One of my favorite (sometimes not so favorite when I am feeling particularly Type A) things about being a Peace Corps Volunteer is that my job description changes daily or sometimes hourly. There are days when I am "teacher." There are days when I am "coach." There are days when I am a facilitator of a group or activity. And there are days where I sit in someone's hammock watching telenovelas talking about the rain. I try to explain exactly what I do to Salvadorans and Americans and I don’t think I ever do it justice or define it adequately. No one really understands how all of the above translates into a job, especially the latter part of sitting in someone's hammock. To be quite frank, most of my job boils down to doing things that most people would not really see as “work,” but in the Peace Corps world we call it building confianza (trust) with our community members. Like today for example, my job title: Queen. And not to brag or anything, but today I did my job pretty well. I think I was made to be Queen. Well, maybe just this kind of Queen.
So we all know that Mr. Christopher Columbus “discovered” the Americas on October 12, 1492 and here in El Salvador we celebrate it as Dia de la Hispanidad or formerly “Dia de la Raza.” The festival is supposed to honor the discovery of this region of the world and commemorate the mixing of Europeans and Native peoples, which forms today’s culture of diversity in both humans and things. You know the Europeans brought their race of people, cows, and smallpox to mix with the indigenous population who could share the glories of chocolate, syphilis, and the turkey.
Enough with the (short) history lesson and back to me being Queen. I was asked over a month ago to run for Queen of this ceremony as a funny (what is more funny than making the gringa run for Queen with a bunch of 9 year olds?) way of collaborating in this festival and to help them raise some funds by paying to participate and donating my dress to the school in the end. Of course, I said “yes.” First, what “little” girl does not dream of being Queen for a day? Two, as I mentioned above, this is my job—to make an absolute fool out of myself in the name of building confianza.
So I started my campaign as Queen India Bonita. I tried to will myself to ask people to buy votes from me, but I failed miserably. I was VERY embarrassed to be asking people for money, but luckily most people were really into buying votes from me despite me NOT asking them (token white girl thing maybe), so I guess I can call my campaign a big success. You know you run a good campaign when you don't do anything and people vote for you. Maybe I should go into politics...(wooops way off topic)Anyways...
The program started around 10 a.m. and included a small history lesson, a few artistic points by various students, and the reading of the rules of the contest of crowning the queen of the “Indias Bonitas.” Of course, I won (not to sound cocky). I had to since everyone wanted to buy votes from me. Plus, I am the Gringa therefore I must win out of pure default or I might cry or something. I felt kind of bad beating out the 3 younger girls and stealing the saber and the kingdom from them, but I knew they have rigged it no matter what I did, so I just had to go with it. Plus, all of us got crowns and ribbons, so I guess that is all that matters in the end, right? And I was just doing my job as a PCV—doing what my community asks me to do no matter how much it embarrasses me. ;)