One of the most helpful pieces of paper I was given during Peace Corps training was a line graph that charts the emotional ups and downs Peace Corps Volunteers typically experience in relation to their time in country. Thanks to this chart, I can look at a specific time period of service and see if that is typically a time when PCVs find themselves feeling overall happy or overall depressed.
For example, right in months 1-4 of service, there’s a big low period, thanks to adjusting to your permanent site, work being slow to start and general homesickeness.
Guess who is just finishing month one…
Now, it’s not to say that every single Peace Corps Volunteer follows the exact pattern described by the graph, but since arriving in T–, I’ve definitely hit a much more defined low period than I have since arriving in country in January. While I was out of my mind excited to be in my final site, I was also experiencing feelings ranging from “Holy crap what am I doing here” to feeling like everything was impossible to get started to just plain frustration. Not every day of the past month has been bad, but there has been a definite overall down feeling. And on top of that I have been recovering from not one but two epic infections that I will not describe here, suffice it to say today was my final doctor’s appointment in Agadir and he says I’m good to go!
Luckily, I remembered my chart and realized this was a normal part of my adjustment process. Often knowing that I feel bad for a reason is enough to keep me from getting too down on myself. I’ve heard lots of stories from other volunteers who described feeling bad about themselves just because they were feeling low, and since Peace Corps service was a long-time dream of theirs, felt they should just be happy because they were actually doing it. So I’ve been taking things one day at a time and just trying to do something positive every day.
I’m not sure if it’s too soon to say I’m coming out of that slump, because it’s definitely possible I’ll continue my slump for a bit, but the past two days have been amazing.
Since spring camp ended, Liz and I have been attempting to set up our lives here in T–, a process which can take a long time in the United States, but takes even longer with a much greater reliance on other people if your language skills still do not rival those of a four year old. So we’ve been attempting to get our residency papers, attempting to find an apartment, attempting to mail stuff at the post office without waiting 2 hours in line (I still haven’t succeeded in this), and attempting to set up a schedule for ourselves at the Dar Chebab and women’s club.
While I haven’t conquered the post office yet (I guess the trick is to go really early in the morning and get your number like at the Department of Motor Vehicles), we have recently started making process with the other things. The authorities have our residency papers paperwork and tomorrow we are getting our potential apartment checked out by a Peace Corps representative. Our first day of language tutoring is also tomorrow.
The biggest news, however, is we have happily stumbled on a counterpart – a host country national who helps PCVs accomplish projects. In our case, she is one of our fellow counselors at camp, speaks excellent English and is really excited about working with youth. Plus she’s someone who can be a friend here in T–, which may be the most important thing of all in this situation.
Thanks to her help, we had a great meeting with the director of the women’s club today and are set to start teaching English lessons to the ladies there. And we’ve also set up a time at the Dar Chebab to start some activities there, so suddenly everything seems to be moving forward.
It might be that everything will fall through once again, so I’m not anticipating trouble-free days for the rest of my service. That would be a ridiculous expectation, because you can’t anticipate a trouble-free life anywhere. But progress has been made. And I am content with that.