Monday, February 18, 2008

Design and Management

I haven't had a blog comment since I've been back in Bulgaria! (sigh) I wish I were popular. Hehe. My posts are probably too long and mundane. I bet if I had a blog dedicated to the trails and tribulations I live through with my boyfriend, "Raging Alcoholic with Identity Disorder" and my lover, "Insecure Rocker with Purple Leather Jacket Collection," I'd get tons of hits and comments from people who understand what I'm going through. But alas, I'm just a girl living in Bulgaria. Where's the drama in that? They won't make a miniseries out of me anytime soon, that's for sure.
My pipes are frozen again. It's frustrating, 'cause it didn't seem like it was that cold over the weekend. I slept soundly while Jack Frost did a number on my pipes. Meh. And the fan on one of my heaters has stopped working. That fan makes a huge difference when it circulates the air to warm up the room. Whine, whine, whine.
This past week, I went to help out with a Project Design and Management (PDM) workshop in a town called Hissar. The one other volunteer from my group who extended was also there, but we were surrounded by over 80 volunteers who appeared on the scene after us. It's not easy for me to jump into a new crowd of people, and even though pretty much everyone was nice, I missed the other volunteers in my group. But, like I said, the people were nice, and they let me hang out with them.
I think the training itself went well - at least for our group. I was partnered with six other staff from Peace Corps, and our task was to train volunteers and their Bulgarian counterparts on the basics of project design. We had about 36 people in our group, and they seemed to grasp the concepts well. I even got to do some interpreting. Even though I was far from perfect at it, I loved that part the most. There was one part in the training where I lost a bit of self-confidence and fretted that I wasn't being clear, but people assured me that I was doing fine. Strangers and acquaintances alike told me that I am a good facilitator - so, what more can you ask for?
I was asked a couple of times why I say "yes" when Peace Corps asks me to do these trainings. I've mentioned before that I don't exactly enjoy getting up in public. Well, the truth is, it always sounds good when Peace Corps asks at first. I think, "Hey, it'll be cool." Then, I get in front of everyone, and I start doubting myself. I get nervous - especially when I'm trying to relay vital concepts that I think are tough to grasp. The truth is, I like speaking in public. It's just that my physiology indicates otherwise when I start freaking out. In the end, I got to meet a lot of cool people, I felt useful, and I received a lot of compliments. I would say that it was worth it for the old ego.
I returned this Friday to find that my colleagues had postponed their annual Valentine's dinner so that I could attend. That was really nice of them, but I was exhausted from PDM and didn't want to go. I turn into a snot-nosed brat when I'm overtired. This is something I've learned about myself. Yanko started by giving us all beautiful long-stemmed roses, and he got us perfume. I pulled out my gift, read the box, and chuckled to myself. "Should I tell Yanko," I thought, "that this is cologne - for a man?" It said "pour homme" on the box. At first I thought, "This is a really nice gift. Don't say anything." But Yanko soon started explaining that he didn't pick them out. He told the woman in the shop to choose something for each of us. It was too funny not to share. I told him. I would have kept my mouth shut if he had picked them out himself, but I just had to go and tell. Yanko was frustrated, but my other colleagues said we shouldn't expect the lady in the shop to understand French. Still, we thought, if you're going to sell perfume and cologne, you should know what you're selling. My other colleagues had all received perfume - for women. I've left it for Yanko to take back. Maybe I should have "re-gifted" it or kept it around for when I want to fantasize about having a man at my place. Oh well.
Toward the end of the evening, my eyes were glazing over, and I was staring off into thin air. We were joined at our table by three other guys, and one of them was getting on my nerves. He's the same guy who follows me around and throws words at me in English. I was reminded that he's an orphan, and he's got this indomitable spirit, so I try to like him. I can't by sheer force of will. Then, one of my colleagues said something careless, and I really got upset. I was moody and pouting. It was time to go. I told everyone good night, made a slight scene, and left. No harm done though.
Now that I'm back in the office, we're doing project writing and we're fighting. (sigh) We fight over the silliest things - like, "What do you mean by the word 'festival?'" It's so ridiculous. What usually sets it off is someone's tone of voice when they question someone else's reasoning. The first person will insinuate that the other isn't thinking clearly (or not at all); the other person gets defensive, and it just escalates from there. It's like trying to write a project, and we're all temperamental four-year-olds. There are actually comments like, "Fine. I won't ask any questions. I agree with whatever you decide. I'm not going to talk anymore." And then that person stares off into space while there's an awkward silence for the next minute or so. In the past, I haven't usually been the one to break that silence, but now I've taken that role just because it's so unlikely that someone will turn and blast me. I don't know how we develop good projects in that atmosphere.


Anonymous said...

Here's a comment, now that you're asking for one...

A word of praise, really...I love to read your pieces (yes, I do), but most of all I can't tell ye how much I admire what you're doing and how strong and devoted you are, living by yourself without a support from a family or significant other.

You're doing for my country so much, and it beats me why (you're not THAT religious, aren't you)....well I just meant to say:

Thank you, miss. Thank you so much. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Insecure Rocker with Purple Leather Jacket Collection!!! -sigh- i wish i could find an insecure rocker of my own...

John said...

Apryl, I just wanted to know that your blog is being read with great interest, at least by me. I know a few Bulgarians here in the States, and I have a pen pal there as well.

I only came across your blog a few weeks ago, but I started from the beginning and just caught up to your current posts. I think you're doing a wonderful job there, and it was very interesting to me to learn more about the social and cultural aspects of living in Bulgaria from an American.

Всичко най-хубаво,