It was getting dusky when Jasmine finished her introduction. I went down to my room to unpack, and shower after a long trip. After I was done I climbed all those stairs up to a school where WiFi was available.
I found the way without a bigger problem. Flashlight on my phone illuminated the muddy path. It had been raining that day so, regardless relatively high temperature, smaller and bigger puddles remained.
There’s only one WiFi network available thus I didn’t struggle with the connection either. Everything went smoothly.
I sat on a bench in a corner pressing my back against a wooden fence for comfort. Mosquitoes were flying around. Although invisible in the dark, noticeable for other senses like the feel and hear. From time to time I slapped my arms when feeling a bite, and wriggled my legs to chase them away, but I was focused too much on what’s online to seriously be bothered by some insects.
“Coooomidaaaa” a male, strong voice disturbed the silence. Jasmine and her friend whom she spoke French with slowly proceeded down to the volunteers’ kitchen. Comida means food in Spanish. In our community, it was a signal indicating that dinner (that was one of the volunteer’s tasks) has been prepared and was ready to get eaten.
When I finished sending messages and felt satisfied with the dose of social media, I slowly headed down to join the rest of my new colleagues in the kitchen.
I pushed the door open, removed my flip flops – according to what a handwritten note placed on the door ordered, and entered the kitchen.
A few people were there sitting around the table. They raised their eyes, looked at me, froze, waited.
“Hi, I’m Anna…” I said with a high pitched voice and then added: “a new volunteer”. There’s no enthusiasm or anything from their side so I walked across the kitchen to a water tank, topped my water bottle up, and then turned to face them again.
“Just wanted to grab some water…” I lifted my bottle up presenting it to them. Silence. Only gazes of three people fixed at me. I rushed to leave feeling awkward. “Going to… sleep… exhausted… night!” I mumbled and ran away to my room.
I entered a group of people, which was one of these things I disliked very much. I tried to avoid situations like that. I knew that I don’t do it right but I didn’t even know how to do do it properly or at least the way to be accepted quicker.
I considered myself as a quite bulky in social situations, and even though I could appear to be a confident extrovert I struggled to make those several steps toward getting to know others.
I found this event very stressful which often resulted in chaotic speech, over-movement, illogical statements and/or self concentrated behavior.
A process of meeting and getting to know people was something huge for me. Even though I was curious about others I tried to restrict rapid, intense new-humans-experiences to a minimum.
I remember several situations when I had to enter already formatted groups. My memories weren’t the best ones. I just needed time to observe, build trust, confidence and then I was good.
But that night… it was definitely too much, too quickly to me.
To be continued…