Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Orientation Round II

This week, the new volunteers have their Semana de Orientación. Known at some moments as the week from hell, Orientation Week is a jam packed, super busy, exhausting week of introducing newbies to every single piece of NPH. It's all good information to know, but Lord is it a tiring six days.

In proper former William & Mary OA fashion, I'm helping out during this week's Orientation too. I expected the goofy icebreakers, and I expected to hear myself answering their questions with a 20-minute long schpeel (how do you spell that?) since I do so love to blabber on, but there were a few things I wasn't quite ready for.

First of all, I didn't think Orientation would be as exhausting the second time around, especially from the other side. Well, it is. I was there all yesterday morning and then could barely keep myself awake in the office yesterday afternoon. Thank goodness I have today off from Orientation duty -- my 9.5-hour office work day feels like a much-needed rest!

I also wasn't really prepared for Orientation to be emotionally exhausting the second time around. When you first get here, you hear all about your job expectations, and how you should act around the kids, and how you need to speak Spanish all the time, and how you need to respect the culture here and be patient with it instead of complaining about it and trying to change it. Every second of every day during Orientation, you're constantly freaking out and thinking "Can I do this? Can I do a good job at this?"

Now, after sitting through another Orientation a full six months later, being reminded of what my expectations are, how I should be acting around the kids, that I should be speaking Spanish all the time, and how I should be patiently respecting Guatemalan culture instead of complaining about it, I can't help but be overwhelmed this time with "Am I doing this year right? Am I doing a good job at this?"

It makes you second-guess yourself -- Am I even a good volunteer?, which sucks. But, it also makes you look at your first six months, see if they're what you expected/hoped/are proud of, and then take the last six months and do them even better -- whatever that ends up meaning. So, despite the whole utterly exhausting part, I guess that makes Orientation Round II pretty worth it in the end.

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