Sunday, July 16, 2006

Finally, my first update!!

Hey there!

I hope you enjoy this picture of my pal Eileen. It is a special shout out to her to let her pals know that this “golden girl” is alive! We are in the city for an all-2006 PCV workday.

I AM MOVING!!! My site for the next two years will be in the largest village in Armenia, located south of the biggest lake in Armenia, Lake Sevan. I will be teaching 3rd -10th grades (these are the only grades in Armenia educational system, though starting September 1, 2006 a K-12 system is being implemented). I will be teaching primarily in one school, though my knowledge will be utilized in two others as well. I will experience all four seasons, with wonderful mountain, lake, and valley scences. The winter will be very comparable to Buffalo, NY, with lots of snow…the only difference is that there is no heating in the home!!!! I will get my new address soon, so I will be sure to keep you posted! Internet will be over two hours away, so updates will be random.. Now, I have many troubles logging into my email account as well as trying to access my blog.

Well is has been over a month since I have last chatted to anyone through the worldwide web. Thank you so much for your personal responses as well. I promise to get to each of you, though it may take a moment, especially since it takes 15 minutes to send emails here. I sincerely know they will be overdue, so my apologies in advance!

The weather has been nuts here. We had to be in the 100’s for the first couple of weeks, then it was barely in the 50’s for a week, and now we are back in the low 90’s. Last winter, the schools had to close for two months because of the harsh winter and lack of heating in the facilities. I don’t think that the weather is going to be the hardest part, but the fact that I may be stranded in my home for that long!!!!

We had a wonderful July 4th celebration despite the weather being uncooperative. It rained the entire day, as it had the past week, leaving the initial plans unattainable. All incoming PCV’s were going to meet up for a BIG celebration, but instead the villages stayed together. Plus, the roads were so muddied that we got stuck trying to get to our destination. We had a nice “horavots” meaning bbq, played Armenian playground games, and ate, and ate, and ate. We sang songs such as the “Star Spangled Banner”, etc. I am sure that the fellow Armenians would never ask the Americans to sing again!!! No fireworks were involved, but fun was still had by all.

Armenian food is good! I have tried everything on the table, and have only gotten sick twice, which is really not that bad. The food does not differ much to that of what can be found in America, is it just that the food is purely natural…ie the milk, all dairy products, veggies, meats, etc. Also, the Armenians love to celebrate everything, so there are many “toasts” for various reasons. I am hoping that once I clear up my language skills I will be able to understand what I am toasting to!

Language is coming along to say the least; though I wish I was progressing a bit quicker. I can carry conversations and make sense, though my sentence structure is completely wrong. My vocabulary is expanding each day which is a very intense learning process. Sometimes I even catch myself righting in my journal in Armenian! Also, I have been teaching 8th graders. I always had a special appreciation for my teachers, but now, this appreciation has grown a bit bigger…

The village I live in is great. The community has embraced my running schedule and the people that are up at 630 are on the “janaparh” (road) are waving and smiling. I am known as the “sportsman” of the village, and they all think I am a boxer. I guess only boxers run everyday, so it has been interesting trying to tell people that I just like to run for fun. I have also initiated a soccer game every Monday with the village children. I don’t know that much about soccer, but evidently I have not made a big mistake yet Everyday when I walk home from school or from other volunteers’ homes, I am escorted by at least 6 kids. They are so funny! Each day they give me a new word in Armenia in exchange for an English word. So far, their favorite phrase is “Later Gator”, but no worries, they know some proper English as well, not just slang. Also, I came to the village and saw very few smiles…this is slowly changing

I had one really tough day on a couple of weeks ago. My IPOD’s hard drive crashed and I have lost all my music…all 2100 songs. I cannot believe how attached I had become to my IPOD. But it is just of material value… You know, all good things in life are wild and free.

My two funny language faux pas of the past month have been…
-The word “ice cream” is very similar to another word. It is a matter of saying a “kh” sound over a “gh” sound. Very hard to find the difference, but I did quickly because the other word that is similar is condom….yep; I had to that cleared up QUICKLY! No wonder the lady at the candy hut looked at me weird…

-The other one is that I said “I want to eat my teachers” rather than “ I went on a walk with my teachers”..

Other than that, things are well. This is definitely a challenge not so much physical, but emotional and psychological. It simply is just a different way of life: the lack of simple resources such as water and electricity. However, the happiness, desire, and hope of the Armenians is endless. This country has battled from many wars, but the preservation of its language and culture are so fluid and dominant. The Armenian history is quite full of interesting feats, both good and bad. I encourage each of you to read about it sometime. I would tell you more, but this would be longer that what is already is!

With that said, I am going to wrap up this note. So if you don’t hear from me, just understand that “no news is good news” and that there are many Armenians taking good care of me…and yes, they give wonderful hugs and enjoy feeding me ice cream…so I have it made!

Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers
Anush yevraz (sweet dreams)
Syd (there is not an “I” sound in Armenia so my name here is SEED).
Happy Wedding Vows to Rhea, Stephanie, and Netty…sorry I could not be there!
Happy Bdays to Laurel and Stacie on July 6th.