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December 3, 2010

I have heard it said, more than once, that timing is everything. How true that is. However, whomever it is, whether you call it Fate, or G-d, or whatever name, apparently has a sense of humor when it comes to me.

I’ll be honest, it has been a rough week, and the timing, on the eve of my birthday, could not be worse. Yeah I guess it could, but in the moment, it feels kind of crap.

It started out simply enough, on Monday, with me being in the middle of a turf argument as to where the English Club at the university would be.  On Tuesday I was again at the university, and arrived at 11:00 for a meeting, only to be told that I was expected to conduct a guest lecture on International Economics at 11:10, as well as the agreed-upon guest lecture on Strategic Planning at 12:40. I declined that “opportunity,” and explained that in my opinion, 10 minutes’ notice is not quite enough for me to prepare for a guest lecture on such a topic. I mean, had I been given even a day I could have done a bang-up job. But 10 minutes? Ummmmm….nope. Then of course, I look bad, but I had to take that chance.

Wednesday I was at my “primary” assignment for three hours, then off to the Technical College for a while, then off to the library to continue preparations for the Thursday program on anti-trafficking. Uneventful, overall. Though I was up late preparing. However, that afternoon I found out that my counterpart, who has been my counterpart for only two months, has accepted another job, which leaves me looking for a new organization. Again. I can honestly say that although I cannot blame her and I am sure it is an opportunity she could not refuse, I was more than a little dismayed. I mean, I JUST got to this organization two months ago, and already felt like I was a bit behind, and now I have to start all over again. I was talking to my Lead Specialist and told him that to be honest, it is a bit overwhelming to have to change organizations again. But what can I do but roll with it? Still, it is stressful. I honestly think that I will have some sort of Peace Corps Ukraine record for this – three organizations in eight months, and I will soon have to submit a new “Emergency Locator Form” after I get another new mailing address, which will make it my…sixth, I think. Oy.

Yesterday the program went well – we had three groups of students come to learn about human trafficking. Overall, just under a hundred students, I think. I was happy with how things turned out, and now just need to do the paperwork for it. Then, in the middle of a very stressful and difficult time, I was insulted by another PCV. In front of a group of people. Not. Cool.

This morning I arrived to find the budget for the SPA grant I have been working on (which has a deadline in six days) on my desk. In a hard copy. In Ukrainian. I looked at it and said “there is nothing I can do with this.” By that time, I was reaching my limit on what I could handle and stay cool.

I am being honest, as I always am in my blog, but am not telling the whole story, which I can never do in my blog. So suffice it to say there is more going on than I have written. But in all honesty, this morning, with everything piling on at once, all of the events, all of the stress, all of the happenings, and the insults, and language frustrations, I cried. Someone called me and said “hey how’s it going” and I broke down in tears. I have to admit it, it was too much for me.

And…as it seemed that things could not really continue to get worse (though honestly, I know they could), I went to give a presentation I had prepared, and…didn’t have the opportunity. I was told it would be a conference to recognize the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and it actually turned out to be a press conference. Which is fine. So I have materials prepared in case the opportunity ever arises again. Vika and I were able to talk a little bit about what was to happen next, and then, after the event was over, we went back into the room and were served champagne. Then we were invited to share in “buterbrod” which means more drinking. For me, more champagne. Can you blame me? It’s not like I got trashed, or I would not be able to type coherently. But I had a few glasses, which not only tasted rather good but has helped my spirits.

Of course, returning to a couple of e-mails from people saying “Maybe Ukraine isn’t for you, maybe you should go and do something else” did not help. I know I am not a happy-go-lucky person, as I have addressed in my blog previously. I know I am of a more melancholy nature. But my having a bad week, and one day where I think of throwing in the towel does not mean I am ready to do so in actuality. It means I am honest about struggling, and need support, not to be told “hey, maybe you should quit.” 

What’s wrong with being a more serious person, and being honest about my struggles? I am not trying to hide the fact that this is not an easy thing, what I am doing, and that there are times that I am really lonely, and really have a hard time. Part of it is my nature and part of it is, let’s be honest, the fact that I am living in a different country, struggling with the language, and my self-esteem takes a beating on a regular basis. But overall, I am still glad I am here. Struggles and all. I know that eventually, I will be able to do something meaningful and that I hope will leave a positive impression on people here. Even through my melancholy, I retain what many people see as a contradiction – my inherent hope that I can make a small difference, somehow.

So…timing. Things seem to pile up at once. Is it a test? I have had worse happen and not broken. It made me cry, yes, but I remain standing.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathy permalink
    December 3, 2010 6:58 am

    Karin: I hate to hear that you are struggling, but know that it will pass and you will continue moving forward to accomplish all that you have planned … There will always be a dark day here and there living so far away from home … But chin up and keep looking ahead … tomorrow is a new day 🙂

  2. Mom permalink
    December 3, 2010 10:50 am

    I know you hate to hear this, but the struggles DO make us stronger and somehow we experience happy relief once we are through them. That doesn’t mean they never happen again, though. After all, we are all human, right? “There is a greater reason” for all things that happen. Stay strong. Push forward. That’s what all great people do/have done. And you possess greatness. It got you there in the first place. You are immersed in a pool of humanity that is challenging. Don’t let it get you down. The nay sayers don’t like to hear about others’ problems because they can’t cope. You have a marvelous coping mechanism that will keep you going on. Thrive on it!! Use it to make you stronger! Smile at the negativity and know that you come from a positive environment which supports you. Use that marvelous humor and smile in the face of it. Know you are loved.

  3. December 3, 2010 12:17 pm

    For those that would say negative things to you – SCREW THEM. You are better than that. Focus on doing the best of your capabilities and when someone attempts to measure you in a different way, well, chalk it up to experience. That’s been many of the experiences I’ve had in the military (including most of my year in Iraq last year). The pep talk I had from a very competent leader (my SGM) was … SCREM THEM. Don’t ever let someone get under your skin. It’s like a game of chess… while they focus on one of your pieces, focus on their entire game.

  4. Anna Lvova permalink
    December 4, 2010 12:55 am

    Here in Ukraine i don’t know % of people who can struggle and which % tries to survive…. so you are from another world where system learned you struggle – you will survive here! I believe!
    Yes,Happy birthday!!!

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