When It Rains, It Pours

23 07 2012

Based on the title, this post could be about the monsoon season, which is currently in full force here in Cambodia. It could be about the downpours that leave me trapped with no protection but a rickety, old seller’s stall. It could be about the deafening storms that periodically keep me up at night. Or the way the rains interfere with classes or outings. But it isn’t. It’s about the ebb and flow of project work. And just like the weather in this country, the workload always seems to be at one extreme or the other.

It’s been interesting, if not altogether unique, to ride the waves of work the past nine months at site. Although people’s schedules and responsibilities go through cycles in the States too, for me it’s always been a different experience abroad. There’s something about the way time passes in a different country, and the way “work” is defined, that exaggerates both the slow and the busy times.

My newest mini-project: Teaching English to the neighborhood kids

Let’s take June as an example. June was a fairly slow month in terms of my workload. A decent portion of my day-to-day work had been taking place with students at the high school, but then exams hit and the students disappeared, some of them never to return. As a result, the things I was doing at the school – namely the girls’ club and Spanish classes – came to a screeching halt, and I was left to regroup. The exam process takes several weeks and it was very difficult to get in touch with any students during that time so I wasn’t able to set up a summer schedule for my existing projects, nor was I able to get anything new started. So mostly I waited. The month still went by quickly and I was very much enjoying life at site, but the workload dropped off significantly for a couple of weeks.

July, on the other hand, has been an absolute madhouse. I have felt completely swamped this month, in the best kind of way. Writing proposals, working on K6 training, teaching at the health center, organizing Camp GLOW, planning for my childhood nutrition project, traveling to Phnom Penh, the list goes on. Yesterday I drafted a calendar for August to give to my health center director, and it looks like August will be busier yet!

This cycle keeps things interesting, keeps me invested and energized. I need both the highs and the lows to stay happy and sane, but most people who know me know that it’s really during those busy times, like right now, that I thrive.





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