Change Yourself…Change The World.

To Becky Schaffer
June 4, 2013, 3:53 pm
Filed under: India, Paraguay, USA


It´s been awhile since we talked. It´s almost been two years since you´ve passed, but sometimes I like to pretend that you´re just off in another exotic country, without access to internet. The older you get, the rarer true friendships seem to be. I always considered you a true friend. And I miss you.

When you passed away, it came as a great shock to me. I´ve never had a friend die so young, so suddenly, and so tragically. I couldn´t believe that someone who was so full of life, who had so much left to do on this planet, could leave so quickly. For awhile, I just couldn´t understand it. Grief would hit me at different times, in the most random of places. Everything just felt so…unfinished.

While processing this grief over the first year of my service, I gradually came to a realization. You may be gone, but you will live forever through the people who´s lives you´ve touched. And so I decided to continue your legacy and your greatest love in life- teaching children- and bring all of your love, energy, and passion to 50 children in Paraguay.

Over the past year, I taught English to a 4th, 5th, and 6th grade class in my community, in your honor. I never considered myself passionate about teaching English, teaching to children, or just teaching in general- but this project ended up being one of the highlights of my service. Because I always brought all of the love and energy I knew that you would to each class, these kids returned just as much. They loved the classes. Every Tuesday became the highlight of my week- the day that I got to play fun games like Twister (to learn colors and body parts), English Jeapoardy, Hangman, and do great projects like creating family trees in English with these wonderful kids.

The looks on their faces every day I came to teach English

Receiving American Flags as a pen pal gift from 6th graders in the United States

With the end of my service in the Peace Corps drawing to a close, I´ve recently spent some sleepless nights wondering whether I´ve made any sort of difference here in my community, Caazapá. Today, as I went into my final English classes, all of our kids (yours and mine) surprised me with posters, handwritten notes, lots of cheering and hugs (and a few tears), and a cake. The director of the school presented me with a special Paraguayan lace tablecloth as a thank you. Those last few hours with my students made my entire two years of service worth it. I wish I could explain better how much it meant to me, but some things are just beyond words.

I had one final activity for all of the students for our last class. I told them about you, and what an amazing person you are. I told them that we traveled to India together before Paraguay, and that every place we went to you would always go find a local school to teach English to the children. I told them that the first day of my service, I found out that you had passed away. And that instead of being sad, I decided to do something in your honor- and so you inspired me to teach them English.

I asked them to help me create a banner thanking you. Each class decorated every word, and wrote messages on the banner like ´we love you Becky,´ and ´Rest in Peace, Becky.´ They finished by signing all of their names on it.

So I guess I am writing you this letter because I wanted to let you know that even though you´re gone, you are never forgotten. That because of you, 50 kids in Paraguay were able to fall in love with a language. And that one person in particular- me- will never, ever forget these kids. I find it very classic Becky that this project was something I did to honor you- yet a year later, I could never repay you for this gift that you gave me.

Thank you, Becky.

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

So beautiful and moving Brit!
Love you forever,

Comment by sgih

I am touched beyond belief. One of the saddest things about losing Becky has been the dawning realization that only a handful of people still think about her with the same intensity as Bill and I do. I am so honored to have you in this exclusive club. One of the souvenirs I saved from Becky’s time in Gilgil, Kenya, is a banner the children made for her when she left, that reads, “Bye Becky. We Love You. ” So of course if you can send the banner your children made, I would love it. A whole other classroom of children who learned the joy of learning and the joy of Becky, thanks to you.
I have been faithfully keeping a journal of what it has been like to live without Becky, which I plan to turn into a book, with alternating chapters of Becky’s own writings, slim as they are but revealing, from India and Africa. This summer, I will work full-time on it. A chapter goes to you.
Brittany, I would love to meet you when you return. I don’t know what you plans are, but perhaps we can make our paths cross in the near future. There is much to share.
All my love,
Janice Cooper
53 West Elm St.
Yarmouth, ME 04096 (new address)

Comment by Janice Cooper

Mama Becky, I would love to meet you sometime soon in the future as well! I am so glad you liked this post, and I wish you could meet the kids. They are all sending you their love!

Comment by brittanygoesglobal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: