I have already settled into a pretty comfortable routine here in Kyrgyzstan. Six days a week I have class with my small language group or go to Krasnaya Rechnya, the next village over, for technical, medical, and safety seminars with the whole K-23 group. I go for evening walks, practice my Kyrgyz with my host family, read a bunch, and get ambushed by little kids yelling “Hello! How are You?” pretty much any time I’m outdoors.
I know how to add credit to my phone at the local magazine and recognize and shake hands with my neighbors. My language is good enough to get me by and have little conversations with those (surprisingly numerous) people who are patient enough for it. I’ve ridden the mashrutka alone. I drink copious amounts of tea. I’m a competent squatty potty user.
And I’ve only been here for six weeks.
But as integrated as I might fancy myself, it’s nothing compared to the K-22s and K-21s who have been here for a year or two.
The things that the current volunteers have achieved – bringing water to hospitals, improving sanitation, teaching English, establishing book clubs, health clubs, sports clubs, improving NGOs, procuring project funding, and more – is wildly impressive. They’ve set the bar high and achieving anything landing in the same ballpark will not be easy.
In a two more weeks (on June 19th) all the comfort I’ve established in Kengesh will get tossed aside, I will swear in as a real-as-it-gets Peace Corps Volunteer, and I will see what I can do about reaching that bar.