2: Feeling Overwhelmed

I have now finished week number 2 of my internship (see post #1 for details) and things are admittedly slightly different than I thought they would be. The biggest challenge so far has, without a doubt, been the language barrier. While I thought this would be a difficult obstacle to overcome, I was not truly prepared for how tough this would be. Nowhere is this more evident than in trying to feel useful in this internship. Because of the language barrier, I am only meant to conduct interviews with those that speak English, understandably, but also understandable is that for some, even if they can speak English, telling their story in their native language is easier and better for them. I respect that completely and do not at all want to damper anyone’s ability to feel comfortable when saying what they need to, but sometimes it’s hard to feel useful when I can only gather data from a few people. However, a lighter note to this post, I have absolutely loved getting to hear the stories of those I am able to communicate with, and I am so grateful to everyone committed to fighting injustice here. It is truly beautiful to see. That is another way that this experience so far has been different from what I expected. While I was looking forward to speaking with people here and seeing how different (or similar) LGBTQ+ issues were here, I am often blown away by the people I speak to, another reason why I am so glad to be here.


On another good note, while the political climate here is….something else (I encourage everyone to read about it just a little bit because, wow) there are some truly beautiful buildings and places here.  For example, I have a long walk to work (long being 20 minutes, don’t judge me), but I am surrounded by mountains on all sides. It’s truly incredible to see! I am looking forward to exploring so much more while I am here!

P.S While my featured picture is not something I see everyday, I really wanted to emphasize the beautiful parts of Macedonia.


3 thoughts on “2: Feeling Overwhelmed

  • May 14, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Ah, yes, the language barrier. As an anthro major, this is to me one of the most beautiful obstacles. When I was in India last summer, before I started formally studying Hindi, I found that even just a few words or phrases would take me very far in connecting with locals. Even if the conversations were a hodge podge of broken sentences in multiple languages, making an effort to mindfully and respectfully engage with another culture really changed the whole tone of every interaction I had. So, I guess my advice is to keep on keeping on! Continue doing interviews in English, of course, but maybe pick up some of the local language and sprinkle it in your convo every now and then. 🙂 Good luck, Diarra!

  • May 15, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I’m sure you’re more useful than you think you are! The fact that you are so eager to do more and be engaged in your internship just shows your kind heart and passion for this work! Excited to see some pictures of the buildings and mountains 🙂

  • May 15, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Diarra I think you are doing a beautiful job in describing both the challenges and learning that you have encountered so far. I definitely agree with Brianne’s comment above in that figuring out a few key words and phrases will get you far, and to be kind to yourself as you navigate your project. Perhaps you can find a language partner to learn a little bit of the local language, or form a partnership with someone who can act as a translator? These are unique challenges that come with working abroad, and even though there is always more you can do, be assured that you were hired for a reason and that you are making a valuable contribution to Subversive Front.

    P.S. I took your advice and looked into the political climate, and wow… :O


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