What have I been doing? That is a great question. And, I have an answer for you. For the most part I have been getting settled into my new home and connecting with new people. As for work, I am swimming in new waters and flourishing. When I look through my to-do list it is clear that I will be busy for a while.
I was very intimidated when I first came into the office. Only 1 out of 6 of my new coworkers spoke English. Immediately, I knew that teaching English within the office would be amongst my many tasks. Then, my role began to adapt.
When the Center for Legal Aid asked for a volunteer they wanted someone capable of creating a five year strategic plan for the organization. Initially, I remembered what my University professors preached about strategic planning. It was surprising how much I recalled and how efficiently I was able to construct an action plan.
I endless analyzed the organization by sifting through a PowerPoint presentation focused on the organizations mission, vision, and activities. I also look for other resources to help me understand the efficiency of NGOs in Ukraine. I turned my attention to another presentation on Ukrainian Non Government Organizations and Civil Service Organizations (CSOs) that was provided to me by the PeaceCorps. This presentation led me to a 10-year long USAID study on CSOs in Ukraine which was published briefly before Maidan.
After analyzing the resources I formulated a document with a list of questions. Each question was aimed at identifying the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Today, this document was distributed throughout the office. Each staff member was asked to answer each question in full and send their responses back to me by next week. I also sent a separate organizational assessment form to my director which penetrates deeper into the functionality of the organization. (Did I mention this was all done in Ukrainian?)
It is obvious that there are many communication barriers between my coworkers and I. However, the work that we do makes a positive impact in the lives of citizens each day. I can see it in faces of each Kovel citizen that curiously pawns their way into our office. I look forward to working and building relationships with my new coworkers over the next two years. They are great people and I am a lucky man.
*These are the views of Richard J. Roman and do not reflect those of the Peace Corps or its affiliates.