Thursday, September 17, 2009

Frustrations and Impressions

As a PCV I am often faced with many challenges. Sometimes these are issues because of culture, food, language; other times they are personal issues that are heightened because of the situation. Recently I had an experience that was both so completely frustrating in one aspect but yet made me impressed in another aspect.

Recently my organization finally conducted their environmental clean up project. Now what must be realized is they had been trying to do this project since April but were not able to because of funds. Finally, after many other problems and frustrations they received the money in July and I thought they would do the project that same month. No, after changing the date 3 times they decided to conduct it while I was on vacation down south. Needless to say I was really mad at them about this because I had written their grant, gotten their donors, went with them to buy everything and I wasn’t even going to be allowed to participate! I explained this to them and they then decided to change it to the Sunday I got back from vacation, although, they kept trying to hurry me back from vacation (which I hadn’t had since I’d been in country, and as anyone serving as a PCV knows are vitally needed). So I arrive back at site and realize that once again the date had been moved to the following Saturday. I was skeptical but after seeing their preparation work realized they might actually conduct the project.

While I was gone they had printed up the t-shirts, prepared the signs for the trucks, printed off really nice invitations and delivered them to key people and had done all the contacting and talking with them. So I was impressed by that. During this last week they had talked with all the participating students, invited governmental leaders, Peace Corps and various others from the area. They had done it all (I didn’t have to remind them of anything, which was really nice). So the day arrives and of course we have bad weather, but it didn’t deter them. They put on a really great presentation at the community center about why it’s important to protect the environment and invited all the students from the school to attend. They had 1 other neighboring VHC bring students and then we went out and cleaned not just my village but several others as well that they had contacted. Television reporters appeared and interviews were conducted. Then they served food for everyone... and they outdid themselves with the food.

So although I had so many frustrations with them leading up to the project they did an amazing job and they were so happy to be able to do it. Working at a VHC can be very frustrating at times but at other times very rewarding. This project was a combination of both and showed me more about myself and the Kyrgyz culture. I’m glad I was able to help them out and was so impressed by how well they all pulled it off. They are great people and this project let them show that. So despite some of the problems the outcome was good and that is really all the matters. It was definitely a learning process for both sides and has made us all better and this was just one project… their latest project, geared towards anemia, they actually built a new office for it….

Commong Things

After 1 year here’s what I’ve become used to and what I may have problems with back in the USA:

  • no microwave: gotten used to semi warm food or cold leftovers
  • wearing the same work outfit for an entire week: partly it’s because I’ve gotten lazy, another because it’s just easier and also because I don’t have enough clothes for a different day of the week
  • washing my hair once or twice a week
  • going weeks without a “bath”
  • flies: really they’re everywhere
  • starting everything at least 30 minutes after its “scheduled” time
  • every child saying “hello” to me
  • my cat constantly sitting on my lap trying to grab for bread
  • power shortages
  • very bad roads
  • marshukas: be thankful for the transportation options in the states; they really are good
  • distilled water: I think I’ve forgotten what a tap, and tap water, is
  • electric shocks: if you’ve seen the “power outlets” here you’d understand
  • homemade jam: it’s really really good
  • bread and tea for two meals a day
  • backyard gardens: it’s really great to be able to go pick one’s own apples, apricots, pears or raspberries
  • students standing up when a teacher enters (although it’s always a little weird when this happens)
  • hearing, and sometimes speaking, 3 languages: Kyrgyz, English, Russian
  • 2 prong plugs, really what’s the need for the 3rd?
  • deodorant, toothpaste, lotion, toothbrushes costing over $3 (for a volunteer this is expensive)
  • a seasonal diet: really be thankful that in the states this is not a problem
  • excellent medical care: it’s actually the best I’ve ever received, and it’s free: how many of you can say that?
  • Non-smiling Kyrgyz pictures: they don’t smile in pictures
  • Gold teeth: it takes getting used to but definitely grows on you
  • Tea all the time, no matter season, time or occasion
  • 3 land topography: beach, desert and mountains, it’s actually really unique and cool
  • Russian TV and music
  • Not flushing toilet paper down a toilet, throwing it into a basket to be burned
  • No trash cans

    There is a lot more that I currently cannot think of… hope you’ve enjoyed the above!