Monday, January 14, 2008

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

One of my Program Managers from Peace Corps was here on Friday. He's the type of person that used to intimidate me before I had a chance to really interact with him, and now I enjoy giving him a hard time every once in a while. He sat down with my colleagues and told them that Peace Corps expects my third year to the "the most successful year in PC." Everyone gets to do two years... to do three has to have real value. The organization really needs to prove that they need me. I explained that I was a little frustrated my first week back because they were so busy with other stuff, they hardly had time to try and include me in the office work. I felt pretty useless. They assured me that things would change. I think I was just being sensitive for my first week back. I'm glad Peace Corps was here to push how important it is that I have work to do - and not just classes.
I think my colleagues got it. It's just that turning a "we should do that" into a "this is how we're going to do it" is tough here. I feel like a lot of time gets wasted here in the office. We could be doing so much more, but we come up against some obstacle like, "Oh, I can't send it in that format right now," or "Oh, I can't think of a good goal to write here at the moment," or "I don't have what I need on this computer," and then all of these excuses are followed by, "I'll do it tomorrow." Well, "tomorrow" things pile up. And I wish I knew how to help them.
Right now, we're supposed to be having English classes, but a couple of my colleagues are MIA. "Working" in Bulgaria can be frustrating.
Coming back I realized just how small our office is. I think the PC representative was surprised as well. "You work here?" He thought we had moved up to the Educational Center - which would be more expansive and conducive for working space. We just bump into each other around here - getting in each other's way and playing "musical chairs" with the computers.
I miss that about the states - having space to move about. I also miss things like customer service and not smelling like a perpetual ashtray. Ah well, there are a lot of things I like, too.
After the meeting with colleagues and my program rep, he and I went to coffee. We had a good conversation, and he encouraged me to apply to be a technical trainer for this next YD PST (Youth Development Pre-Service Training). When new volunteers AKA trainees come into the country, Peace Corps has a volunteer (usually one who's been here two years) help out with the training. In the past, it has been through recommendations of past volunteers and program's choice. That person doesn't make any extra money for the work they do. Well, this year, they're opening it up to volunteers to apply. Apparently, the salaries are going to be pretty good as well. There will be a lot of competition. He encouraged me to apply saying, "I think you'd be good at it, and we'd work well together." Yeah well, I'm not so sure I'd be good at it. Besides, I guess the CD (Country Director) will be deciding - not Program staff. We'll see. As they say here in Bulgaria, "Ima vreme" (there's time).
This weekend I went to visit my host family in Trud. I had a great time with them - as always. The thing is, I think I have to tell them things a bunch of times to make them real. For example, Vili and I get super lazy on these weekends. And our "parents" let us. We had some things we needed to do, and Vili was dragging her feet. I told them, "I have to go home this evening." They thought I was joking. Even when I told them that I wasn't joking, they thought I was joking. In the end, we had to hurry to get everything done.
Dear American Taxpayers,
I bought something with your money - something expensive. I saved up a good chunk of leva while I was in the states. Thank you.
Okay, now my colleagues are back, and we're arguing about whether or not we'll really study English. Grr.... I'm doing this for you. Don't be like everyone else and say "Oh yeah, I'll come," and then in the end - nothing. I can't handle that from you.
I was reading a beauty magazine at my "parent's" house, and there was an interview with one of the chalga singers that I like. As a sidenote, it's embarrassing in a way that I like chalga. It's like admitting to liking Britney Spears. It's not my preferred style of music, but I admit to liking some of it. Anyway, this woman was asked, "What's the worst thing that's ever been written about you?" She answered, "Once, in the beginning of my career, they wrote that I'm a 'tsiganka'(a woman of Roma ethnicity)." I couldn't believe it. The worst thing ever said of you was that you're Roma. The interviewer went on to ask, "Wasn't it difficult when magazines were writing that you broke up with your boyfriend?" (I think she has a child with this guy.) She basically told them to mind their own business.
Wow. The "worst" thing is to be called Roma when you aren't. I was trying to think how I would feel if anyone mixed up my ethnicity. I get frustrated when people call me "English," but I'm not offended, and it's certainly not the worst thing anyone could ever call me. In fact, Angel sometimes affectionately calls me "tsiganko," and I love it when he does that. It makes me feel included. Just goes to show you that one person's insult is another person's compliment.

No comments: