|Up on the Roof|
I've just spent the better part of the past hour doing my laundry Cambodian-style. This involves buckets of soapy water, rinsing things out, moving them back and forth, squatting on the ground, killing your back, and then finally hanging them up on the line. The entire time I did this the sun was beating down on me, and the only happy thought I could come up with was that all that direct sun would help dry my clothes faster.
Naturally, now that I've pulled out my laptop, settled in on the rooftop terrace (also where the clothesline is) and started to relax, it is pouring rain. The kind of inexplicable rain where there are only 2 or 3 puffy clouds in the sky, the sun is still trying to burn me even though I'm sitting in the shade, and yet my clothes 10 feet away are getting drenched.
And yet, in spite of all this, right at this moment I'm living the dream. I'm sitting on a beautiful terrace in an exotic country, just me and my laptop. This is what we all dream about, isn't it? Blogging from foreign locales?
I'm both happy and sad to see my time in Cambodia come to an end so quickly. I've enjoyed the work I was given to do. And I am very grateful that Riverkids chose to work with my talents, rather than just stick me with the children. (There was a great deal of confusion when I first arrived. They thought I was here to teach English. When I had applied with Projects Abroad I made it abundantly clear I did NOT want to do that, hence the upsetting confusion those first few hours.) There would have been nothing wrong with caring for the children or teaching- and there are many volunteers here doing a great job of it. But there is something to be grateful and happy for knowing that you were able to use your best talents to help others. Did I imagine myself coming down here to write marketing plans for a shelter for sex workers? Nope. Pretty much the last thing I pictured! That wasn't what I had signed up for either, but I am very glad that is how things turned out.
I find that the real “trick” in traveling abroad, particularly when it comes to so-called intrepid travel, is to roll with the punches (deal with the traffic, roommates etc), accept things as they are (eat rice and then more rice), and make a difference when and where you can (and accept when you can't). But don't expect society and culture to change just for you.
It was good for me to get back into marketing again. For the few years all I have really known is that I wanted out of marketing as a career and into non-profit work via the Peace Corps. In other words, I wanted to make a difference, and stop marketing products I really didn't care about (ahem, cheap travel, dental x-ray machines, etc.) But being here has helped me see that I can use the talents I am the most familiar and best with to do the things I care the most about. And I think going forward that little lesson I have learned will be invaluable.
You see, I've been harboring a little secret for the past week. The Peace Corps and I may have be coming to an end in the next few weeks. This past week I was supposed to get the big final phone call telling me where I will be going. Instead, the phone call was a huge disappointment. More budget cuts, more program cuts, yada yada yada. I'm still accepted in the PC. But the program I was accepted for is shrinking rapidly. Optimistically, there is a small chance that within the next two weeks I will have that final placement, and have a departure date (which will happen no sooner than April). But? Realistically? Not going to happen. And if it doesn't happen by mid-October, they push me off again until February 2012, at which point ALL of my medical, dental, etc will have expired. I will have to re-do the entire freaking process, and then, in theory, they will not mess up my status again, and I will get a placement any time between June and Sept of next year. That is if they don't put a 3-6 month hold on my account again while re-clearing my medical.
So if it doesn't happen in the next 2 weeks, I'm dropping out. There, I've said it. And it feels good to just say it. I've been in this process for over a year. I never felt right about applying for other jobs, or accepting a full-time position somewhere knowing that I'd be leaving in just a few months. That wouldn't be fair to the company or other qualified job-seekers. But after a year without steady income, I just can't put my life on hold for the Peace Corps anymore. I'm a little too old for this. Way too old actually. I have to get back to a real job, real income, and a real future. I don't know what I will do to achieve my future goals without the Peace Corps, but I do think this is the right thing.
I do still want to join the Peace Corps, and maybe it will still happen in a few years from now. It is all I have thought about for the past 18 months. But I'm an adult with adult decisions and responsibilities to make. And while my career options seem limited to “paper or plastic” in this economy, it is time to get back to working on my future.
Until then, I have 4 days left in Cambodia. And I'm going to make the most of them. You never know how long it will be before another opportunity like this comes up.