update to whoever wants to read it and thank you for that.

Two weeks ago I had the worst week in my service after hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico and kept me uncommunicated with my family for around a week without knowing whether they were well and safe. All communications in the island collapsed; internet, telephone lines and cell phone antennas. I can't explain the feelings I felt those days watching videos of the devastation and asking myself constantly, is my family ok? Every time I went to facebook I watched many friends and family in U.S. asking the same question. After six days, my father received a phone call giving him the news that my family was doing well, I felt some kind of relief but still wanted to hear their voice. Next day my sister got cell phone signal and send me the best voice message telling me they were well. 

During that week I can't count how much support I received/felt from people here in Nicaragua, Peace Corps family and friends back in the states. I'm grateful for having those people in my life. Now, my beloved country needs help. I am blessed to have my family well but there are other fellow puertorricans that still don't know about their families(yes, after two weeks). There are a lot of families that lost everything that needs your help, I'm not asking you donate money but to spread the voice about what is happening over there. We don't want everything done like someone mentioned in twitter, we want the same treatment that any other U.S. citizen receives. We pay taxes, social security, Medicare and we serve in the army, it isn't that we are asking for something that we don't deserve.

"The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

My biggest influence

From giving birth to me and watching me almost every night making sure I was breathing during 3 consecutive months, I don't know where I would be if she hadn't been around all these years.
If there is a turning point in my life, it should be when I was two years old and I spent three months in intensive care. During that period I suffered an intestine obstruction, kidney and respiratory failure, appendicitis and I literally was artificially resuscitated. Imagine my parents going through all those experiences in just three months. After I got recovered and went out from the hospital, nothing was easy, especially for my mom. I had some post-traumatic issues, I barely talk, very shy kid and had some learning problems.

I don't remember so much about my stay at the hospital, almost all my memories come from my rehabilitation process but I always remember something and the most important, my mom was there every time. She always pushed myself to give more, she believed in me even when the doctors told her I wasn't going to survive, she pushed me to be that normal kid that other people told her I wasn't going to be, she has been always there no matter what and although these days we have had difficult times, I am who I am because the values she inherited deeply in my heart. Compassion, empathy, respect to others especially to women and seniors, honesty, humility were some of the values she always taught me.

I didn't think a lot of all these things til I began to analyze myself and began to ask me, How I became the person I am? Why did I join Peace Corps? The responses to these questions are directly and indirectly related to my mom and how she raised me. Joining Peace Corps was my decision and it will help with the career I want to develop but I can't hide that my mom's stories about her experiences in Ecuador had a big influence. Peace Corps will give me a wide range of opportunities to develop even more some skills like cultural awareness, project management, business development and of course make lifetime friends while at the same time I am honoring my mom doing my service and giving back two years of service to the institution that made my life possible (my mother met my father doing her service in Ecuador). There are more reasons why I joined Peace Corps but I would have to write a lot more. We have people around us that make a difference and have had an important influence in our life, I have had a lot of people, including my mom and dad, and I won't get tired of telling to all of them, THANK YOU.



De haberme dado a luz, a observarme respirar casi todas las noches durante tres meses consecutivos, yo no sé que hubiese sido de mi durante esos años de no haber recibido la atención que me dio mi madrel. Si hay un punto decisivo en mi vida debería ser cuando tenia 2 años y pase tres meses en cuidado intensivos. Durante ese periodo sufrí de obstrucción instestinal, paro respiratorio y renal, ápendice y fui resucitado artificialmente. Imaginen a mis padres pasar por todo esto en solo tres meses. Después que me recupere y salí del hospital nada fue fácil especialmente para mi madre. Tuve serios problemas-traumas post operaciones, casi no hablaba, era bien tímido y tenía problemas de aprendizaje.

No recuerdo mucho de mi estadía en el hospital, casi todos mis recuerdos provienen de mi proceso de rehabilitación, pero hay algo importante que recuerdo y claramante, mi madre siempre estuvo a mi lado. Incluso guardo recuerdos invaluables sobre esa etapa. Mi madre siempre me empujo a dar más de mi mismo, ella creyó en mi cuando inclusive cuando los doctores le dijeron que no iba a sobrevivir, ella me empujo a ser ese niño normal que siempre le decían no iba a poder ser, ella siempre ha estado para mi sin importar nada y aunque en estos dias hemos tenido tiempos dificiles en nuestra relación, soy quién soy gracias a los valores que inculcó muy profundamente en mi corazon. Compasión, empatía, respeto hacia los demás, especialmente a personas mayores y mujeres, honestidad y humildad, son  algunos de los valores que ella siempre me enseño.

