Time sure does have a way of sneaking away from you. I have been with PC for 8 months now, and 1/4 of my service has vanished in the blink of an eye. I have 18.5 months left in PC…546 days….82 weeks. It is a reminder that my time here will be over before I know it.
This means making the most of the projects I have started to either see them to completion, or ensure long-term sustainability. And if in 2 years things did not go as planned, I changed the mindsets of people. I created change. Even if the fruits of my hard work are not seen for five years down the road, I know I planted the seed and there are people here to take care of it and watch it grow. That is the best thing you can do during your service, make an impact big or small, actively share culture, and enjoy the experience.
I take a look back when I first came to site. Whenever I would go into the market I was apprehensive. I was alone and I stood out. Now I can navigate the market with ease, bargain fair prices and sometimes even stop for a friendly chat with someone I know. I was also nervous about living day-to-day, but I have found establishing routines is crucial. Laughing more helps, especially at yourself. I have found my comfort at site, and have successfully made it through the first months with confidence in the months to come. I have a strong understanding of my community and how hard it is to live here. I have developed a patience and go-with-the-flow attitude that makes me less focused on immediate results and more on the bigger picture. How one day can make a big difference or a little one, but a difference none the less. And that life keeps going. You just have to carry on in each moment and not let the worst of times get to you.
My time here has given me a fresh perspective. You can live without normal, everyday comfort and not be deprived.
Don’t get me wrong, I miss things from home, maybe a lot of things, but I do currently live in a third world country. Modern things we take for granted like…
– Fast food / delivery
– Food variety )
– Washing machine / dryer
– Reliable internet ( I am fortunate to have good internet)
– “Clean” running water (I have seen running water, I can’t verify it is sanitary)
– Swimming pools (It is very hot here, and you can’t.. shouldn’t..swim in the lake)
– Friends (to hang out with and chill at home) & Family (to enjoy holidays with)
– Health inspectors / health codes (it is a thing)
– Cold weather / SNOW
– Accessible health care (including vets)
– Easily available outdoor recreational activities (camping, hiking, skiing, parks, shooting, etc..)
– Ability to drive myself in a motorized vehicle (it would make traveling sooooo much easier and quicker, plus not dragging luggage through cramped transportation)
There are things I am lucky to have and make the transition of living here easier…
– Less rural area / decent selection of goods in town
– Very close to a major city ( my once a month “American” day in the city) – Working for a great organization / plus awesome counterparts
– Cozy little house
– My puppy…a constant companion, snuggler, and security system – Bits and pieces from home (pictures, cards, American flag, inspirational calendar)
– My laundry lady (I finally caved and now hire someone to do my laundry)
– Good beer
There are things I miss, but they are balanced with the things I am very lucky to have. Having pictures and cards to put on the walls definitely helps and creates a little sanctuary I can retreat to whenever Kenya overwhelms me and I need closeness of home. What I could do without in Kenya…
– mystery illnesses
– mosquito bites
– random bug bites and skin issues
If I had to identify the hardest thing about PC to the next group of volunteers coming in, I would definitely say… Isolation.
I’m sure you have heard it. I am sure you are preparing for it. But it is more than just not being around peers, friends and family. It is being isolated as an outsider in a new culture. It is the isolation from things that are familiar.
Between the months I am planning different fun trips, a week here, weekend there. That way I am not constantly cooped up in a village working. I have to stretch my adventure legs and work out my camera!!