Saturday, August 04, 2007

Green Camps down and out....

Privet my Friends (Hello=Privet=Russian)
WOW, the summer has flown by! The PC team in Armenia has completed 5 summer youth “Green Camps”, that focus on environmental protection. I got to put on my "camp hat" and be the programmer for the series of camps, which took me all over the country, from the north to the south, and really, not so much to the east or west, as there is not much of the “east” or “west” of Armenia. :)
I loved being in the ‘camp atmosphere’ once again, though conducting camp in another tongue presents its challenges, as well as requiring communities to implement something they have never done before. But that is why PCVs are in other countries, to transfer skills. I am just very electrified that one way I was able to transfer some skills was through kids' camps and of course the various camp songs that I have tried to translate. For all of you whom recognize “I said a BOOM CHICA BOOM” song, just know that many little children in Armenia are still screaming this song! :) I just hope after teaching the kids this song, the communities invite me back! :) I will forever be known in some places as the “BOOM CHICA BOOM” girl. I guess that is a title I sure can live with.
Above, you will see some pictures. I probably should explain them. The first picture is that of two of my camping buddies, Rud, who I have developed a common-law marriage with as we have been working on Green Camps together since last November, and Jill, the former camp guru from last year. It is a beautiful outlook of Lake Sevan from Sevanavank, a monastery, which 50 years ago was surrounded by water, but now it is a peninsula. This is the same lake that I see in my “backyard” from my apartment’s balcony…Oh, yah, Rud and I are not really married, or even close too thinking of such a thing. He cooks, I do dishes. He does the budgeting, I do the programming. We just complemented each other and we were together the WHOLE summer and we are still friends…quite amazing that we did not ring each other’s throats…

The second picture and fifth pictures commemorate my new love of international soccer, or as the rest of the world calls, football. Armenia has a national team called “Pyunik” which I am told means some type of bird. After a long day at camp, we jumped on a village bus with some local villagers, about 35 in total and went to the capital city to cheer on the Armenian team who was playing a club team from Ireland. It was a big 2-0 win for Pyunik as Armenia has slowly dipped into the top 100. For all of you that know me, it had been over a year since I attended any type of sporting event. So you can just imagine how excited I was. I sunk into peer pressure and allowed my Armenia friends to paint the Armenian flag on my face, as well as my friend Allyson’s. The stadium were the game was played only sits 20,000 but there was about 13.000 in attendance for this game. My little friend brought this Armenian flag (which we took down from the village’s mayor’s office) and flew it proudly.

The third picture is the array of Green Camp T-shirts that all staff and campers had to wear. My white T-shirt made the journey of 5 camps=30 days of sweat and grit=and still stayed white! I had to start washing it more though, towards the end of the series of camps. Here is one day, where we made a mandatory washing day, as the temperature reached about 106 that day.

Last but not least, is that of Mt. Ararat. The beloved mountain on which, supposedly artifacts from Noah’s Ark have been found. It is a beautiful mountain that unfortunately sits in Turkey. If there is one thing the Armenians want; it is this mountain. It has much spiritual value to it, and this means a lot to a country that was the first in the world to declare its nation as a Christian province in 301AD. There are many amazing views of Mt. Ararat, and this one is just from a friend’s porch. (Mrs. Z, this is a shot from your daughter’s balcony. Also, you would be proud; your daughter ran an amazing camp. She is doing great work here!!!).
So camp has ended, and soon the new trainees will be sworn in as volunteers. The old volunteers for the most part, have made their ways back to the US, leaving the group I came with as the veterans now. Wow, it is so weird not to be the rookie anymore. We had our language test and midservice conference this past week and had a chance to reflect "on a year in country". It was a humble experience to see how we have adapted to another culture, learned a very complicated language, talk about our successes, and laugh about our early struggles. We came as a team and still are a team. Wow, it has been a year already.
Other than that, I just finished writing a grant to restore a new English classroom in the school. It will be posted, I hope, by September 1st, on the PC website. This is a type of grant where anyone can donate if they would like. Many people were asking me and emailing me in ways in which they could help me during my experience. This idea combined with the need of classroom for English gave me the idea to write a grant. I will keep you posted on its progress.

Sports balls of all sorts and uniforms were sent proudly from the US by the National Collegiate Athletic Association as well as Mitchell College. The village received these gifts with high regards and cannot wait to modestly wear the uniforms and use the sport balls. My sincere thanks to Peter Davis and Stacey Kelly. I wish you all could witness how much this means to my school :)
....I gave some seminars here and there between the Green Camps. One seminar on resume writing, I actually did in Armenian, which poised as a shock to me! There was a translator for about 30 minutes, but the presentation ended up being over 2 hours! How unfortunate for the Armenians that I am able to talk that much. I bet they are wishing I was new again and only carry limited conversations! Don’t get me wrong, I still have a long ways to go with my language learning, but I know enough to chat some peoples’ ears off if I can control the conversation :)
So, school will start soon, on September 1st. Until then, I have some village work to do, preparation for classes, and maybe there is some vacation time in the future. This update is a bit more relaxed and random, but I hope you enjoyed it.
Happy Birthdays: Stacie, Laurel, Julian, Cole, Jim, Katie Duerf, Clayton F, Andrea, Justinn, Michigan Dad Jim,
Happy Wedding: Amber and Sean, Todd and new wife, Julie and Mitch, Happy Anniversary: Jim and Jen, Steph and Brian
Also, Thanks for the Cheetos Mrs. Cooney.