Hello blog family!
It’s been just under a month since I arrived in Szeged and I am still so in love with this city. I have finally started to fall in to a rhythm and get my schedule figured out (those that know me know that this is a big deal! Stay tuned for a walk through of my week here in Szeged!). That being said, I have a confession to make. Over the last few weeks I’ve been struggling. Struggling to figure out why I am here and what I am doing.
During orientation, the YAGM program does a great job of teaching us about accompaniment. We learn all about what it is and how we will experience it throughout our years. I thought I was the resident expert on this. Before I left, people at home would always ask, “What are you going to be doing there?” To which I would respond, we’re not there to do, we’re there to live alongside. I was wholeheartedly convinced that I had this mantra instilled in my mind.
Cue arrival in Szeged. In my head I was ready to just be and to live along side the people in my community. I was totally good with it…… for the first few days! Then I started to get impatient. I felt like I wasn’t “doing” anything. I had so much downtown that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I started looking at my fellow YAGM’s work and admiring how much it seemed like they were “getting done.” I started comparing my job to their jobs. But, then I remembered a quote that we were told many times during orientation, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So I pulled myself out of that, and I started trying to focus more on Szeged and my specific site placement.
After a few weeks of exploring the options that were presented to me in Szeged and finding some things to do on my own, I was still wondering if there was a magic “thing” that I was missing. I was weak and even resorted to messaging the YAGM that was here last year to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. She was super helpful in encouraging me to shift my mindset out of the do do do of American culture and in to the be be be of Hungarian culture. I started to do some critical thinking about what I was doing and what I wasn’t doing. I came to the conclusion that no, I’m not necessarily “doing” anything in the sense of what is seen as “typical” mission work, but I am experiencing amazing things.
I have been able to experience the overwhelmingly welcoming community that I walked in to. People who have never met me before have shown me the utmost kindness and gratitude—yes, gratitude—for simply being there. It doesn’t come from a place of thinking I will “save” them from their problems, because I’m not here to do that, and every one knows that I couldn’t do that even if I tried. It’s a gratitude for simply being present and accompanying them in their lives and walking with them, if only for a few moments. Everyone one that I have met (ok, most, every one has their bad days) has had a huge smile on their face.
Hungarian culture is so open and helpful. Its a nice breath of fresh air compared to American culture where everything is dog eat dog, fend for yourself. So the real question is, what am I doing? I think I’ve finally figured out my answer. I’m doing everything I can to drink in as much of this culture as possible over the next 10 months. This year isn’t about problem-solving, or about who has the best job or is being the most helpful to the organizations that they are paired with, it’s about being part of a community and trying my best to bring those stories and lessons learned back home as respectfully as I can. So for now, I’m content just “doing” those things. Just living and breathing in every experience that I have, and I hope that I will find a way to bring pieces of this incredibly loving and helpful culture home with me.