Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No Rest for the Weary

I’m still a very busy girl. I’m going to try and catch you all up on what’s been happening, but I’ll probably miss some things, and I’ll only hit the bigger things that I remember. A couple of Fridays ago, the Youth Development Trainees and I went to visit a home for children with mental disabilities and a boarding school for delinquents. It was a long day, but most of the trainees seemed to like it. The boarding school was pretty modern and the children seemed well cared for. The director of the place was very nice. I think she might even be younger than I! The Trainees asked a lot of good questions, and we got to see how donors (like the largest mobile operator in the country) have taken care of the place. Most of the Trainees were really active and loving with the kids. That was nice to see. The boarding school was an informative visit, but only in theory. We didn’t get much time to interact with the kids. The staff was nice enough to answer all our questions, but it would have been more useful to see and talk to the kids as well. The best part was the bus that half of us took to the nearby village where the boarding school resides. It looked like an old, Russian, war-era van. I don’t even know how to describe it, but it would have been pretty scary were it able to go over 30 mph. Fun times!
Over the weekend, I decided to go to Rakitovo. Yanko had been calling and asking when I’d be coming. “How can you work so much? Don’t they know that you need a break? We need to see you.” So, I went. Fortunately, I think I mentioned that I have a colleague from the next town over, so I caught a ride with her. It was a good visit. There’s never enough time to see all the people that you want to see, and there are always others who complain that you never stay long enough, but… it’s good to feel loved. It was a good break. Vratsa is a great town, but I love my Rhodope mountains.
Last week was exhausting. We had sessions all day at HUB on Monday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Program Staff and I traveled around each of the satellite sites to do Feedback and Permanent Site Placement Interviews. I had to go to two community meetings in two different satellites on Wednesday evening. I even interpreted for one of them. I then had another community meeting in a distant satellite on Thursday after working at the office all day. On Friday, I had to go to Sofia for the Permanent Site Placement meeting. Then, the driver raced back so that I could attend another community meeting. On Saturday, I hit my wall. We had more sessions during something we call “Clusters.” I was supposed to talk about Project Design and Management. I didn’t even know what I was talking about anymore – I was so tired. The Trainees all had a glazed-over look. They said that they were tired. The volunteer who was helping out saved the day. He did a good job. Otherwise, I think the session was almost a bust. We’re all just so tired. There’s only so much working from sun up to sundown that I can do.
After the session, I went out to lunch and did some shopping with some of the Trainees. I like hanging out with them in that atmosphere. I can’t always play the role of “Trainer” and feel so distant from them. I think they sometimes forget that I was once a volunteer myself. They’re a great group of kids, but the best compliment that I’ve gotten so far is the following: They thought that I was here for the next two years, but I informed some of them that my contract ends and I leave after training. Some of them were visibly disappointed. “Aw, that sucks,” said one. Makes me feel good.
Program Staff has been pretty good about letting me know that I’m doing a good job. I have an ongoing joke with the Program Assistant because we’ve just known each other for so long. He started out by kidding with me about how disappointed he was that I was given the job of Technical Trainer and how he didn’t like working with me. A few weeks later, he was saying in mixed company how I should apply for a job with Peace Corps somewhere as a Program Training Officer. I laughed about that and told him that I could neither believe one or the other. I must fall somewhere in the middle. Others have suggested that I start thinking about working for Peace Corps. I’m not really looking to do that at the moment, but… maybe someday.
I was on the news again. A local journalist wanted to cover one of the community meetings. It went well – except that I blanked out a couple times. She thought it was great, and I guess it was broadcast on some network. Some of the Trainees saw it, but I haven’t seen it. I joked with them and asked if I looked good. Apparently I did.
On Saturday, my friend Greg called to inform me that he’s going back to the states this week. I thought that he would be staying to the end of July. We even had tentative plans to travel together after my contract ends. It turns out that there was a bunch of misunderstandings with the school he works for, and he’s going back this week. I hopped on a train to Sofia and spent Sunday with him. I can’t believe he’s going. I’m going to miss him.
Angel was supposed to come help out with some of the sessions regarding Roma, but he’s going to Turkey for a month to study English. It sounds crazy, but it sounds like a lot of fun. I’m happy for him.
The Trainees find out their permanent sites, i.e. where they will be living for the next two years, on Thursday. I already know, and I’ve known since last Friday. They know that I know, and some of them have been teasing me about it – trying to figure out a way to get it out of me. I just hold it over their heads and relish the information I have. Knowledge is power.
And that’s about it. I’m still very busy, but I’m happy. I like my job. It can be a bit overwhelming at times and I certainly wish I had some more free time. But hey… at least I love my job.

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