Saturday, October 13, 2007

My Parents Came!!!


Phew, now that I got that out of my system…this picture from my balcony...pretty sunset, eh?

Privyet! I thought I would throw some Russian your way, as “Privyet” holds the meaning of “hello”. No, I am not intentionally studying another language. It is just that some Russian words have been incorporated into the Armenian language, as you may know, from the years Armenian was under Soviet leadership. So yes, my stay in Armenia has truly become a “multi-cultured” experience!

Well, as you may have known, my parents took off their worn “American shoes” and tested a new pair in Armenian. For one week, I was surrounded by the presence of my wonderful parents, who themselves ventured away from their native land for the first time. We had a wonderful time and I tried to absorb them into the ultimate Armenian experience. We traveled as much as time would allow us (one week in Armenia is short!!!), which took us to my village for three days. Here my Dad was taken back to the days of the bucket baths, and Mom was lectured on village customs…aka No Smoking. They enjoyed every custom meal Armenian has to offer: khoravats, dolma, spas, many salads, meats, and course, the most delicious fruits and vegetables you will ever taste in your life!!!! I think if you asked my parents, they will definitely tell you that they left Armenian with full stomachs, as the hospitality in Armenia is a friendly never-ending affair. I believe they truly enjoyed the village life, though different, and even to this day the villagers are constantly speaking about “Sydi man ev pan ekan!” meaning “Syd’s Mom and Dad came”! They were and still are celebrities in the village. Many villagers commented on how young Mom and Dad looked, and a couple of grandmas mistaken Mom and Dad as my sister and brother. I guess that is a compliment to my parents, but me?? :) Some are even convinced that Dad is a famous actor. Now, I have NO idea where that comes from, but they are convinced that this handsome man, who in fact is my father, is at the moment, on set, preparing for his next movie!

We also traveled up to the Mid-Northern Region to see my first host family. Of course, Mom and Dad fit right in with them, and soon, my host dad and Dad were communicating through various hand signals and head nods. The kids loved Mom and thought she was a hit. This trip was followed with an eventful taxi ride home in which made us all chuckle, as random events kept occurring. From the taxi, we saw a sheep fall from a cliff, the taxi driver calling every police man a dog, and we saw just how quickly Dad can put on his seat belt when the cops are approaching. (Seat belt laws just went in effect this year, though most cars do not have seat belt.). It was quick hilarious, as Dad is not known for his “Cat-like” reflexes,

Of course we visited the some historical sites of Garni, Geghard, and Noravank. Garni is a restored 1st century temple, which was restored with its pure rocks after an earthquake in the 17th century destroyed it. It is the only pagan temple left in Armenia; as all others were ruined or demolished. Geghard is a 9th century monastery which was carved out of the mountain. It was carved from the top down, and the inscriptions inside of this monastery and its chambers are amazing. Unfortunately it is quite dark inside I am not able to show you this highlights. Lastly, Noravank is known for its beautiful scenery and crazy steps. Here, this monastery sits in the semi-arid part of Armenia. Mom and Dad now can attest that Armenia really does make up about 32 different climates, and they only saw ¼ of the country.

The rest of the time, was enjoyed by the 16th anniversary of Armenia’s independence from the Soviet rule, a private little tour of Yerevan, and spending time with my dearest Armenian friends. We chatted and chatted, and ate and ate, with Dad taking in a random nap or two during the conversations. (Jet lagged). But this didn’t’ seem to bother my friends, as they found it quite entertaining and took pictures. They have already stated that they are waiting for my parents’ arrival to Armenia again! In short, my parents were a “hit” in Armenia!

As it was magnificent to have my parents interact with what I have been absorbed in the past year and some, it was time for them to head back home, and they time passed too quickly. So, after the departure of my parents, it was back to reality, which was weird. I had spent so much time with them, and all of a sudden they were gone!

Despite coming from the low without my parents, the other day I was reminded of the reason why I am in Armenia. You see, during this experience, it is very customary to have ups and downs, and as I said, I was on the descending rollercoaster after my parents left. I took a student to the final round of a competition in which if she passes the third round, she can go to the US and study for free, for one year. She is already a success for making it this far, being the only villager in the competition from our region/marz. Plus, it is the first time a student from our village has participated in such a competition. Again, already a winner. She did well, and advanced to the application stage. Unfortunately her parents would like her stay in Armenia. But it was a huge event for her and the whole village. I am so proud of her!

As I sat watching/helping her fill out her application, I was intrinsically overcome by tears of happiness. In most cases, villagers are overlooked and not given a fair chance. Of course, this is my own opinion and observation, but I truly confide it my findings. Anyways, I sat looking and thinking how she is a “pure” product from the village. I have never tutored her, but only presented the opportunity that the program existed. Normally, word of such programs rarely reached outside of Yerevan, the capital city, without the help of Peace Corps Volunteers. And that is why I am in Armenia. You see, as you all know, I am probably not the best choice for an English teacher, as you may have already known, or have come from the conclusion from my blog updates. Don’t get me wrong, being a native speaker helps tremendously, but really, most of the teachers who know English, can tell me more about the grammar rules that I can dream about! But that is not the sole reason I am here. I am here to present new opportunities. Opportunities in which other people, whether, students, adults, teachers, community members, and the youth have fortune to expand their horizons in so many avenues; through educational programs, learning about the American culture, having pen-pals in the US, providing sports and English clubs free of charge, or my favorite, just sitting and chatting with my neighbors about life. Maybe we watch my cousin’s American wedding or maybe they want to know why my clothes are so different, bright, and colorful. They truly don’t grasp why I don’t like coffee or that I can’t sit down for a long period of time. But they understand that I am different, and that understanding creates an opportunity in which true friendships have been formed. I am surrounded by fantastic people, who appreciate my presence, but even more I have valued the opportunity that they have given me…It is true, what goes around, comes around. But this time, it is coming around too fast!

It is already cold. My room is at 50F as we speak, and snow is falling in the mountains already. Yikes! I just got gas in my home, so maybe it will be warm, but it is not hooked up into any type of heating system, just my stove. The sunlight is only around for about 10 hours, which makes my final month of marathon training interesting. Yes, I have decided to participate. I have run more miles these past three months that I did when I was competing in college, holy cow. I ran a 20 miler and didn’t die! The villagers think I am crazy running so much, but they think I am crazy without my running, so I guess it just provides more entertainment for them.

Classes are going well. I am really busy this year, and I have my hands in many other secondary projects. But of course, I still have my exchange programs with the students. We really enjoy writing to each other. It is such a highlight!

Well, I have provided you with many updates in the past month, so I will let you all rest until November…

Until then, I wish the Cubs would have won!!
Պաիչիկ և Գրկումներ—Kisses and Hugs

Happy Birthday: Suzanne, Stacy, Jill
Thanks to all of you who sent cards for me through my parents!!!