Training started this morning at 8am sharp, so this will be a quick post before I crash into bed, but I wanted to quickly share some thoughts on my first day of training as a new Kiva Fellow. There was, of course, a lot of talk about expectations, and to be honest I wasn’t even sure what to expect out of training, but I will tell you that Day 1 was so, so much fun! It certainly out-did any expectations I might have had.
As you might guess, I met a lot of new people, both Kiva Fellows and staff. Everyone so far has been incredibly kind and enthusiastic, and it’s been great to hear everyone’s story. It was great to empathize/commiserate/totally understand when other fellows told me about leaving their corporate job to go volunteer abroad, to do something new and inspiring! I felt inspired by everyone, even though we’re all essentially doing the same thing.
I think the most exciting revelation of the day, that I just couldn’t wait to share with everyone, is that this all feels so REAL now. I’m going to be working with real people, in a real place, with a real organization. I think it really hit me today – the potential I have to make a real, actual difference doing this work. It’s thrilling! A few times the training leader jokingly said, “this isn’t a joke,” and while we all laughed, I think the reality really started to sink in. I was expecting to feel more scared when the reality finally started to sink in, but thankfully, I’m mostly just more excited.
The other story I want to share actually is about how I spent last Saturday evening. My boyfriend Ian and I went to the “Moscow & Tbilisi Bakery” out in the Richmond district of San Francisco (northwestern part of the city). Since I’ll be based in Tbilisi, I thought it would be a great chance to try some Georgian food, and maybe even meet some real, live Georgian people. Well, I did meet the husband and wife who owned the Tbilisi side of the bakery. The man was incredibly generous with his time and gave me a lot of information. His wife also was very kind and spent some time talking to us. At some point in our conversation, however, she began speaking to her husband in Georgian, growing increasingly louder, until she finally went back to the kitchen without another word to us.
To be honest, I was a little crushed. Ian assured me that it probably had nothing to do with us, but who knows. One of my biggest fears/concerns is inadvertently offending people left and right once I arrive in Tbilisi, so the experience touched a nerve, and it was really disappointing to have my first encounter with a Georgian end so awkwardly. In my mind I was thinking, what in the world is going to happen once I actually get to Tbilisi, this is going to be fuuuuuun.
So, I mentioned this to my friend Jen who is a recently returned U.S. Peace Corps volunteer. Her response was simply, “Awkward will become the new normal.” This advice (ironically enough), along with the first day of training, has made me feel infinitely more positive and confident. Somehow remembering that it’s ok to be totally awkward all of the time (because frankly I won’t really have a choice) takes some of the pressure off. And the new REAL-ness of it all just has me totally pumped, awkward or not.
So that was Day 1! Big Picture = welcome to reality, awkward is ok, and a bunch of new friends! I look forward to sharing the rest of the week with you, and hope that I feel as pumped on Friday as I do tonight.
Also, keep the comments coming, I’m such a nerd about my blog and it’s sooo exciting to see them! Oh, and I’ll try to have some pictures to upload later in the week for your viewing pleasure.