No había pensado mucho acerca de estas cosas hasta hace poco cuando empece a autoanalizarme y preguntarme, ¿Como me convertí en la persona que soy hoy día? ¿Por qué me uní a Cuerpo de Paz? Las respuestas a estas preguntas estan directa e indirectamente relacionadas a mi madre y como ella me crió. Unirme a Cuerpo de Paz fue mi decisión y esta oportunidad me ayudará en la carrera que quiero desarrollar, pero no puedo esconder que las historias de mi madre sobre su experiencias en Cuerpo de Paz-Ecuador tuvieron mucha influencia. Cuerpo de Paz me va a brindar un amplio rango de oportunidades para desarrollar aún mas mis habilidades en conciencia cultural, manejo de proyectos, desarrollo de negocios y sobre todo voy desarrollar relaciones que durarán toda la vida. A la vez estoy honrando a mi madre haciendo mi servicio durante estos dos años y también sirvo a la organización que hizo posible mi vida(mi madre conocio a mi padre durante su servicio en Ecuador). Hay mas razones por las que me uní a Cuerpo de Paz pero tendría que escribir mucho más. Nosotros siempre tenemos personas a nuestro alrededor que hacen una diferencia y han tenido una influencia importante en nuestras vidas, he tenido muchas incluyendo mi madre y padre, entre otros, y nunca me cansaré de decirle, GRACIAS.

Gracias Madre!

I was shy but my little sister always suffered my mischievousness
Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, child and indoor

At the bottom, Chimborazo Volcano. My little sister is not in this pic.
Image may contain: 1 person, standing, outdoor and nature

"The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps."

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

To all my fellow PC friends

To my fellow Peace Corps friends,

I know you have heard me talking about my experience with AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps a lot but I do it because I know it can help you with the process you are going through. Back in 2014 by this same time, I joined AmeriCorps and I faced something I didn’t expect, language barrier. I went to serve in Sacramento believing that because I understood English I was going to be able to speak it and have a very nice time. A big surprise suddenly become an ugly surprise, I was trying to speak my translation from Spanish to English in my brain and people were barely understanding me and not to mention that my Spanish accent wasn’t helping a lot. I began to feel embarrassed every time I needed to speak, I didn’t participate in activities in the way I wanted, I had high and lows very frequently. I can’t count how many times I felt frustrated, sad and concerned that weeks were passing and I wasn’t seeing/realizing improvements. A couple of times I felt miserable because I couldn’t express my feelings, a lot of mixed feeling during those days but an incredible learning process was beginning without realizing it and I’m very proud every time I remember that process. I’m sure that you will feel the same in the future when you look back to these days.

I remember a couple of things that helped me so much in my process to re-train my brain and think in another language. I will mention other things that I realized after reflecting on my AmeriCorps experience as well. Worth to mention that every person has different ways to learn and some learn faster than others, said this, some things can apply or not to you.
-          First, it is a long process and recognize it. It will help you to have patience with yourself. If you haven’t developed patience let me tell that you will do it here.
-          Second, your brain has been thinking and process everything in English all your life, said that, your first couple of months you will perceive that you are having tiny improvements but believe me, your brain right now is going through a big change and those tiny improvements will become huge by the final of this training.
-          Third, immerse completely in this culture and try to speak Spanish as much as you can, I know you feel embarrassed when you speak but practicing will help the brain to get use to think in Spanish more quickly.

