August 9, 2009
Three Types of Volunteers
My friend, the assistant to our Country Director recently told me volunteers, after a sufficient time at site, fall into one of three social categories. They either hang out mostly with fellow volunteers, surround themselves with locals or a combination of the two. I fall into the second category. I correspond with one volunteer. She lives in a village in Naryn and one of the many things we have in common is she doesn't keep company with the vols in her oblast, either. The reasons that we don't differ, but we've both found contentment in having all Kyrgyz and Russian friends.
She was victimized by a false rumor (the #1 activity of PCVs is gossiping). I simply decided not to spend my two years of service chumming around with people I can find in Brooklyn. Additionally, I have little in common with know-it-all 22 year-old white males. I was one at one time. You may say I have even less in common with my Kyrgyz friends, but I would disagree. We share a sincere desire to learn about each other's culture. The biggest obstacle I face is their age. Most of them are early 20's and their life experience is limited. In spite of this, they've enlightened me in many ways.
The volunteer in Naryn (hereafter referred to as “N”) and I messaged constantly and spoke on the phone often. I found her a refreshing voice in the sea of GenXer’s. She lived in a village so didn’t have volunteers around her like I did and enjoyed her Kyrgyz family and friends. I felt she was ok with that, very similar to me.
I never intended to look for or find a girlfriend in the PC, either a volunteer or Kyrgyz national. I wanted to fulfill my service and move on, but as the universe often overrules our wants and desires, I developed an attraction to N, and when we had group meetings, I truly cherished the opportunities to talk face to face. I sensed that she might have felt the same for me, but I wasn’t sure. In time we spoke of meeting in Bishkek to hang out for a weekend.
In the book: Did we meet or did I chicken out?