Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy New Year

Howdy from the bitter cold of Armenia! I hope this update finds you all warm and happy as 2008 is in full gear! With my water pipes frozen and little warmth, my friend cut my hair….check it out! (PS, I did not edit this, so sorry for grammar error).

The holiday season was much more eventful this year. On December 19th, a couple of PCVs and I were chatting about what we were going to do for the holidays. Soon, it was decided that we would gather at my place. With that said, I did not have any heat in my home, and thinking that others would not want to bring layers and layers of clothing to stay warm, I decided to by a gas heater. It was definitely the best investment of 2008 as my two rooms average about 55F rather than 30F! My kitchen and toilet area, however, well, let’s just say your breath can be seen J

The holiday was spent with my dear PCV friends, a small gathering of us, as well as some of my Armenian co-workers. We sang, ate, celebrated, and rejoiced. Not one present was opened, though Santa Claus via Strongsville, Ohio, found his way to my home on Christmas morning. Thank you Santa J My Armenian co-workers speak English, but of course, we us PCVs gather, we speak so quickly and probably with a lot of slang. The Armenians told me that now they understand how us Americans feel when we go through the Armenian celebrations. We understand, but not everything J it was a nice culture exchange to say the least.

School let out December 23rd to January 21st. The New Year holiday is the biggest event in Armenia. It is truly celebrated for two straight weeks! It is common to lay a table of delicious fruits, nuts, traditional foods of kufta (smashed meat), and dolma (meat and rice wrapped in grape leaves or cabbage), lots of vodka, champagne, wine, and soda. I think you get my drift. It is quite a festival toasting to all the joys in the world. I visited over 20 homes and with that I consumed God only knows how much food! However, I can give you just a dolma estimate…about five dolma per home…yah, 100 dolma not even counting all the other things I consumed ;)

It was a blast with no sleep for the first couple of days. Christmas Day is celebrated on January 6th commemorating the old holiday. There is about a four hour church service and it is one of the few days in which holy water is given to the congregation.

During this time, I went back to my training village and spent a couple of days with my first host family, whom I love dearly! We had a wonderful time and I ate too much! In one day, I had four types of khoravats (like barbeque) and needless to say, my body couldn’t’ handle it! L

I also visited some other PCVs and some came down my way for work and of course social gathering. Not doubt, most of my time was spent in the village; also preparing for the Armenian National Spelling Bee, Inter-Caucasus Writing Olympics, fixing an English classroom at school, and working on various summer camp curricula. The time has really passed by quickly, that is for sure.

Other news, is that I have been selected to serves as a Pre-Departure Orientation Teacher for the FLEX (Future Leaders’ Exchange) in which I will prepare the out-going Armenian students about American families, friends, society, school systems, and cultural. This program is offered to the Eurasia countries in which in-coming 10th form students will study in the US for free under the finance of the US government. It is a wonderful program which students get a chance to live in a democratic society, learn about volunteerism, share cultures, and live in the experience. I am really excited about this opportunity and I cannot wait to start the work. It will require one week training in Moscow in April, followed by a summer two-week program for the students in which I will team-teach with a FLEX Alumni. It will be a great learning experience for all those involved.

So it is 2008, that means that my two years of service is in its final leg, so to speak. August 2008 I will be on my way back to the soil of the US, for some time that is. I am not for sure what the future holds, but my options are open. I will say, that this international education and cross culture experience is quite intriguing to me and I would like to find ways in which I could continue this path. Learning to understand each other is just a beginning, experiencing this exchange has a chance to change the world, and I enjoy being apart of this exhilarating ride! But no worries, no matter what, I will be US bound in August.

I cannot believe that PC Headquarters is already choosing the Armenian PCVs for the coming year. It is nuts how fast time flies when one gets older….is that a good thing?

I thank all of you who sent cards, packages, and nice words via internet during the holidays. It really touches my heart that you all think of me. The holidays, without a doubt, can be the toughest part of service. However, your thoughts make the time pass with warm and tender feelings.

Having a year to reflect, I cannot believe some of the quantitative goals I have achieved. Never would I have thought I would go to Egypt and wonders of the world; attempt to scuba dive; win three grants for various projects; successfully implement five environmental camps throughout the country; see Georgia and the Black Sea with dear friends; have my parents cross US borders to visit my life and me; implement various new activities at school; train for a marathon with the support from everyone in the village; complete a marathon; and so much more. Though it had its difficulties, 2007 provided me with a memorable year with lots of Kodak moments. I hope that you all have time to think about your 2007 and see what you have accomplished and what challenges you faced that will bring a new light in 2008!

Here’s to you and 2008!
Happy Birthdays: Dave C, Linda W. Becca (hey rooomie), Dad
Happy Anniversary: Katie! One year! Way to go Upchuck!
Late Bday: Lorin, Bobby
New baby: Cicely and Devard J

1 comment:

Terra said...

Kudos, Syd! It goes to show that the more involved you get in your PC experience, the more fulflling it truly is what you make it! Congrats on being selected for FLEX PDO trainer! You will love it! The experience was hard work but a blast when I participated. Try to spend a few more days in Russia after the training, it's a hard place to get a visa for, so take advantage of the opportunity! Stay warm...spring is slowly approaching. Hugs, Terra