Patience, and the need for it, is first addressed on the Peace Corps application. Even before you fully admit to having the intent to be a PCV, they you this job requires a great deal of patience. The application itself is an example. The estimated time from when a person submits the form to staging is a year and months elapse without a word between the different steps.
At staging, eager to jump in this new role, they reuttered it again. “Remember to have patience,” they say while you think “get on with it already.”
You arrive in your designated country to find out three months and assessments will come before anyone will recognize you as a true volunteer. Patience, they tell you as you stumble on culture faux pas and force a new language on to your tongue as the sun beats down and flies host parties on your skin.
Sai Hankuri. Have patience.
You endure those parts of the route to volunteerhood but not always with patience. You snap at your roommate, cry when no one is looking and thrust your frustrations on anything fried or dipped in chocolate.
Then, all the patience amounts to the goal, right when you wonder if your patience pond is dry. You are where you want to be, no more waiting.
On the first day of your new job, though, you realize that these are the moments that you were warned about. Before it was just practice, now it’s time for sai hankuri. When no one understands you and you understand no one. When cell phone reception is a game, wandering a field for at least a bar. When it’s a three-hour wait for a 28 K ride. When the sun acts as if it wants to destroy you and the million plus flies in you home are in on the gig. When you become the butt of every joke you don’t understand. These are the times for patience.
Patience is not a virtue I posses, but I am maneuvering it. Suddenly, all is solvable with a slice of optimism and a giggle. When they say to have patience, it means never let anything get the best of you. Stay calm and laugh. That’s patience.