Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nearing the end


I can see it now – the end of training and the beginning of my 2 years of service. All 36 of us are ready to go – even the 5 or so that haven’t yet reached their French level. While our tolerance for all the assignments, classes, and schedules is diminishing, we’re not taking for granted the fact that we’re only together for a little while longer and all get along great. Last weekend a few people organized a night of Mexican food. We had salsa, guacamole, refried beans, fajita meat, and homemade tortillas. We’ve gotten together a few times to watch movies on people’s laptops. We celebrated somebody’s birthday last night by going out to a nightclub (Boîte de Nuit in French translates literally to Night Box). And tonight I organized a night of Italian food. We had spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce (we were going to have pesto too, but the blending didn’t quite work out) and fresh baguettes to dip in garlic and olive oil. We also made makeshift s’mores in a frying pan and banana bread.

Even though training is dragging on and, on one level, I’m sick of being here, I am kind of proud of where I’ve come. The biggest achievement is my language proficiency. Being able to communicate just about anything I want in French is really empowering. While I can’t understand people who speak fast and/or mumble, I’ve come a long way, and I’ll get there soon. As small business trainees we were all assigned companies to work with in town. I’ve already given my store written reports in French on an overview of their business functions, the need to write out specific goals and action plans, the need for accounting books and how to use them, and marketing strategies. I also just finished with my cross-cultural presentation, which was 25 minutes all in French, on how to prepare Bâton de Manioc, a gummy cassava side dish wrapped in banana leaves.

For a while, life was pretty normal. Now I’m back to feeling all these different emotions at once – proud, frustrated, happy, sad, excited, nervous, ready, and scared. I also feel like my life has a purpose and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here at the same time too.

One thing I’m looking forward to is down time. I hear we’ll have a lot of it. Getting my meditation/spiritual practice back in order is high on my priority list. I think that will help a lot with getting my emotions straightened out. I know there will be hard times in the next two years, but having a better focus will help me get through them.

So that’s where I’m at this week. I hope everyone’s in good health and happiness back home.


1 comment:

Chris Hiller said...

Hi Tim,

Good luck when you head out for your assignment. It has been interesting reading about some of your adventures to this point. Seeing your pictures made me miss my own time in Africa - which was shorter than yours has already been, but still a wonderful time.