Interview With A Peace Corps Volunteer In Kyrgyzstan, Part 2

You might remember Andy, the Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan Volunteer, who shared his thoughts on training with the TEFL Logue last week (or from his Free Lance Star article).

Teaching abroad, especially in a developing country, can be challenging. There are bound to be moments when all you want to do is go home. In his own words, here is Andy on those challenging times and some advice he received:

“Before I left for Kyrgyzstan, a friend of mine who was a volunteer in Panama told me that there would be times when I would want to quit and go home. His advice was to give it 5 days. If the urge to throw in the towel persisted for 5 days, then you could seriously think about it. I think I might have had 2 really terrible days in a row in my two years in Kyrgyzstan. Other than that, you sort of live by the hour. There were days when classes went really well, but then I would get hassled by a bunch of drunk guys on my walk home. Sometimes I would wake up homesick, but then have a great meeting with a community group about a project we were working on. Some days it was cold and there was no water and I was broke and I just wanted a decent bagel. Then there were the heavenly days when I would go hiking and end up sitting around drinking tea with shepherds in the mountains.

There were all sorts of days, and I found that I rarely went to bed in the same mood as I woke up. Life anywhere is a series of ups and downs, I suppose, but it’s really something you notice when you’re living in a new environment.”

From personal experience (and I haven’t lived anywhere as far off as Kyrgyzstan), this is quite an accurate description of those challenging days. In a new environment you don’t have those stable or constant regular influences like at home – familiar faces, television programs or just home comforts, and while you may make friends in your new town, it’s not the same as being around your family or long-term/at home friends.

At the same time, if you follow Andy’s two-day rule (well, Andy’s friend’s two-day rule) – you can generally pass through the occasional low points and come out of it with handfuls of good experiences.

Andy let me know it’s fine to post his email address if you’d like to contact him directly. You can reach him at kyrgyzstandy at gmail dot com.