23 August 2011

Contentedly discontent.


Before I start on the ‘real’ stuff, I just have to say this: I’m fucking in love with Kyrgyzstan. This place is so beautiful; it takes my breath away pretty much every day. Guys, I WISH you could see this place. The mountains are stunning. The colours are incredible. It’s completely not the same, but at times it reminds me of Africa – the raw, basic lifestyle that just works and the intense appreciation of everything around its people. Yeah, right now it’s hot as balls, but summer’s breaking, so I’m hoping that it’ll get more comfortable. I never thought I’d say this, but I am SO excited for fall and winter to come around. My camera is already excited about the kinds of pictures I’ll be able to take during those two seasons. EEE! :)

Now for the thinking. This past week has been a really interesting one in terms of my headspace.

There was a point during the camp I worked in Issyk-Kul (the oblast with the giant-ass lake) when I was so damn content with life. I was sitting around a table entirely populated of Kyrgyz people, getting ready to break our fast for the day (only a week left of Ramadan!). These people didn’t know me, other than the fact that I was the crazy American fasting, and yet we were all brought together for this one purpose. As usual, they were all incredibly accommodating and hospitable, making sure I had enough plov (of course!) and chai. And despite the fact that I could only understand about 10% of the conversation – even with the PC safety and security coordinator, who was with her family vacationing at the lake, translating as needed – everyone just seemed so damn comfortable with each other. In that moment I felt so perfectly at ease. In that moment I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else doing anything else; I was in exactly the right place at the right time.

I think that this feeling was further compounded at the end of camp when we were saying goodbye to the students. For the majority of the week I didn’t really feel like I was doing much with the kids. Yeah, I was being more normal silly, effervescent self whenever I was around them – as you should while at camp! – but I wasn’t really needed a lot of the time. That was fine ‘cause I am now that much closer to finishing Game of Thrones by George RR Martin [So goddamn good! I highly recommend it to pretty much everyone. And the HBO version is actually not that bad and stays quite true to the book! Also, let’s be honest about this: that cast is fucking beautiful.], but I didn’t feel quite as accomplished as I did after other camps. However, I guess in the little time I spent with them, I got through to at least a few of them? I’m not quite sure how it happened.

After camp, these two girls came up to me and handed me little notes they had had translated from Russian and they rewrote in English. The notes themselves were sodding adorable. Not quite perfect English, they had written about how much fun they had with me, how they were sad they had to go, how much they had learned from me, how much they appreciated my working with them, and that they hoped we’d meet again in the future. I’m not doing their notes justice because they’re priceless, but I don’t want people thinking this is the Sarah’s-The-Best Show… Those two notes, along with the impromptu photo shoot I was forced into with some other students, really helped me come to terms with the fact that this is really happening. I really am in the Peace Corps for two years and this is my life. Hit me upside the head, but I think I really needed to hear that. I’m here to do good work and the fact that people (for the most part) want me to be here.

Conversely, I also get these incredibly vivid moments when I want nothing more than to be out with friends and to start the process of being a grown-up. I don’t know what is bringing these feelings around (I’ll probably just blame this one on Mike for moving), but they’ve been hitting me. Hard. There’s a tiny part of me that is so ready to settle down somewhere, for a time, and start life. Seeing Mike’s new apartment and hearing about how he’s starting fresh, makes me want that. I love and miss that feeling of finding a place and setting up house for the first time. That’s probably one of the ONLY times when everything I own is clean and in order. Haha.

Also, I miss the consistency and regularity of hanging out with friends or getting all gussied up and going out. Or having a pint at the bar, either with the girlies or just to watch a hockey game with the boys. I miss the adventures and stories that come with that. I know that by being here and doing this I’m creating more of those, they’ll just be of a different variety. But it’s not quite the same. I’m also always going through the ‘everyone is living their own grown-up lives and moving on, forgetting me, creating their own stories, having experiences I’m missing’ phase. I seriously need to get the fuck over my FOMO (fear of missing out); it’s quite debilitating sometimes.

Does any of this make sense?

I’ve also started getting quite excited/anxious about what I want to do after my service is over. I obviously want to travel as much as humanly (and financially) possible, but I have the rest of my life to really do that, right? I know that I want to: go back to Jambiani for another amount of time and work/teach/live there; take full advantage of a discounted tuition cost at Uni of Edinburgh for some kind of graduate program; live in Chicago again; live in London – why I’ve so recently become obsessed with this city, I don’t know – and try and find work (maybe photojournalism?). I’m seriously so pumped to start on all this stuff. But I constantly have to keep reminding myself that I’ve got two years to grow, change my mind, find new options, etc. Day at a time, Hopkins.

School starts next week. Still haven’t figured out my new housing situation. Needless to say, definitely starting to panic. Luckily with school, I’ve got a couple of weeks where I can just kind of observe my counterpart and input things as needed. Otherwise, I’d definitely not be sleeping – not that I’ve really been able to lately anyways… – and would be absolutely frantic. Speaking of which, do any of your teacher friends out there have advice for brand-new teachers? Things might be a little different solely because of different system, but I think the question still stands as far as student-teacher interaction, discipline, keeping teaching fun and fresh, etc. HELP ME. Literally any advice or suggestions you have would be fantastic!

Brain is dying at the moment, so I’ll try and wrap this up. Hope everyone’s summer was fantastic and that the first few weeks of school have been acceptable. I’ll be thinking of you when I’m standing in front of my first classroom scared shitless. ;) Know that I’m seriously thinking of you all every day and loving you.

Oh, a quick shout out to those who have managed to send me stuff: you have no idea how much it means to me and how much fun (no, really!) it is to write and send things back. If you’re that type of person, turn to the Dark Side and join the bandwagon; it’s comfier over here. Haha.
<3

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