Posts Tagged ‘Frusteration’

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

13 September, 2009

My Peace Corps adventure is coming to a close.

It is hard to believe that two years can fly by so fast, and yet, crawl so slowly. In the past few weeks, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect over what I have done and my decision to join the Peace Corps and how that decision has impacted my life. Clearly, I am no longer the same person- I now consider a country that I previously only had an idea where it was located on a map as my second home.

I came with only one goal in mind (despite being told to have have no goals or expectations)–to make a difference. Have I achieved this goal? In ways I never suspected I could.  Have I changed? Irreversibly. I now see the world in a much different light, I’ve seen how so many can do with so little, what true oppression and hardship look like and most of all, the influence the allure the United States really has on the world. I was so impressed with how closely my Bulgarian friends followed the US Presidential elections. On female teacher told me that Hillary Clinton was her greatest inspiration because she showed what women can achieve.

But before I learned all of this, I had to go through training.  As part of my 11 weeks of training, I lived with a family of Bulgarians. When I first meet this kind family, I could only tell tell them that I loved cucumbers (which isn’t true) and could ask if there was hot water.

My host family, the Kamzholivis

My host family in Rila

Extreme cultural sensitivity on both sides bridged the language barrier and I quickly found myself a part of their family; traveling six to seven hours to spend Christmases and Easter with them.

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner

This acceptance wasn’t limited to a single family who took care of me during my training. There were many many people and families that helped this hapless American in the first frightening months of service (and it should be noted, those months fall on one of the coldest winters in recent memory). Their kindness and generosity were gave me the strength I needed to get through the winter and gave me confidence that I can to it.

My dance team and I

Me with my kindergarten class, Christmas 2008

Me with my kindergarten class, Christmas 2008

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Seven Bulgarian Scandals

30 June, 2009

June 30 (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s Socialist-led government has been plagued by high-level corruption scandals during its four years in power, prompting the European Union to freeze millions of euros in aid for the bloc’s poorest member.

Brussels criticised Sofia for failing to cut links between virtually all political parties and “rings of companies”, a phrase used by Ahmed Dogan — the kingmaker in the ruling coalition and leader of the ethnic Turkish MRF — to explain how parties are funded.

Last year, Transparency International rated Bulgaria the most corrupt EU nation. Despite numerous pledges, Sofia has not convicted a single senior official of graft and has sent to jail only one crime boss since the end of communism in 1989.

Suspected criminals have received temporary immunity from prosecution after registering to run for parliament.

The agriculture and environment ministries, both controlled by the MRF, and the construction and the economy ministries, controlled by the Socialists, have been allegedly involved in some of the most notorious schemes in the past few years.

Here are the main scandals:
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“Your work is to find work”

26 May, 2008

-PC Staff during training

I seem to be finding/planning work but not so much on the follow through. I have lots of plans and project ideas but they tend just be that, plans and ideas. I’ve been trying to get my English clubs off the ground. There has been enthusiasm but little action. As for my medical center project, it’s stalled. I’ve written emails to the WHO, World Bank, EEA and Ministry of Finance with nothing to show for it. I’m not really sure where to proceed with it, or if I can. Even worse, I think my lack of progress is letting down my co-workers and the doctors in the villages that I surveyed. Especially this one.

Even though I’m a COD volunteer, I’m not really doing much COD work. That’s been frustrating; part of the reason I was excited to be a Community and Organizational Development volunteer was to get more specific experience. The only COD-type work I’ve done is help with the PHARE project, the At-Risk Children’s Center- Youth Development (YD)-type work. The only real work I feel like I’ve been doing is teaching the computer class and will be a kindergarten teacher (since there will be no new TEFL in town after my site mate leaves).

I was talking about my frustrations with Cindy over the weekend and she pointed out that I’m adapting the needs of community and not to fret; I’ll be busy soon enough. If I get my English clubs off the ground with teaching kindergarten and continuing my computer classes, I’ll have my hands full. Part of this is re-assuring as I’ll feel like I’m making a difference. Both another part of me feels like I’ll be letting down my organization, the department of external resources at the municipality.

But it’s not about me, right? The bottom line (and what I need to keep front and center) is my contributions to my community. Most of my PCV friends are in similar positions- YDs feeling like CODs and vice versa while everyone feeling like a TEFL more often than not. I think I need to remember that although I may not be fulfilling my role per se, I will be leaving my community better off than I found it.

No one said the Peace Corps would be easy.