Jack of All Trades, Master of None

The education trainees are back in the schools for practicum, and the omnibus trainees (those who will work in the other program sectors) are out on field trip to see what exactly their jobs will entail. Meanwhile, I sit here, contemplating what it means to be a volunteer while I watch the trainees teach and attend language classes.

It’s interesting, being back here. I originally compared it to visiting your old high school, but I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s not quite right. Being a PCVRF is kind of like going back to your old high school as a teacher; you know all of the good places to eat/drink/hang out, but you’re not a student anymore. You can observe, and commiserate, but you no longer share in the experience — you’re helping to provide others with a new experience of their very own.

And you also have the grown-up problems that come along with being an honest-to-jeebus dirty-hippie PCV. For example, you’re now expected to take care of yourself; no host family to feed you, do your laundry, or help you with your homework. And you’re still at someone else’s house.

In addition, I’ve been living out of my backpack for going on three weeks now, and while I enjoy watching the new trainees learn and grow, I’m ready to get back to my own bed in my own village. My students, though I’ve given them work to do in my absence, are definitely suffering for not having an ICT teacher. And my cat has now been living outside since the end of June.

One of my fellow education PCVs said something that really applies to this situation: “There are terms you spend at your school, and there are terms you spend doing stuff for Peace Corps. You don’t have both. It’s one or the other.” I didn’t quite understand that until now. When I came here, I thought I’d be serving the people in my village and relying on Peace Corps to help me do that. It turns out that I’m actually serving two communities: the people of Seikwa, and the motley crew of Peace Corps Volunteers.

There’s no way to do service to the one without giving the other short shrift; so I do the best I can and pick the one I think needs the most help at the time.

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I'm just this guy, you know?