Monday, July 20, 2009

One and Another

Being a PCV means you constantly deal with another culture, langauge and beliefs on a daily basis. It can mean living in conditions you've never experienced before and coping with situations you've never anticipated. You truly learn about yourself and others. However, one of the most surprising things that many volunteers are often faced with this another sub-culture that exists in any PC country: the Volunteer culture. This culture is entirely consists of the volunteers and is often seen whenever large groups of volunteers interact together. For those of us not living in areas that have large amounts of volunteers these interactions can be hard and diffucult at times. Especially, as more time passes and you become more familiar with your site, work and the general absence of volunteers. Sure I have an amazing site mate an a few other volunteers are close by but I'm constantly surrounded by locals. Therefore, the volunteer sub-culture can at times be overwhelming.

Just imagine seeing maybe, one to three volunteers a week or every two weeks and then suddenly having ten Americans in your village for ten days staying with you. It's overwhelming. Are antics, speech, mannerisms and behaviors are so different from that of locals and at times it can be hard for volunteers to interact with each other. Also, in a small country such as this it can be difficult to distance onself entirely from the volunteer sub-culture. It's not bad having other volunteers around; we all have days when we just need to be to effortlessly speak our native tongue or have our culture understood. What is interesting is how the volunteer sub-culture is so vastly different from the daily culture we are exposed to and how that can at times itself be difficult to understand and deal with. Americans are different for the Kyrgyz people and each volunteer is different from others. We learn to live with a culture that is not our own and yet sometimes have trouble living within our own. Being a volunteer can be a very tricky. Anyone want to try?

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