I had almost forgotten the highs and lows of being abroad. It’s different than just travel – it comes when you are trying to live somewhere, to establish a home for yourself, even if it’s not for long. And it comes with this kind of work – the amorphous, complicated, occasionally inspiring work of “international development.”
There’s the simultaneous terror and exhilaration of placing your life in the hands of someone you barely know. Suddenly, I’m racing through Kathmandu on the back of a motorcycle with someone I met only a week ago, wind and dust lashing at my face, trying not to wince at the chaotic, weaving traffic. Suddenly, I’m boarding a turboprop plane for a place I’ve never heard of with two people I’ve known for days. They’re practically strangers, yet they are my guides, my hosts, and my lifeline.
Fortunately, Sugam’s a good driver and we made it to Swayambhunath in one piece. We climbed an unreasonable amount of stairs, marveled at the vistas, laughed at the monkeys, and eventually even made it to have french fries and coffee in Thamel. Fortunately, the turboprop plane was steady and quick, the roads surprisingly good, and Indira, Yunesh, and I made it to the hilly town of Dhankuta in due time.
What I love about this is how, when I’m forced to put my trust in people I just met, they so rarely disappoint me. I have received so much remarkable kindness, guidance, and protection from people I barely know around the world. Sugam is already a friend – there’s a camaraderie of shared experience that comes with being a Peace Fellow. Indira and Yunesh continue to take good care of me – Yunesh with his patient translations, Indira with her ample servings of daal bhat and her kindly tug on my sleeve when I am walking on the wrong side of the road.
The work confounds and excites me – again, the dualism of the highs and lows. At one moment I feel like I have no idea what’s going on, no idea what my role in all this is. At the next I feel invigorated and I know exactly what we’re going to do, how it will happen, and I can’t wait to jump into it. This isn’t a straight-forward job. There are a lot of pieces to sort through.
And so I’m sorting through the pieces and finding friends where once there were strangers. I still feel unsure of myself, but each day I’m a bit more comfortable. Some days are great, some… not as great. But I savor the highs and survive the lows and slowly but surely find my footing.
Posted By Katie Baczewski
Posted Jun 13th, 2014