-          Fourth, don’t be shy to tell the people to correct you every time you say something wrong, be humble, try to joke about the situation, feel vulnerable and TRY to explain the process you are going through. Believe me, instead of feel more embarrassed you will feel empower to be yourself and will make a little bit easy this learning process.
-          Fifth, develop a support system. By that time, I was the only having that problem but I had an incredible team of 8 people with lot of patience willing to help me. They gave me the confidence to talk and corrected me every time I was saying something wrong. Here you have around 28 people with the same situation. Please, rely in each other and practice with them. Try to follow step number 3.
-          Sixth, enjoy the process. It is going to be hard but enjoy it. Other people have gone through the same language barrier and have been able to succeed and unless you are a lazy and don’t make the extra effort, you are going to succeed as well, just remember step number 1, Be patience with yourself.
I really hope this can help a little bit in this journey learning a new language. I’m sure that in two years you are going to look back and feel so proud of yourself and I will be so happy to see that moment. Don’t give up my friend because you have a big purpose in this beautiful country. It has been a pleasure to meet each one of you and I will be more than glad to help anyone in this process.

Resultado de imagen para be calm and enjoy the process


Fernando Ortiz

Special thanks to my team and surrogate family in AmeriCorps: Leah Steffens, Erica Beversluis, Hannah Frizzell, Brittney Wright, Austin Lange, Alex Jensen, Lara Marshall, Lauren Babcock, Blair Elaine.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A journey began three years ago...

(Abajo en español)

It has been so long since my last post, I really couldn't explain how much I have grown as a person and how many new experiences I got since I first began to share my AmeriCorps' adventures in this blog.  I have failed to keep posting although I have a lot to share. It is incredible how in just three years I have been able to visit/live in different States and countries. I have been fortunate to live in Sacramento, Oakland/San Francisco(Bay Area), Denton(twice), Ecuador, New York City, South Carolina and Nicaragua where I'm currently living. I have lived in cities where people has a very humble way to live life and other cities that are flooded by big buildings and the word expensive is a common denominator. I find incredible that each of those cities shares its own beauty, ways to live life. Every place has its own and unique thing, probably something worth to write and share in a different post.

Summarizing these past three years, I could say it has been a complete adventure and also an incredible opportunity to discover myself as a person. I just remember embarking this journey not knowing what to expect or not having long term goals in my life and look at me right now, with a big dream to fulfill(I will talk more about it soon). I remember telling my friends with confidence three years ago that a very good opportunity was going to come, and life has surprised me with many opportunities. I promise to myself and to everyone reading this post I'm going to share more about all these changes for the past years, although it sounds an amazing journey but I believe my story and experience can help others. Crazy, I began this blog with AmeriCorps and put My Journey has begun as a title and it was really a beginning of amazing things. Keep around because I will continuously post in this blog for now on.

Thanks for reading.

Fernando Ortiz


Ha sido un largo tiempo desde la última vez que escribí aquí. Realmente lo mucho que he crecido como persona y las tantas experiencias que he tenido desde que empeze este blog para compartir mi aventuras en AmeriCorps. Es increible como en solo tres años he tenido la oportunidad de vivir en diferentes países y estados de Estados Unidos. He podido vivir en Sacramento, Oakland/San Francisco(localizado en California), Denton(Texas), Ecuador, Manhattan(New York), Pawley Island y Charleston(Carolina del Sur) y por último en Nicaragua en donde actualmente me encuentro viviendo. He vivido en ciudades donde la gente vive bien humildemente y otras donde esta llenas de edificios grandes y donde la palabra "costoso" es un denominador común. Encentro íncreible como cada una de estas ciudades comparte su única belleza y modo de vivir la vida, algo interesante para escribir mas adelante.

Resumiendo estos pasado tres años  podría decir que ha sido una completa aventura y también una increible oportunidad de descubrirme como persona. Recurdo haber comenzado este viaje sin saber que esperar y sin ni siquiera tener alguna meta a largo plazo, y mirame ahora mismo, persiguiendo un gran sueño y meta(algo de lo que hablaré mas adelante). Tres años atrás recuerdo hablerle dicho a mis amigos que una gran oportunidad iba a llegar y la vida me ha sorprendido no con una sino con varias oportunidades enriquecedoras. Me prometo a mi mismo y a todo el que lee este blog que iré posteando y compartiendo mucho mas acerca de estos cambios que he vivido en los pasados tres años porque aunque suene grandioso esta aventura pero ha venido con altas y bajas, y estoy seguro que puede ayudar a cualquier persona que haya pasado por algo parecido. Locura!, como titule este blog Un Viaje Ha Comenzado, y así mismo fue, había comenzado un viaje grandioso en mi vida. Espero que les haya gustado y esperen mas muy pronto!

Gracias por leer,

Fernando Ortiz