The first surprise of week one was that the host family I chose during my site visit would no longer be hosting me. Surprise number two was one that I was expecting and not altogether looking forward to. I would be living in two different towns for about the first five months. Monday through Wednesday I am going to live with my counterpart in one town and Thursday through Sunday I am going to live in the town (40 km away) where I was originally supposed to work. (Splitting hairs, but I was actually supposed to work in the center of the region, which is in a different town, and I only first really got to explore this afternoon. My conclusion though is that there isn’t really much to see there either.)
So I am blessed with the opportunity to get to do everything twice. Two communities to integrate into. Two workplaces to get to know. Two host families. It’s really double the fun down here in southern Kazakhstan.
At site one, I live with Almas and his family. He and his wife have three young, rambunctious boys all under the age of five, and another child on the way in a few months. My main jobs right now are finishing up an English information brochure that another volunteer started and teaching the guides at a nearby nature reserve enough English so they can interact with the tourists. The guide allows me to play with photoshop a lot, which I’m happy about. The English teaching is not as exciting (as I am not a TEFL volunteer), but at least I can see how it is a useful job skill.
At site two, I live with a great family that was gracious enough to take me in when the original choice fell through. There is a mom, dad, son about my age, and a young grandchild. Site two work is not as great as site two host family though. Right now, I am working on a presentation that I am going to give to the community about myself, and working on projects from site one. There is potential for more work, but I need to meet more people in the community, and that takes time. For now, I kinda feel like I’m just treading water here, but hopefully it will pick up in a few weeks or months. To add to the fun of site two, I don’t actually work at my organization’s office, because it is not heated in the winter. Instead I am at a school in my village (adding to the confusion that I’m a TEFL volunteer). So I sit either in the computer lab or the teacher’s lounge/office and try to work on my projects.
I feel like it’s been a slow week, but I am excited to have at least the guide book project to keep me busy for now. I’m still not altogether sure what I will be doing here, but I’ve learned to have a little more patience about those sorts of things. There’s a strange balance between taking the initiative and letting things develop, that I don’t think I’ve quite mastered, but I’m sure I will get plenty of practice at over the next two years.