Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Volunteers Adjust and Prepare for Important Work

No matter how much you hear about the bedding and locker area called the “racks,” it is another opportunity to demonstrate more flexibility. It is a bit of a struggle for some of us Project HOPE volunteers who are a bit organizationally dysfunctional! Ah, this is where flexibility and patience is extra handy for those around people like me!

Our locker is under the bed, the bed is the top of the locker, so we have to lift the bed to get things into or out of the lockers. No such things as drawers or upright lockers. In the mornings it is quite the choreograph as women get ready for the day. We take turns getting our things, then getting out of the way of the other person. It is a choice of letting the other person be more important than yourself, and it works very well.

Sleeping in the racks is a whole other act of flexibility! There is so little headroom that one cannot even hold a book all the way upright to read it. When one turns over you are bound to hit the wall.

During one of the meals, one of the crew mentioned how tired they were. I reminded them that they were going through culture shock. We often don’t think of culture shock during an event like this because we are on USA property, but it is a whole new way of life that we must adjust to very quickly. Not only do we have to be flexible with each other and the new life we live for these weeks, but with ourselves. We often forget that we need to give ourselves room to make mistakes and to learn. It is OK to be tired and to be flexible with personal expectations.

Learning how to get around on the ship is a bit mind boggling! It is like a three dimensional maze. The halls, oh, excuse me, P-ways, look the same. No real identity except for a numbering system. Although there are multiple ways to get around, usually once someone finds out how to arrive at a location, he stick with it and won’t change the route much. Although it seems impossible, one does eventually figure things out. Fortunately, military personnel are more than happy to help us find our way around. They know the feeling! They don’t seem to forget how easily they got lost too.

Photos and story by Bonnie Hudlet, HOPE's Volunteer Public Affairs Officer

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