Monday, January 08, 2007

2007 is Here!

Շնորահվոր ամանոր: Բարեվիր Հայաստանից:

Happy New Year!
Greetings from Armenia!

I hope the new year and winter holidays treated you all kindly! And I celebrated the New Year while you all were sleeping :) hehehe I saw it first :)

Here, things have been fun and interesting. Since my last update, I have completed my first semester as an English teacher. It is quite a growing experience to teach your native tongue in a foreign language. School is tentatively scheduled to open on January 22nd, depending on the weather..aka, it is FREEZING here. We only have woodstoves in the school, so it will just depend. I really will not know until the evening of the 21st whether or not school will begin. Everything is very “flexible” here.

Speaking of the weather, I can honestly say I have never seen this much snow. On December 27th, my village was greeted with a meter of snow, which is equivalent to over 3 feet. That is hip level for me! It is just amazing how much snow this is, and to think that every snowflake’s crystallized structure is different befuddles me! I have heard that Denver has seen its far share of snow as well. The only difference is that roads are plowed and cleaned in Denver. In the village, we make our own paths! The temperature has been in the 10’s with a little wind that is so crisp it will certainly take many breaths away. I continue to sleep in three layers, and I am quite comfortable.

Bathing has been a new challenge for me, as the “bathing room” is quite cold aka FREEZING, so I tried to throw buckets of warm water on me to cleanse myself. I was having trouble getting all the shampoo out of my hair, so my hair has been cut to just below the ear level. It makes bathing quicker which is very beneficial in the winter months!

Before Christmas, my family and I exchanged gifts. My family sent over some presents in which the family was ever so grateful. It was amazing to see how shocked they were! I spent Christmas day with some other volunteers at the Marriott hotel in Yerevan. December 25th is an insignificant day in Armenia, so it was wonderful to spend it with some people to who recognize this day. Also, the Marriott provided a HOT shower, WARM rooms, and privacy. I pampered myself in this entity as if I have never seen a bathroom or Christmas tree! I called my family to wish them a Merry Christmas, as well as my best friend Justinn and her family! Hearing everyone’s voices, especially my sister’s little rugrats was the most soothing thing for me, but it made me only ache to be in America.

After the Christmas holiday, I spent some time in Yerevan with my friends. I assisted in teaching a couple of English classes at a local university. I really enjoyed teaching at this level, and am going to explore this option a bit more. Maybe next academic year we can work out a plan so I can come into Yerevan twice a month to teach. It is just a difficult drive to the university from my village.

Also, I spent some relaxing days with my best friends as well. They took me to see old Armenian dances, which were very interesting. Needless to say, my coordination mixed with these dances, makes me look like a person trying to walk over coals! I ended my Yerevan excursion attending my first Armenian wedding…WOW! We danced, yes, those of you that really know me, I DANCED, and we ate, and ate, and ate, and ate. We had six different courses of food, which I was not prepared for, as I indulged myself during the first course. Eight hours later, the party ended.

I spent the New Years in my village with my family. Okay, I have never experienced such a holiday as this. It is celebrated for over a week. We went to so many houses where we ate and drank. It was never endings. I think we averaged 6 meals a deal, and I bet we averaged about six toasts per meal. It is completely nuts. I am not a party person, so though it was a great experience, it was a little too much for me.

The New Year celebration is very important in Armenia. Individuals slaughter their best cow, sheep, and/hog for the celebration. The best liquor, cut meats, preserved vegetables and fruits are brought to the table. The holiday reminds me much of Thanksgiving as it is a bit feast of thankfulness, the only difference is that is lasts forever and sleep is not heard of during these days.

Christmas is celebrated on January 6th. It too, is very important, though a more relaxing day. The Armenians are Orthodox Christians, meaning that they stick to the old calendar in which Christmas is celebrated in January.

What else? Oh, I visited some very interesting museums displaying Armenia’s history and the genocide. This history is so fascinating, and I really and continuously each of you to read bits of pieces about it.

I finished a never ending grant with some other PCV’s for our environmental youth summer camps. We have been “conditionally” approve, which is a good sign. I also edited, with the assistance of two other PCVs (Eric and Sarah J-Hi Sarah’s mom J) a rather long document from the Armenian government. My girls’ basketball club ended until the school starts up again. I gracefully received a nice leather basketball from Marita Hynes. Watching the girls play with a new ball sent chills up my spine as their level of play greatly increased. It is amazing what a ball can do for inspiration for the girls. They treated it as if it were a porcelain doll.

Now, I am writing my lesson plans for the next semester. This takes quite some time, I must say.

But before I signal off, I think it is important for me to reflex as 2006 passed quickly, and it was quite a growing experience for me. We live once, but I can honestly say, the past six months have a great impact on me. I would like to list why I am so thankful and have humbled me.

--For a supportive family in the United States.
--For a supportive peer group in all parts of the world.
--For warm showers when they are available.
--For “Syd” time that comes so limited.
--For a cell phone in which I can text other PCVs when a bad day arises.
--For a indoor bathroom
--For the endless letters and packages that you all have sent. This not only gives joy to me, but I always share to others and they are just as thankful.
--For warm water
--For meeting some amazing friends in Armenia
--For the simple things in life that go so far: hugs, hellos, and love.

Here’s wishing you nothing but the best for 2007. May this year be well for you, but also provide you challenges that my seem unconquerable, in which your true self will be seen.



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