Craziness

7/25/10 –
The last 2 weeks have been very busy. Part of that is the PC schedule right now, and the other part is the family life.

This is our practicum time, so every day last week we went to Charentsavan in the afternoon to work in groups preparing trainings for this week. We have to teach NGO staff members various topics. It is a daunting task considering none of us have worked at an NGO before. There is nothing like being taught by someone who hasn’t ever really done your job. I will be teaching Time Management. We have to go to Yerevan every day this week. The lesson is supposed to be 2 hours long. I’m concerned mine won’t fill all the time. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve never taught a class before. And without easy internet access or library access or anything, it has been a struggle to put together a nice presentation.

Our “NGO” teaching group lost a member this week – one lady decided to early terminate (ET). She is the 3rd one of us to leave. Everytime someone leaves it feels a little weird. I can’t help but imagine going home to all the conveniences. I think we all think about that. And then there’s the morbid thought of who’s next. Out of 58 people we’re not going to lose just 3. We will probably end up being around 40 or 45 people when it’s all said and done…

So on top of language every day and practicum, my family has expanded the last 2 weeks. My host mom’s sister and her family are visiting from France. They have 2 young daughters. It is interesting to hear people speak Armenian with a French accent. And for possibly the only time in my life, I can say I have played with little French girls. They discovered my juggling balls (buhball! as they say) and were infatuated for at least 3 days. There has been a bumper crop of family activities since this is such a special visit. At one point I think we partied at Grandma’s house 3 nights in a row, including full feast and cake.

Last night we celebrated a fellow village-mate’s birthday. We ate at a nice restaurant in Charentsavan. I blew through a wad of dram, but it was well worth it. It was a much needed time to relieve some stress with the sitemates. We will all be parting ways soon so it was a good bonding experience too. The funny thing to me is it got “real” about 2 weeks ago. After we came back from our site visits my village mates began venting their frustrations about their situations and other people we know. I was waiting for this to happen. ..it has led to a lot of laughs and a closer bond amongst our village.

Last weekend we went to Garni and Geghard monastery. It was beautiful and touristy, you know. We also went to the ski-resort town of Tsaghkhadzor to play kickball with the older volunteers. That little town was very appealing. It’s like a European anomaly inside Armenia.

There is not too much else to report. I did laundry by hand for the first time today. I am trying to enjoy the rest of my time in Solak, but I also have one eye on the future in Vardenis. I am excited to get through our practicum. It will be cool to swear in but sad to say goodbye to everyone. That’s when it will truly be the Peace Corps experience…

Food adventures: “cooked” my first meal here while home alone (reheated something on the stove…a small victory), got to try kachmeruk (sp?) a cheese-filled pastry, tried ttu lavash (sour lavash) which is a dried fruit thingy like a fruit roll up, tried the homemade Armenian snickers which is nuts covered in a rubbery molasses. Have yet to eat anything solid that I dislike. Tan is another story.

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