7 months down, 4 to go.
It’s been frustrating at times, no-one said it would be plain sailing, you’ve done volunteering in development before, you know how hard it can be. And whilst you might want to change the world, that wasn’t going to happen during 11 months in Croatia (you knew that).
With four months left though, it is time to really focus and do something worth remembering.
Firstly, stop procrastinating; there are only so many times you can check Facebook per day, if you are bored read a book, go for a walk, write or do some art, anything that won’t make you hate yourself for wasting so much time. Trust me, you’ll thank me for it later. Invite someone for a coffee, and if no-one wants to go, go alone and be the guy in the cafe that talks to anyone - use the languages you are learning. It might be strange and scary, but just push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Build on what you’ve done so far. You might not feel like you’ve had the impact that you wanted so far, but you have had an impact. So there was only one attendee at the last ‘debate club’? Well, the next one can’t have many fewer. You have more contacts now, use them; ask Elena to work as a mentor for once and to help, it’s what she’s there for; people were asking what has happened to it, just go for it.
Remember that everything you have done for yourself has been with minimal help from Elena; and now that Ana is director of the Open University you can get things moving for the cinema without waiting weeks for Elena to do nothing. Try and get it to happen outside as well, maybe not for the first one, but at least one. It would be so nice.
Don’t slow down. Whatever Elena say’s about the fact that all of our activities will finish in May there are two months left after that - keep things going. If some are dropped use it as a chance to focus on others and improve them. Summer will bring it’s own challenges, but there will be opportunities as well (cinema outdoors). You finish on 1st August - relax then.
Be more open. And say how you feel, but don’t forget to listen to others, especially to those with something to tell you. You have been much more open in the past seven months, with thanks to Alex and Maja for help with that, but don’t let comfort and inertia allow you to slip. Be more open with the people you know and love, but also with people you are meeting for the first time to let them in, yes you might get hurt, but being vulnerable has let you have your best experiences and strongest connections. Remember what it was like in those first few months when you were adjusting to a new country, meeting new people all the time and how you connected with them. Keep putting in the work with people you know as well.
Say how you feel at work as well. Speak up if there is something you don’t want to do, this is your experience, you are not obliged to do everything. Tell Elena that you think she needs to improve as well, she might not want to hear it, and she might not do anything about it, but there are things she needs to work on. Do this sooner rather than later, it might make your last four months go better, and will be an improvement for future volunteers. She needs to either be a mentor or supervisor, and not be absent as either, and she needs to know what you actually do - show her how integrated you are and can be.
So just some small targets for four months, it might be hard work, but don’t shy away from the fight. It will change you, but as MJ sings ‘if you wanna make the world a better place…’.