10 January 2011

2 Cups Flour, 1 Tbsp. Perspective

It's sad to say that, after only 5 months, I think I'm already at the point where I'm so inundated with the short-term, day-to-day, that it's hard to separate out the big picture of what I'm trying to accomplish here.  Where I should be thrilled with the notion that I am serving as a cog in a bigger machine (albeit of very slow-moving progress), content to make note of accomplishments when my time here is done, I can't help but wonder here and now if the small things I'm doing every day are making any real, permanent difference to the institutions I'm working with. 

I guess another way of putting the same thing is, I'm losing the battle with putting aside my own expectations of what progress is in social development work here in the Eastern Caribbean.  As I pointed out during PST, this is one of the top three challenges that I anticipated before starting my service, in conjunction with perpetual loneliness and being singled out or mistaken for a tourist or student because of my difference in appearance.  At the time, I identified two primary mechanisms for relieving these anxieties: spending time in prayer and the Word, and sharing in deep conversations with peers.  One has quickly dropped off in frequency (blame the Internet) and the other is lacking in several necessary parts.  The result is an unfortunate inability to appropriately deal with these psychological struggles, and a subsequent drop in efficiency in important things, like work and house maintenance.

This is, perhaps, an unfortunate realization coming up to my performance check-up scheduled for Wednesday.  I'm not particularly nervous, or anything, and I have my preparations for the meeting with my Institutional Point Person and my Assistant Peace Corps Director taken care of.  I'm just aware of my tendency to be very transparent, even when I try not to divulge certain details.  Heck, even my willingness to log these thoughts should be evidence of that.  But I chose long ago to err on the side of fully honest disclosure in all of my undertakings; a friend and mentor of mine once called this choice "a life without guilt."  There is some truth to this, to be sure.  I don't regret this guiding habit, but it would be untrue to suggest that it always leads me to the best option.  But that's a different post, perhaps.

There is a sign right across from my seat in my office, posted there by our Social & Life Skills adviser at the NSTP.  It reads, "Poverty of purpose is far worse than poverty of purse."  I don't know if you have to be in the Peace Corps to appreciate the wisdom of this reality, but I can say that all PCVs face this at some point in their service, perhaps those in the EC a little sooner than others.  It's part of the reality of working in the richest global region that the Peace Corps has any presence in: the perception that the good we can do here is, as often as not, regarded as limited.  And in my case, paired with an institution that has no cash flow to support daily operations, this can occasionally be doubly so.

The good side to all of this is that I've identified another method of achieving a temporary morale boost: cooking!  Thanks in large part to the hours I spent with my ex-fiancée in the kitchen, observing and participating where I could, I picked up a lot of helpful techniques to ensure some level of sustained success in my culinary endeavors, ambitions that I never knew I had.  But I've come to find out that I am so proud of my newly-evolving abilities that I have added a list of the dishes most deserving of praise to the front page of this blog.

Reservations for Château du CEC are now being accepted, but you'll have to call soon – seats are going fast!

No comments:

Post a Comment