This is going to be one of my shorter posts, but i'm in the mood to write so here it goes. As mid-service approaches, I look out on the past 10 months with a smile and with a frown. There is no doubt I have done a lot with my time here. I have seen many things, met some great people along the way, and tried my best to do what I came here to do. While that is so, I have this uneasy feeling that I am not doing enough and that I'm not satisfied with the work I have done thus far. Personally, I have made much larger advances towards changing who I was before I came. As I am grateful for this, I am still as uneasy about this as I am my work. There are times when I amaze myself by not getting annoyed at something that would throw me over the edge in the states, or simply moving on and realizing things aren't a huge deal when I would have blown things way out of proportion in the states. But then I get those moments where I see myself doing the same old shit I would in the States and its somewhat depressing. I am at this crossroads in my service where I need to make some decisions, act on those decisions, and see where that takes me in the next year.
The most pressing is the matter of my work in Cambodia as a health educator. I give health talks in the health center and I teach health classes in the high school once or twice a week, but I need to be doing a whole lot more. I don't have this shining project most volunteers have started developing and I am starting to need something like that to keep me wanting to be here and keep my morale up. Some volunteers have some amazing projects in the works, and while I must keep on telling myself its irrational to compare myself to others, I do realize that one or two projects would be nice and benefit the community greatly. I try and analyze what these people need and what will benefit them in the long run and I am at a loss for words. Building wells would be good, but what would building 5-10 wells in the community really do for everyone in the long run. I want to do something that is going to benefit the majority of people and continue in the long run. Building wells or getting water filters for the community helps a specific group of people and in the end its not going to help the people as whole improve the quality of their health. I have ideas up in the head that are simply just ideas at the moment, but I need to make a decision and act on it or my happiness and self-fulfillment are going to decline, which is bad for a foreign volunteer in the middle of a Cambodian village.
As far as personal change, I need to find it within myself to make the most out of this experience and make some hardcore changes that will improve the quality and duration of my happiness and self imposed value of this experience. I find myself getting depressed a lot recently, whether its because of the way people are behaving in this country, my lack of personal friendships, or my unease about not doing enough and making the most out of this time. I have to realize that I am only living in Cambodia for 2 years (maybe) and this opportunity is something I will always look back on. What I do now is going to determine how I look back on this and I will be damned if I spend it moping about what is not perfect and what I could be doing better. I used to run off the idea that things happen for a reason. Sometime during the last 10 months I forgot about that ideology and turned towards wondering why why why. Just accepting that things happen for a reason, even if its not apparent at first, is such a wonderful way of going about things and I think thats what I'm going to start doing again. I need to continually look at things in a positive way instead of negative, which I have doing a lot more since coming here, but there's always room for improvement!
Now for the heavy. To return or not? I have been meddling with this idea in my head for a while and now I think its time to let people know whats going on inside the white/grey matter (yea i know... im a dork). As I spend more and more time here, Cambodia is becoming a home I don't want to leave. I could tell you about all the positives this country has to offer in a whole new post and while there are definitely negatives, I love every minute here for the most part. I haven't been cold in 10 months, every night and day during rainy season massive storms roll throughout the country-side, I can look out my window and enjoy a jungle full of palm and coconut trees, and the people are some of the friendliest I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I am helping these people get healthier, one talk at a time and I love doing what I do. I am experiencing a culture I find very fascinating and awesome to be apart of. There's rarely any kind of stress like I used to endure in America and I know that what I am doing is effective and worthwhile. I have always wanted to help people, learn about other cultures, and see other lands so why should I give that all up to come home and bury my head in books for the next 4 years? I have all these skills that any NGO worker would kill to have so why not use my talents for the betterment of Cambodia health care?
Thats my argument for staying, but then there's the argument of why I should definitely come home, or atleast travel to another region in the world. I have a wonderful family back home and some amazing friends that i have surrounded myself with throughout the years. While I know they would be happy for me in whatever I decide to do, I don't know if I could live with myself if I just up and left and never came back. I did have a great life back home and if I really do want to come back to Cambodia I can always do the whole doctor without boarders thing after becoming a doctor. While living in the States does have its negatives, I have come to realize that it is definitely the best damn country there is out there and there's a reason why people love the USA. So friends, family, and becoming a doctor would be a great path to follow... right?
The middle ground I have come to learn of is extending my stay. There is this option I can take to extend for another year and that is something I am deeply considering. While 2 years may not be enough, I think by the 3rd year it will be out of my system and I might finally be ready to go home. Still not sure about this yet for a variety of reasons, but its being thought about heavily. In 6 months I have no idea what will be happening or what I will be feeling so for now I am putting these thoughts of post-peace corps service aside and focusing on whats here and now.
So that's it. I have a huge desire to do something special and help improve health care in the Cambodian villages, Peace Corps has given me the opportunity to accomplish this and now its just up to me what happens from here on out. There's no study guide for this, no class syllabus to follow, and no friend to study with to make it better. Its just me and my ideas and I have to make them a reality.