Sunday, February 20, 2011

Confessions as we near the one-year mark

I’m coming close to approaching one year as a PCV. For me, this brings some highly mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’ve made it nearly a year – and there comes with that a strong feeling that the worst is over and the best is yet to come. There also comes with that a visceral comfort in my routine and surroundings. On the other hand, it brings a lot of self-doubts. I’ve been here a year, with what to show for it? Mostly relationships, a semi-successful English class for teachers, a completed tourism diagnostic, and lots of ideas about what could be done this year and in the future. But those hardly seem like professional results.

I just feel skeptical that I will guide our office to accomplish much more in this year - in terms of the overall "plan" - than I did in the past year. I know that it's been really important to wait things out and build confidence with people, but what if I still haven't done enough to lay groundwork for this next year? What could I have accomplished this year - or still accomplish - with a more-thought-out plan, greater persistence, more contact with the community, less fear of offending people, less fear of walking alone, less of a religious insistence on sitting back and observing? What could I have accomplished if my head and heart hadn't been floating detached from me for the first months here, living from phone call to phone call and e-mail to e-mail with my significant other?

It becomes difficult to sort out where the external challenges begin and I end. Was it I who was detached or did my surroundings work to detach me? Or both? The real gist turns in my mind: what could have been done differently in this past year, whether by me or someone more capable?

But the reality neither is nor was that simple. I am not and was not separate from the challenges I’ve faced. They are part of me and I am part of them; I have to face up to that. The past always seems less messy looking back than the present feels… and I think a large part of this experience is accepting that lesson. But I would really like to strive for greater clarity in what I’m doing in the present, while accepting my internal and external limitations.

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