Thursday, June 10, 2010

What is hard about being a volunteer?

Peace Corps applicants recently nominated for a program, asked on their blog, "What is the hardest part of being a volunteer?"

For me it has been the stress I create for myself because of my personal reactions towards different practices within the culture. Every volunteer has certain things that frustrate them. They are not the same for everyone.

For me in Africa, I hmm.... didn't have many moments of frustration. Or have I just forgotten?
  1. Catching students who cheat annoyed me.
  2. aggressive sellers in the market and getting cheated by taxi drivers and merchants
In China, I feel like I have had many more moments of frustration:
  1. catching students who cheat and plagiarize (I later realized that teachers here don't usually care and are not out to try to catch cheaters. It has sort of made it easier, but still I react negatively to cheating.)
  2. not being told what I feel is important information (For example, not being told that a course I am teaching will have no final or grade.)
  3. being told I am not allowed to do something like travel
  4. having an erratic schedule that is full of unknowns with instant changes (For example, I often receive phone calls, "Come now." Drop everything and come now. It is important.)
Some people say that the hardest parts about being a volunteer are
  1. too much free time
  2. the slow progress of getting anything accomplished
  3. having to redefine success because it isn't the same as it is in America
Maybe I have been a volunteer too long which is why I've learned how to deal with the above three reasons.

How do I deal with my frustrations? I talk about them, write about them, try my hardest to let them go, and sometimes go on a bike ride or a run. Usually a good night's sleep will wash away my stress.

2 comments:

astronomerpc said...

Thanks!

astronomerpc said...

Thanks!