Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Un-measuable Impact Plus Village Pics

My School

My sister walking up to my house

My families kitchen, my room is off the hall on the right

My Bathroom

One of the craziest things about being here is how different it is then not only any job in America but also so different than one expects coming into the Peace Corp. When you sign up images of building schools, digging wells, or inoculating children come to mind, not really teaching English. Then on top of that unlike any teaching or for that matter, any job in America, there is really no goals or expectations set for us as volunteers except, make it. The main thing we are all aiming for is just to make it, to survive for two years. Obliviously we all come here to do good but that is such an abstract goal that mentally it doesn't really factor in. In America everything is about working toward a tangible goal, something that will create, an end product, something that can be measured and put into some cost benefit analysis. The very nature of the job here goes completely against this way of thinking. I am here and seventy five percent of the “good” I'm doing is through just being here. Through exposure the children are not only learning English, but about the world and more importantly that learning can be fun. I'm so used to the idea of work being work. This feels easy and fun not at all like work and to add to that I'm not producing anything tangible. You can see how it’s hard to justify this as work when it misses two of the basic definitions of work in America. This does interesting things to your head and makes you ask you’re self what you are really doing. Then something wonderful happens and you remember. For me this was a moment at Church when the pastor encouraged everyone to get up and hug each other. I was sitting with the young adults so it was a recipe for extreme awkwardness. After a couple minutes of just standing there a couple of the teens shook my hand. It seemed this was going on forever and I was counting the seconds till I got to sit down again. Then from across the church one of my students caught my eye and took a couple of steps toward me before stopping herself. It would be both inappropriate and awkward for a Samoan student to hug a Samoan teacher as they are such disciplinarians and dictators in the classroom. I motioned her forward and she ran across the church and gave me a big hug. Some of my other students saw her and ran over as well. There ended up being a line of twenty kids all waiting to give me a hug and thank me for teaching them. I cried like a baby of course. It’s hard to measure smiles but that is what I'm producing here and I am learning that it is far more important then building some shiny new building.

1 comment:

  1. What a blessing that you are enjoying your "work". The tangible signs of what your are doing right now is in the hugs. Obviously you are making a difference in the lives of your students and maybe in their families. I guarantee that you will see tangible progress before you leave. Meeting goals in the American work world is sometimes pointless, making a difference in the lives of people and you never know where it might take them or you. Love you, cousin, hang in there.