Sunday, April 12, 2009

A fresh end, a new finish

I've been very slack about blogging so far this year. Since I only have three more months to share my experiences in Bulgaria with you I am going to make an attempt to blog every other week. I'm hoping I can follow through on this. So here's the first of the final installments:

Daily life here has become easier over the last two years. I no longer fear going to the grocery store or bumping into someone I'm supposed to know. The language comes easier, for the most part. The rhythm of life no longer seems foreign. And here I am about to leave and go back to a place where everything that was once so familiar will be foreign. It makes me think about staying... and then I think about the winter.
Leaving will be hard.

Today I wrote up an evaluation of my site and work situation. One of the questions just said "Electricity/Water Regime". Here is my answer:
"In the summer the water shuts off at least one day a week for the whole day. The longest it shut off was 5 days in a row, but in that span there was water for one hour every other night. In the winter it shut off less frequently, maybe once every other week. There's supposedly a radio broadcast saying when it will be shut off but I didn't know the station so I just kept two 11 liter jugs filled with water.
The electricity was pretty reliable. It went out in storms and sometimes for no reason at all, but it would usually come back on in a few hours."
It took me time to realize this wasn't normal, for you at least. Most of my friends in Bulgaria live in towns where their water shuts off almost daily during the summer and only runs for a few hours each night. So to me, I'm lucky.

There were two other answers that surprised me when I put them into words. "How strongly would you recommend your replacement by a new Volunteer?"
I feel like there is a lot of work that can still be done. The teachers are very open and receptive to new ideas... It amazes me the opinions that are stated as facts that no one questions. When I do question these 'facts' my colleagues and students are open to discussion, but have never considered that just because something was their opinion didn't make it fact. To continue this open dialogue another 'outsider' has to be brought in, because the 'insiders' are not given as much freedom of opinion or latitude for disagreement. My community was always supportive of me even when we disagreed. I'm afraid that if I'm not replaced all of the new ideas and opinions that have been introduced will be forgotten and everything will go back to the way it was before."
I have never been able to put into words my fears about leaving, but I think that's my biggest one. That I will not have made a lasting change.

The other question that I had never put into words before was:
"Do you feel that you have been successful in your assignment? Please explain."
"Yes and no. There is that which is possible and that which I desired to accomplish.
I think as far as what is possible- yes, I was successful. I integrated, made friends, shared ideas, exchanged cultures, taught students, and helped the students who desired to learn more learn.
What I desired to accomplish was far more difficult to measure and much harder to obtain. I wanted to change the mindset that racism is right, or even ok. That, I failed at. I hope that I may have made a few people start thinking a little more about a little differently though.

I know most people don't want to read the answers to my paperwork, but I figured just maybe it would help you see where I really am, what I'm thinking about, and how (even though I'm really looking forward to it) coming back to the USA is going to be difficult.

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