I got to thinking about the Peace Corps motto the other day. “The hardest job you’ll ever love.” I guess it was because there have just been frustrations recently with how much good I can actually achieve here. I can’t compare to other countries, but there are many times it feels like the work I’m trying to do is not always appreciated or wanted, and have heard some of these feelings from other volunteers as well. Not all of them, some have wonderful jobs at their sites and love them. But as I was thinking about it (I was on a marshrutka going to a club) I remembered that is probably part of the challenge. I don’t know how my physical challenges stack up to someone serving in Africa or South America, but I deal with my own challenges here and struggles. Some of them are entrenched in the culture, and some are entrenched in me.
In less than three months will mark my being in the country for two years. I am not the same person I was when I came to Ukraine. Or maybe I am, but have been able to find parts of me that have been brought out by the circumstances here and challenged my true self to expose itself. One thing I have already begun to realize and start to plan for is how will I incorporate this experience into my future life. Peace Corps is great at helping people try out things and truly find what they like and are good at, at least it has been for me.
I came to Ukraine with a background in newspapers and little experience working with youth, despite what PC may have thought by putting me in a Youth Development program. I haven’t been able to “save” each kid I’ve worked with, and haven’t even been able to make friends with each student I’ve worked with, but I can hope I have at least influenced some of them to look at different options in their life and help expand their horizons. I came to Ukraine with conflicting ideas of what I wanted to accomplish here, I told myself if I can change at least one kid for the better I will consider it a success and then got caught up in the idea that somehow I should try and influence every student I encounter. The true goal should be somewhere in between, I can’t help, nor does every student want to work with me or want my help. But hopefully what I have been able to do thus far is help some students who have looked for experience to show them something new.
In the remaining months I have left here (it is counted in months now and not years), what I think I will try to focus on is that. There are students who want to work with me; I need to recommit myself to that.
So in closing, I struggled with the idea of if I truly love my job with PC. In the end, I think I do. There is no other job I would prefer to be doing now. There are struggles, but when I put them in context with other jobs I’ve held, they aren’t necessarily harder. And while I don’t always get daily satisfaction with what I do, I do have great days that I can look back and feel some sense of accomplishment, even if I don’t know the exact result of them. Peace Corps is unlike any job I think can be taken, as it is so flexible and dependent on the individual. This can be extremely stressful, because there is not much of a safety net to fall into. But it can be fulfilling in that part as well. It isn’t a permanent job (thankfully) and I will be ready for whatever step is next after Peace Corps. But yes, I do think this is by far the hardest job, and I do love it.