Monday, August 13, 2007

Everything Old Is New Again

I don't have much of an update for you all. I have been a super-slacker. I was telling a PCV friend of mine the difference between the Apryl of August 2006 and the Apryl of August 2007. Last year, at this time, I had had a full summer. I had participated in a couple of camps. I had been working with my colleagues, getting the educational center ready. I had been busy, but I hadn't felt fulfilled. I was, in short, obsessing about my seeming unproductivity. This year, I've done about as much - if not less. The difference is: It doesn't bother me much. I don't feel unproductive. I don't feel like a "bad volunteer." Interesting. "I've grown," I told this volunteer. She congratulated me.
It's interesting. I think I have grown. Not that I think apathy is a sign of maturity. I think I've just become a little more realistic about the expectations I put on myself. It's summer. Everyone's gone for work, or they're taking tests to get into university, or they're vacationing somewhere far away. My colleagues don't have a lot of work in the office, and they're taking advantage to get some other things done. I'm taking advantage to recover from my bronchitis and relax a little. It's doctor's orders. Plus, I've got some other things to keep me busy.
A new group of volunteers just arrived from the states. I've been asked to be a resource volunteer. Basically, I am assigned to a training group, and I go visit them a few times to help them facilitate some meetings and project writing. I'm a real-life PCV resource. I still remember Trud's resource volunteers from training. They were a wealth of information, and I always enjoyed talking with them.
I met "my" group last Thursday. They seem like cool kids. I had a good time getting to know them and fielding their questions about what it's like to be a PCV in Bulgaria. Honestly, they were cute 'cause they were worrying about the same things some of us were worrying about. It was their first week, and they were about to meet their families: "What will I say to them? What if I can't learn Bulgarian? What if I can't cut it as a volunteer?" A few of us "seasoned" volunteers looked at them, and we just thought, "We're so glad we're not in this situation all over again."
This weekend, I went to hang out with Thomas in Dolna Banya. He was finishing up some training on his SPA project - doing some team-building activities with some of his friends in town. I felt like I was in the way a little, but I did help out when it came time to demonstrate some exercises. I was the first to take part in a "trust fall" (because I was the lightest), I "walked" between a couple trees on a rope while holding another rope, I was a "survivor" on an island. I love those kind of things. The best part, however, was there were some other kids up at the "hija" (lodge), and they took part in these games without blinking an eye. They were so adorable. I love how brave kids are.
Last night, Thomas had a farewell dinner with some of his colleagues and friends. He's been cleaning his apartment (I got a load of stuff) 'cause he's leaving in two days for the states and grad school. It was a very nice dinner until... they started talking about their intense dislike for the Roma. They know that's a sensitive topic for Thomas (and me), and they still insisted on bringing it up and getting into a heated discussion about it. It was so awful and disappointing. We were thinking, "It's Thomas' last night with some of you. You know this is a topic he's pretty passionate about. He's not going to change his mind this late in the game. You haven't convinced him just as he hasn't convinced you. Why do you insist on getting into this?"
I'm going to Sofia tomorrow to hang out with Thomas one last time and drop him off at the airport. It's going to be hard saying good-bye. It's always difficult to say "good-bye" to your friends - especially to volunteers you've shared an experience with. Thomas has introduced me to new ideas and he's taught me a lot. It's going to be hard losing an ally.
As for a health update, I still have bronchitis. I saw the doctors up at the PC Trainee Orientation, and they were dismayed that my condition hadn't improved much. I've been put on another inhaler, and it's probably true that I hadn't been using the first one correctly. I've seen people use them, but I don't have much experience with trying to inhale medicine into my lungs. If I'm not better by the end of the week, I'll have to go see a pulmonologist. Honestly, I'm already starting to feel better. I still have some fluid and wheezing in my lungs, but I don't cough as much. I really don't want to go see a pulmonologist.