Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So much to do and so much time to do it in.

So much to do and so much time to do it in.

Every week I feel like I’ve got more and more to do. A new person to meet with or a new place I have to be. It’s nice to be busy to an extent but its also nice to have some down time which I think I’m balancing pretty well. For the last few weekends I’ve been going to Yerevan for the day or the weekend. Its funny how metropolitan it seems there which it is but for all of the cities I’ve visited in the world it’s actually some what small (only about 1 million people). I don’t really like having to go so often but just about any business I have to take care of must be done by going to Yerevan.

Me and my buddy Danny are going to India in January so this weekend we finally got our plane tickets and our visa’s which was probably the easiest most relaxed bureaucratic process I’ve ever been through. We went into the Indian Embassy and the lady helping us said that we had come too early to apply, but because we came from so far away she let us apply anyways. Then we forgot to bring pictures so she called an embassy car to take us to a photo shop where we got pictures taken and then the photographer airbrushed us and took off any facial blemishes which I thought was hilarious and probably against the rules for a visa picture.

After that I had a meeting with UMCOR to see about securing some nutritious varieties of food for my school cafeteria. They were very helpful and nice, but when the meeting was over one of the ladies insisted on showing me her pictures from a recent trip to Jerusalem. They were nice pictures but a lot of them- at least I got a slice of birthday cake out of it.

This week we have a week of no school. So I’m using my vacation to watch the first season of West Wing which my new friend Ashley let me borrow. Ashley and I went to the same University, Baylor, and she is in Armenia as a Fulbright Scholar. By the way I love West Wing and when I get home I want a fast paced, caffeine charged job in the west wing.

I’ve gotten a lot of letters in the mail over the last few weeks which I really like, so if you wrote one don’t worry I’ve got one for you in the mail and coming soon. It’s started to get chilly here again so I’ll be pulling out the long handles again soon.

Love, Me

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Sand Lot

Two years ago this month I left on a trip that in no small part changed the way I look at things today. It was a trip that helped define what I wanted to do after I graduated from college and it was a deciding factor in me joining the Peace Corps. Looking back now its pretty crazy to think what you can do in just two years and where you’ll will end up two years down the road. In 2007 I was crisscrossing the Balkans with a class of thirteen students meeting, interviewing, and gaining a rare perspective on a conflict that had raged little more then a decade ago. It was a fascinating trip and it is now a very fond memory of mine which is why I choose to mark its anniversary every year.

I know that its been a long time since I’ve written in my blog. It isn’t from a lack of things worth writing about I guess its from a busy schedule. Although for those with a 9-5 job you might find my saying I’m “busy” a bit of an overstatement as in my complacency I’ve begun to think I’m busy. One thing we were told time and time again in PST was that the first few months were going to be slow and it would be difficult to stay busy and for that part even feel like we’re doing anything. But I wasn’t going to let that happen. I was going to go straight in with activities and lessons and great ideas, but what I have realized is that 17 years of Peace Corps experience in Armenia means that they know what their talking about and while we may want to be busy it is close to impossible. But it has been a good time to organize ideas and for me to start looking for resources and ways that I can get what I want done, done.

I have now been to Yerevan twice and experienced the capital of Armenia. Its funny because after being in a village and then a small town, Yerevan seems like this incredible metropolis offering any and everything a person could ever want. But Yerevan really isn’t that big of a city and after drinking a coffee at one of the outdoor cafes and visiting the market I’m usually at a loss for things to do, but still I feel like I’m in the middle of the hustle and bustle of all this excitement. However, it seems that every time I go to Yerevan the next day when I get back to site it snows. At first that was a bad thing because it was only September and I didn’t think it needed to be snowing yet, but now I realize its not as bad a thing because the three massive dogs at my host families house don’t bark when its that cold. I guess there trying to sleep in order to stay warm Otherwise if the weather is nice then they bark the entire night and I get little sleep. And the other day I happen to look over the balcony into the back yard and saw that it was full of bones even a cow scull so I guess their diet consists of eating every scrap of meat of the bones thrown in the back yard.

Last week I was certain the novelty of my being here had warn off and that the honeymoon phase of my arrival was gone. People seemed a little less eager to see me or a little less excited to hear me speak my broken Armenian. Then I started noticing these new looks which I’m not sure if there slap on the back, keep up the good work, your doing great kind of stares or what are you still doing here, why do you want to live here and why would you leave America for two years to do it kind of looks.

And this past weekend I went back to Solak my training village for the first time since August. It was nice to see the original host family and this time of the year it is a beautiful village with lots of orange and yellow foliage climbing up the mountains and cascading across the valleys. It was also nice to understand a lot more of what the family had to say and to get to share what I’ve been up to for the last few months.

Finally, I was talking to an Armenian friend of mine tonight. She was telling me about the Soviet days and the 1990’s when Armenia was in such a state that even the capital only had electricity for two hours a day and no running water. In Artik her mother would have to cook things over a fire but in order to get wood she would have to go under the cover of darkness to the nearby woods and cut down limbs and tree’s to gather enough wood be able to warm water and cook meals. Occasionally she would have to burn her own books something that was precious to her as it provided some of the only entertainment of course TV was non existent and all they had to get to the outside world was a small radio that broadcast the Voice of America.