In this past Thursday’s class, Kiya handed out a survey that focused on religion and faith practices. The first question asked “How often do you volunteer?” with “1” being “Not often” and “7” being “Very Often.” I circled a 6 because of my past work, but since last week, I feel like a -1. Jimmy and I are not able to visit the R’s any longer and I have decided to focus our efforts on the grandparents. Unfortunately, we cannot do this either because Grandpa is currently in the hospital after being hit by a car, poor man.
But let me back up.
The day after I was asked to leave, I felt pretty terrible. I knew that Jimmy was very, very angry—which was fine, of course—but I was miserable because I felt like I let not only the the family down, but also Jimmy, Dr. Amick, the class, my family, and myself down. I mean, c’mon, I was basically fired from a volunteer position. I felt pretty pathetic. Also, I started to feel a bit sick during class, but I knew I had to stick around to tell my professor about the R’s. Dr. Amick is almost always surrounded by a crowd of eager students after class so I tried to give him the short-version of what had happened (Jimmy wasn’t there because he had pulled an all-nighter for an exam). I don’t think he really understood what was going on, because Dr. Amick had said that we ought to contact the ECAC to get the kids a tutor for each day. But I started feeling sicker, so I just decided to email him and Jimmy later and left for home. The feeling “sick” turned out to be sicker, and after a 3:00am visit to the hospital, I found out that I had contracted gastroenteritis—and the doctors believe that I most likely got it from the R’s, sadly. There are a couple ways to get gastroenteritis and all of them are, to be honest, pretty gross. If you really want to know, Google it. But just know that I was out of commission from that Tuesday morning until late Saturday and pretty miserable.
After a frantic phone call from Jimmy on Friday evening, I decided to go through my previously ignored email where I was greeted with a rather large conversation between Dr. Amick, Sarah at the ECAC, and Jimmy. Sarah told us that the R’s denied everything. I was in absolute shock. They had told her that the R’s had definitely not given me an ultimatum, that they would “like” us to visit five days a week between three and six in the evening, that us arriving between 8 and 9pm is too late, and that we are taking too much food by demanding dinner every visit. All of this is a lie. During the week I had moved from shame to embarrassment and now shock with a tinge of anger. Why did they say this about us? Why did they lie? Of course they issued an ultimatum—both Jimmy and I were told of it separately by two different family members. Even the children were there to witness it. Also, we never arrive even close to 8pm and always leave a little before or at 9pm…the children aren’t even ready for bed by that time. Jimmy said that last year, everyone stayed up late watching Bollywood movies or YouTube videos anyway. Furthermore, we never require food (and after that week, I honestly don’t think I can have anymore for awhile…), the parents always stop us from tutoring and make us sit and eat, usually piling on second and third helpings.
As I hadn’t been online in a few days, the conversation seemed pretty resolved, but I wanted to send Sarah my version of events anyway. It was decided that Jimmy and I would start tutoring the grandparents. We knew for a fact that they enjoy us and the company we bring, as well as have a desire to learn English. Plus, we may get to see the children again if they come to visit (!).
I had a lot of time to think last week…and some of it worried me. I am, in no possible way, looking for pity or have the desire to come off like I keep harping about being sick, but I was alone for a large portion of the time and I feel the need to say this. I am currently in the process of applying for the Peace Corps and I leapt at the chance to take this class as a way to prepare myself for the Corps. I know I still really want to work for the Peace Corps, but I got very scared last week. I was basically bedridden except for my frequent trips to the bathroom. Academically, I was supposed to have quite a busy week and on top of that, my best friend from home was flying in for the weekend for her first trip to Chicago. I had many mini-breakdowns and I hate admitting that. I hate it, hate it, hate it. It took me a long time to decide if I want to write about this…I don’t like admitting, let alone voicing, how weak I can be. The biggest thought that haunted me day and night is that this will happen again. It is sure to, no matter where I go with the Corps. And I’m scared that I won’t be strong enough, mentally, to work through it. I KNOW this sounds incredibly melodramatic and I sincerely apologize, but I think if any of the readers have experienced gastroenteritis or a version of it, they will understand. Now, don’t misunderstand me and think I’m talking about me perhaps suffering from a psychotic break in the future, I just mean that this was most assuredly a test…probably from God. For a long time, I thought I failed. It wasn’t until Christen (my visitor) and I discussed it did I realize that I still want to work for the Corps. I cannot envision myself doing anything else, in fact. And I think I can hold onto that.
This past Monday, Jimmy informed me that he was visiting the R’s to “cut the cord.” I was not invited to go with him because he said that he had gotten the feeling that it would be “dangerous” for me to re-visit them. I really don’t think this was true and I was a little upset because I had intended to at least give the children the stack of Christmas presents I had for them, but I understand his reasoning. Besides, I was trying to catch up on homework at the time and the thought of being made to eat again didn’t exactly make my stomach leap with joy. Anyway, Jimmy called me afterward and reported being shocked at the treatment he was given. The R’s were extremely kind and Jimmy even saw K (the father who we’ve had the most trouble with). K was gracious and happy—quite the opposite version that Sarah had worried us about. My partner was told that the family is looking for tutors that can rotate enough for the children to get their babysitter/tutor for each weekday. But what was most intriguing was that Jimmy was invited back “anytime.” He could even bring me back, too, for a visit and a meal. Jimmy was very excited to tell me about this, but I believe this was an example of what Dr. Amick had warned us about—they may not know how to (or want to) say “no.” Regardless, we will not be visiting the R’s apartment complex again but we still hope to see the kids at the grandparents’.
Once I returned to class, I learned of Grandpa’s accident. He was hit by a car just after they moved into their new condo. He is still in the hospital with a twisted arm, a broken shoulder, a broken leg, and quite a scratched up face—I just learned the details today. Jimmy and I hope to visit him soon. I’m not sure of the politics of St. Francis Hospital, but I hope we can get in. He is such a kind, sweet man, my heart goes out to him and Grandma.
Now that two weeks have passed since the incident, I have gained some perspective. I still sometimes feel embarrassingly useless when I go to class or read our blog, but I hope that as soon as Thanksgiving passes, we will be able to visit the grandparents. I do not take the R’s actions personally any longer, I know readjustment to a new country is difficult and stresses can manifest in many ways. I wish the family the very, very best and I pray that the children will get great tutelage. I do not regret anything and I cannot wait to help the grandparents out in any way I can.