After an arduous week back on campus in Aurora it was time for me to pack my red bag once again, this time for the last time and head south, almost all the way to Mexico. My third round placement would be taking me to Deming, New Mexico in Luna County, one of the poorest in the state. I was both excited and apprehensive about the project, with immense need in the area I knew there would be work to do, however being a first time sponsor I was also worried about the organization of the 12 weeks lying ahead of my round 3 team. It's now been two weeks since my round 3 team and I have arrived in Deming, and I must say I'm glad I came in with that apprehension because things are going just about as I had expected. Our project sponsors are eager, yes, but the execution of things has yet to really take off. Never the less I'm currently 33 miles away from Mexico surrounded by desert and mountains, quite the shift from the "homey" feeling I had in Missouri, so much so I sometimes feel like I'm in another country - so that's a plus!
For the next 12 weeks the team and I are stationed in Deming, New Mexico however with the way things have been going we'll be serving in quite a few locations in the area. It's only been three weeks and I already have a slew of business cards, half of which are for mayors and other city department heads. If nothing else I'll come away from this project with great networking skills and quite a few connections in the southwest region of New Mexico. Our main sponsor here is Deming Cesar Chavez Charter High School (DCCCHS) under the direction of Stan Lyons coupled with the entire city of Deming and Mayor Jasso. Stan has been my go to since day one for direction on logistics for the team: housing, scheduling and work plans, but unfortunately I think he may be in over his head. Half of the time he's relaying messages to me through other city officials or passing on numbers of individuals I should contact, for work or otherwise.
The main problem here in Deming is that New Mexico recently decided to take away funding from Charter High Schools which put a major hiccup in the plans DCCCHS had for the team and myself. We're supposed to be a knee deep into building a test vineyard for the high school, but without money that project has been pushed far onto the horizon, and instead we've been shifted from the old library to the golf course, the water and sewage treatment plant and even Columbus, a city 30 miles south. Without the funds, the school doesn't have the resources to complete the projects and instead our focus shifts to the city, but again there's a few roadblocks. Our work with the city is centered around landscaping and infrastructure development at Pit Park where they're in the process of installing a lake. Unfortunately [for the team] the lake isn't yet complete which means our hands aren't yet needed, and instead we're placed at whatever odd project they feel we could be of assistance.
I know this schedule is stressful to some, it can be frustrating not knowing where you'll be in a few days or what random project you may be working on, but a little part of me is enjoying it. I do appreciate being handed more responsibility, having the sponsors trust me with arranging our schedule and connecting the team with different projects and directors. In my first three weeks I've met the Mayors from four different cities, sat in on committee meetings and on numerous occasions asked for input. While it's frustrating not always getting straight answers, and on one occasion a little bit of attitude, I don't mind the responsibility.
While we wait on the city for the green light at the lake project, the team has arranged to serve in Columbus and Lordsburg, with the hopes that once two weeks of service are completed with them Deming will be ready for us. In Columbus we're partnering with Mayor Salas, one of the sweetest most even keeled men I've ever met, in preparation for the inaugural Columbus Founders day on June 15th. Mayor Salas has been hopes for his small town, wanting to put it on the map, showcasing it's history as the birthplace of military aviation and the invasion of Pancho Villa and his men. The team will be helping with infrastructure improvement at a central gathering area, rebuilding a gazebo and adding some sidewalks, hopefully all of which will be done before the big day. Similar projects are on the list for Lordsburg, but the team has yet to dive into those so only time will tell.
A Year of Service
My life, being anything but predictable, has taken another turn. Rather than moving to Jeju, South Korea - my original plan for Fall '18, I'm going to test drive Denver, CO and its surroundings, an area people just keep telling me "I'd love".