Chipping away

What does $350 in books look like? Apparently not much in the age of the Kindle.

So I got a Kindle, and already this is big news. I think this qualifies as early adoption; I didn’t get my first cell phone until 2006, and my family resolutely kept its dialup connection until 2007. But I’ve been told that a Kindle is an essential piece of equipment for Ye Olde Developpement Professional, and already I can see dozens of ways in which this device will make my life easier. (Most of them involve a suitcase that’s thirty pounds lighter.)

I’ve uploaded all of my training PDFs to my Kindle, and I’ve been reading them voraciously whenever I have a spare moment. Handy little thing. I could get used to this.

At this point in my preparations, I’ve knocked off nearly all of the little tasks I need to complete before departure. The only tasks left on my list are giant, frustrating, time-consuming ones that I have been hacking away at forever but which never seem to be complete. These generally fall into three categories:

  1. The ones that make me feel underqualified, uninformed, and/or generally dense (f. ex. Kiva training documents, UNCDF online microfinance course)
  2. The ones that make me bang my head against a wall out of frustration (f. ex. getting a Tajikistani visa, convincing crucial people to return my emails)
  3. The ones I will seemingly never get around to because something more time-sensitive always comes up (f. ex. learning Tajiki and Azeri, pinning down my list of grad schools)

The first has been weighing on me most heavily as of late. I am nervous about this fellowship, but not for the reasons a more sane person might cite (like, I don’t know, spending eight months 7,000 miles from home living in dictatorships at various levels of development and security. That actually energizes me.) Rather, I can’t shake these self-doubts telling me that I’m not intellectually ready: that I don’t have enough of a background in finance, that I’m jumping in at the deep end, that I’ll be useless if I don’t already know everything there is to know before I hit the ground.

These doubts are gradually fading as I get further into my Kiva-prescribed microfinance crash course, but I don’t think they’ll ever fully disappear. That’s good. That will keep me humble: always aware of how much I still have to learn, ever-conscious that each person I speak with will have so much to teach me. There are worse ways to approach my time abroad.

Before you go, check out this excellent photo-essay by Theodore Kaye on the isolated people of the Pamirs in eastern Tajikistan, one of the highest mountain ranges in the world. One picture is NSFW, but you’re all big boys and girls.


About Arbutus

learner, traveler, music-maker, explorer, rabbit extraordinaire
This entry was posted in Kiva Fellowship, Preparations. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Chipping away

  1. tED says:

    Thanks for linking to my site. Drop in and say hi when you’re in Dushanbe!

  2. Amy says:

    I think it’s one of those things where you just go do it. No matter what you do, no matter how much you prepare–it will never be what you expect. And that’s a wonderful thing. You’ll experience something richer than you could have imagined.

    Ooh, that’s a cool photo-essay. It reminds me of my favorite photographer’s work, Raul Gutierrez. Not quite Central Asia, but he wandered out to China’s Western borders.

    • Arbutus says:

      Yeah, this is very true. No matter what I learn or don’t learn, no matter what I do or don’t have time to do, I’m going to be in Tajikistan in four weeks, and I’ll have to work with what I have. The uncertainty makes things exciting. =:)

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