Today was a very productive day. But I’ve also reached a point where some of the really difficult work begins.
For example, I have been setting up meetings, going to meetings, networking, sorting files, creating lesson plans, calling volunteers, doing sessions with youth, organizing volunteering events and meeting with schools. This type of work has definitely kept me busy! I’m actually shocked when I sit down and think about how much work there is that needs to be done. I’ve some friends (other CUSO-VSO volunteers or other students in my university program) who have arrived at jobs where their organizations have found it difficult to find work for them to do.
Others, like me, have arrived in organizations that have a ton of things on the go and we have found ourselves in little whirlwinds. From the first day, I realized that there was a lot to do and though I’ve not yet been working with this organization for a month, with the amount of responsibility that has been given to me, it feels like I’ve been working there for years.
Finally, I think I’m getting my feet beneath me and I’m coming out of survival mode and into a place where I can start to think big picture.
And so there is another kind of work that I need to do as well. Managing programs and networking organizations and creating training manuals is all very foreign to me. I’m much more used to doing frontline work, building relationships and offering advice from time to time. And after being here for almost a month, I’m starting to get a glimpse into some of the deeper issues that some of the youth are struggling with.
I would love to figure out who can really support these youth (some of whom have significant struggles to overcome and could use a lot of good care). I’m only here for a year (and one month is already gone) and there is a shortage of really good volunteers. Sessions can give them a lot of good information but if volunteers are only there once a week or every two weeks for one hour, there is little ability for them to really get to know the youth.
There are no easy answers for the big picture questions (and more and more are starting to crop up all the time), but they are useful to keep in front of me as I’m doing all of my other work. The most difficult work is also, perhaps, the most difficult to define but that also makes it all the more worthwhile to try and figure out.
Drew Badgley is a student at the University of Toronto Scarborough, studying International Development Studies, currently on Co-op placement in Guyana.