First off, let me say, not me. Well, not me out­side the office. The prob­lem is that I don’t want to be uti­lized or placed in the office. More on this lat­er in this post.

I’m strug­gling a bit with tone in these essay posts. My voice is my voice, but it starts to feel a bit repet­i­tive. I want to have some­thing new to say, because com­plet­ing the first year of ser­vice and hav­ing MST to mark the occa­sion felt good and did lead to some inter­est­ing reflec­tion. How­ev­er, when I start to write about my thoughts and feel­ings, I often end up harp­ing on the same themes. I have rewrit­ten large por­tions of this a few times to look at things in a new way. I think the oth­er prob­lem is that I feel like I’m leav­ing so much out. Some of that is self-cen­sor­ship, some is try­ing to stay focused in each post, and some is for­get­ting what I want­ed to say. Guess it wasn’t that impor­tant if it slipped my mind. With the pre­am­ble out of the way, here we go…

The title of this post refers to one of the unfor­tu­nate themes of days 1 and 2 of Mid-Ser­vice Train­ing. A theme which is not so pos­i­tive. I thought I was going to put these reflec­tions in the mid­dle of the 3-part series about MST, but then I fin­ished this post first. Also, it is bet­ter to become more pos­i­tive through­out the series, so the next post will be exam­in­ing my Aspi­ra­tion State­ment from the PC appli­ca­tion and the last post will be about our com­mu­ni­ty par­tic­i­pa­tion tools day.

the under­uti­lized and mis­placed bits…

It has been observed that too many of the Tech­nol­o­gy Trans­fer Vol­un­teers have at some point in their ser­vice felt under­uti­lized and mis­placed in their pri­ma­ry assign­ments. (Can I write that a lit­tle more vague­ly? Some­times I chick­en out of total hon­esty.) I believe that I have fall­en into this cat­e­go­ry myself, but then I want­ed to be in the envi­ron­men­tal pro­gram where the cac­ti are sure­ly green­er. How­ev­er, it is a tricky sit­u­a­tion that we are in. The TT Vol­un­teers are in Mex­i­co through a nar­row agree­ment between the US and Mex­i­can gov­ern­ments. Then, as PC Vol­un­teers, we can end up feel­ing caught between the oblig­a­tion of our ser­vice and the free­dom of it. Also, as a group of “experts” in var­i­ous fields, we tend to have, shall we say, high expec­ta­tions of our­selves and of those around us. We want to achieve things, and that is not nec­es­sar­i­ly what PC ser­vice is about — not in the sense that we are used it at least. The clear dif­fer­ence between Ear­ly In-Ser­vice Train­ing and Mid-Ser­vice train­ing, and it is most def­i­nite­ly a pos­i­tive thing to see, is that almost all the vol­un­teers have carved out some place or plan to achieve sat­is­fac­tion with their ser­vice.

A part of the last day’s activ­i­ties was a halfway use­ful activ­i­ty to think about phras­es that described everyone’s mind­set. In true PC fash­ion, lit­tle pieces of paper were stuck up on the walls around the room and we had to go stand under whichev­er phrase rep­re­sent­ed us. Then we dis­cussed our feel­ings with the oth­er peo­ple at our sta­tion, and then with the group at large. These pieces of paper said things like, in no par­tic­u­lar order:

  • I can see the impact of my pres­ence here.”
  • I’d be doing so much bet­ter if…”
  • I’m dread­ing the next year.”
  • Some­thing else”
  • I am receiv­ing from this as much as I’m giv­ing.”
  • I made a com­mit­ment and I’m stick­ing to it.”
  • I’m ready to go home.”
  • I’m real­ly look­ing for­ward to the next year; what comes, comes; what­ev­er.”
  • What a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty!”

This first activ­i­ty was to pick a phrase that described the first year. I was real­ly in the mid­dle of all of these. At first I was lean­ing towards “I’m real­ly look­ing for­ward to the next year; what­ev­er comes, comes; what­ev­er,” but the final part con­fused me. It seemed to negate the first half. First half is enthu­si­as­tic; sec­ond half is “meh”. Now that I think about it again though, maybe it is the best answer since some days are opti­mistic and some days are filled with anx­i­ety and the best approach to those days is “what­ev­er”. Or, that “what­ev­er” is more of a “Wow, I can’t wait to see any and every­thing, or what­ev­er comes will be great!” Snort.

sticky (or at least prick­ly) impact

The sec­ond activ­i­ty was to pick a phrase that described what the oppo­site of what you were feel­ing about the first year. After almost suc­cumb­ing to my stan­dard com­pul­sion to be con­trary and not par­tic­i­pate, I chose “What a won­der oppor­tu­ni­ty!” I did this because this phrase makes it seem like the expe­ri­ences I’m hav­ing are an acci­dent. I’m work­ing my butt off to make this oppor­tu­ni­ty what I want it to be. That sounds a bit self­ish, but I hope my project choic­es make it clear that I care deeply about the work. While I hap­pi­ly acknowl­edge the won­der­ful part­ners that I have in all of my projects, and who have often iden­ti­fied me as a per­son who can help and pulled me in, I have also spo­ken a few times on how I have just gone and stuck my nose into oth­er people’s inter­est­ing busi­ness and insist­ed on get­ting involved. These projects all seem to be work­ing out, so I guess I could acknowl­edge the won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty that PC has afford­ed me to find these projects. How­ev­er, I like to take some cred­it. Also, I have to take some fault for not mak­ing the most of my pri­ma­ry assign­ment. Most of my anx­i­ety (besides the occa­sion­al­ly crip­pling social anx­i­ety) comes from my pri­ma­ry assign­ment. With­out div­ing into the pool of neg­a­tiv­i­ty, I’m not sure that I would have felt cor­rect­ly placed at any of the pri­ma­ry assign­ment TT cen­ters. Well, what comes, comes, and I will keep try­ing to make the most of it.

An exam­ple of uti­liz­ing all oppor­tu­ni­ties that sur­round her, even the mis­placed ones.

I’m sure my cat feels under­uti­lized too, since I just refuse to play with her for the approx­i­mate­ly 8–14 hours a day she would like. I don’t think she feels too mis­placed though. Hope­ful­ly not, since she came from the shel­ter. She has the run of the house, and the only place that I don’t let her go is inside the couch. Damn cat. Damn cute cat.