Today marks my first full week at work, and its been exciting and challenging and incredibly interesting so far. My biggest struggle is undeniably the fact that I know what is expected of me, I know the conversations I want to have to move forward, to work towards our goals, but I do not have the language capacity to do so. While I feel like I can understand a great deal of Russian, I still can’t get the words together to contribute all I want to be saying. It’s difficult to talk about abstract concepts with the vocabulary of a third grader, and I spend most of my day listening, poring over a dictionary, or fiercely typing into GoogleTranslate (PS. GoogleTranslate is my JAM, thank you GoogleTranslate.)
And the worst feeling is – I feel like time is already evaporating so fast, already fleeting, already counting down the days until I end my service. And I know that there is so much to do, so much to accomplish, I’m wasting time explaining that I am just now learning Russian, that I hope to be better at it soon. That I promise I will figure out how to describe the thoughts that are angrily bouncing around my brainbox, raring to be put into action.
And here is the secret that all Peace Corps Volunteers know: that’s normal.
That’s how this works. It’s hard. You will always be frustrated that you can’t do more than you can – its a tautology and its maddening. It’s going to be a long process, but an exciting one. You need to get time to adjust to your site, to your work, to your new life. Be patient, be open, be ready for everything in the meantime. You need to give yourself time to learn. You need to spend time investing in relationships and your community. You need to do all of that without exploding. It’s all part of it.
I think everyone of my fellow K-21s is frustrated in some way or another, and I think its because it takes a special kind of person to pick up everything and leave to work on behalf of the Peace Corps, under hardship and facing immense challenges on the other side of the world. We are a group of driven individuals working for positive change, and its difficult when you are trapped by something as simple as language.
I know that I have already talked about what I will be doing some, but over the next few days I hope to talk a little more about the people I have been introduced to over the past week, what I have seen and learned, and my ideas for the two years to come. I promise I won’t always be frustrated.