Since I arrived here, we have had a couple new people join our house. All of these new people have a lot of international experience, which means they’ve got great stories. And, I’m only too happy to explain to them Kabul or Afghan-specific things, like where to get things, how to do certain activities, or how the government is structured.

Last week, a new adviser joined my team. She is in a completely different place when it comes to her expectations for this work. She uses a lot of technical terms and consulting speak, which I know the locals don’t fully understand. She expects to use all of her consulting toolkit (documents, templates, strategies, etc.) She worries about being at meetings 15 minutes ahead of time (truthfully, I still have trouble with this, but while I try to be on time, I never expect the meeting to begin at that planned time–it’s all Afghan time…Insha’Allah). She expects to get through a long list of items in an hour meeting, where we might get to item #2. She expects all of the offices to have air conditioning (so she comes in a suit). She expects to leave meetings with clear action items and for those items to be done by the next meeting.

Honestly, I could go on and on about her expectations and how completely off the mark they are from reality. It’s interesting because in some ways I can see how far my expectations have changed in such a short period, but in other ways, I know she simply didn’t have basic preparedness.

Also, the addition of this person is particularly challenging for me because I am the one who brainstorms and strategizes with her. So I am often the one having to give her examples of what I’ve seen (such as trying to convince our counterpart that he must check his email at least once a day) in order to give her a reality check.