Friday, March 16, 2012

And if you believe in love, then free up your mind, let this flow within

I suppose I have a reached a turning point in my Peace Corps service as well as in my life. As I reach the one year mark, I thought things would get easier; I also thought things would be different.  Accepting the reality of your service and coming to terms with the fact that it is nothing like you imagined (this inevitably happens to all PCVs) has been difficult, but not entirely unwelcomed. And although I have begun to feel as though SVG is my home now and this is where I belong and I am starting to feel ‘integrated’, other aspects of my experience/life seem to be spiraling out of control.  In particular, my primary work assignment. I feel inadequate, incompetent, or feel as though I lack the necessary skills, or unable to relate to and manage the students.  Either I do something that I feel competent and comfortable teaching, and have no control over the classroom, or I try to teach something I have no passion for and no skills to teach, but have full control over the students, as it is a one on one setting. Either I conform to the ‘local’ beliefs (sacrificing my own), or I continue to be disrespected and feel helpless, hopeless. It’s a lose lose situation all around. No matter what I do, I lose.  If I conform, I feel horrible about myself.  If I stand for what I believe, I get no where. I don’t feel like I am making an [positive] impact in either scenario. I constantly feel as though I have no support. I feel neglected and unappreciated by both students and staff. I am hurt. I am confused. I am fed up. Above all, I am sad.
Every one has a breaking point.  Normally (what is normal, anyways?) I would have said my breaking point would have been a long long time ago.  I have been (in my opinion) doing an outstanding job at keeping an optimistic as well as a realistic outlook (or so I thought), focusing only on the positives and getting creative in addressing issues that I am faced with. But there comes a point when you can no longer deal with it all. I think I have reached that point. I constantly am faced with circumstances that never once crossed my mind. Never once did I think of these things. Not once. How na├»ve I was! I am exposed to circumstances that no one should ever have to consider let alone live through (and I'm not talking about me-I am merely made aware of them, and for me that is enough). I am faced with heartbreak everyday.  I am made aware of hurt, despair, anguish, and issues that never cross our privileged little minds. Things, even when we reach our deepest, darkest moments, do not even compare to the things that people face in other parts of the world. Having to make unthinkable, unimaginable decisions. There is so much beyond my control; a feeling I really really dislike, but have grown used to.  At times, I have lost all hope.  It is easy to lose motivation when you are surrounded by apathy and such hopelessness. But alternatively, that gives me motivation and the drive to instill the hopes and dreams I have for my students in them. I believe in them.
However, the constant barrage starts to take a toll on you.  On one hand, these issues are the exact reason why I decided to pursue Peace Corps-to a degree.  However, the issues are exacerbated by the circumstances. And I feel helpless, powerless. Something must change. What that is, I dont know as yet.
I believe in love. I really have grown to love these students, even though they probably dont know it or wouldnt believe it. I love my work and my purpose. And I will continue to show them love and respect and the love I have for them. And I believe that goodness will prevail.  I will not let these feelings get me down and I will continue to have an open mind. I will let all the positivity flow freely within me and out into the world. And in return, I will openly accept and reflect on anything that comes my way.


  1. I'm so glad you're sticking to it. I have also worked in a situation where I felt like everything I did was wrong, that I was fighting against my students nature to teach them, and at the same time being barraged from all sides telling me I'm terrible. It's tough. There's nothing I can say that will make it easier except that you have to stick by what you believe and know that even if you don't see it, you matter. In the end, when your service is over and you've moved on to something new, you'll look back and feel mixed emotions, but mostly you'll know that you did all that you could.
    Keep your chin up. Everything has a start and an end, and you will make it through.


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  3. It is a moment of despair when the innocence of youth is seized from you and you realize how much of the world is filled with petty cruelty and pointless suffering. Though you may feel hopeless, a powerless observer of that unstoppable suffering, know that your love, your optimism, and your sacrifice acts as a beacon of hope to those you are helping. It is rare for one idea to change the world, rarer still for one person to effect such a feat, but I know you can reach through to your children.

    My boss always says, "Only hard problems are worth solving." There is much truth in that phrase. These difficult times will mold you into a stronger, wiser person: empathetic to the plight of others, understanding of different realities, and patient in your demands. You are strong enough to succeed.

    Forgive me for leaving you with this quote, but G.Greene is one of my favorite writers. Take solace in your despair:

    "Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim. It is, one is told, the unforgivable sin, but it is a sin the corrupt or evil man never practices. He always has hope. He never reaches the freezing-point of knowing absolute failure." --Graham Greene