After a rough day I walk through the door to my home and let out a sigh of relief. I try to think of things to pick myself up. Then I remember the hot chocolate packets I received in a recent package from my mom. What better time to break into some old Swiss Miss than after “one of those days”? I tear open the corner of the packet and smell the contents. “Mmm” I hum audibly. I heat up hot water in our electric teapot and mix the contents with the steaming liquid. After the chocolate-y goodness cools just enough so I won’t burn my mouth, I sip a tiny amount and let it sit on my tongue. I’m immediately thrown back to a distinct memory from my childhood. I’m 8 or 9 years old, lying on my stomach on the grey shag carpet at my grandparent’s house surrounded by my siblings and cousins. We all have mugs of Swiss Miss hot chocolate and are watching The Little Rascals on the big screen T.V. It tasted like home and like sweet, sweet memories.
Although this blog highlights the interesting and different aspects of Kyrgyz life and culture, and seemingly always ends on a somewhat positive note, it goes without saying that life here has it’s difficulties. As an American serving in a village in Kyrgyzstan, my growing up and living the first 24 years of my life with all of the conveniences of a typical American life has not done me any favors in adjusting to my current lifestyle. All Peace Corps Volunteers experience this difficult lifestyle change to some degree regardless of where they serve. My journey certainly has been no exception.
The vast majority of volunteers, at some point during their service, question the significance of their work. Am I really helping anyone? Am I doing anything a Kyrgyz person couldn’t do? Does the work I produce make all of the sacrifice and difficulties worthwhile? Am I doing anything? Could I be doing more somewhere else, doing something else? Is it worth it? Questions surface, then more questions, and then even more complex questions. Everyday I ask myself questions regarding the significance of my work here. Some of which I will never know or see the answers to, which poses yet more difficulties. I imagine I’ll have some of these questions for the remainder of my service.
The encouraging friend or family member would tell me “if you help just one person, then you’ve done something.” Could this be the silver lining in this journey? I know that my Counterpart’s English has improved over our time working together. Is this my purpose? Some would say yes. I’m much harder on myself then anyone could be. I have a difficult time imagining the significance of my work resting with one person. This, you may say, is narrow-minded. I would agree with you. Though changing a frame of mind is a large creature to tackle. The significance of a person’s work can be interpreted in a variety of ways, as can it’s impact. I set myself up for failure when I placed certain expectations of the significance of my work here without knowing if those expectations were attainable.
The reason there’s been such a long gap between my blog posts was simply because I was waiting for something positive and lighthearted to write about. That didn’t come. So I decided to be honest. After all, this blog is about my journey here including all of it’s beauty and struggles.