I think I am adjusting to my site now. It has been a difficult transition period but now I am feeling a little more comfortable. Why so hard you ask?

First was a traumatic move from my village – saying goodbye to a host family that I enjoyed, all my new friends, my language teachers, and the structure of PST. No more Central Days with the other volunteers and the breaks with little cake squares and Fanta World. No more riding around to the other random villages in PC marshrutkas. No more language class! Plus I broke two water filters during the move, so that was insult to injury.

Plus, I was moving into what felt like total isolation. There really are no volunteers from my group close by. The closest is a 70 year old lady, and while she is sweet, we don’t really have that much in common. There is a volunteer from A-16 (the 16th Armenian group, I am A-18) who is leaving on September 1. There is an A-17 volunteer is a nearby village, but it’s a far cry from Solak where I could walk to 7 other Americans any time I wanted.

I had a lot of concerns about my new village. It’s a lot uglier than my training village. On top of that and feeling alone, I’d been informed that if I complete my service, I’ll be the 5th out of 10 volunteers to make it in Vardenis. There was also the new host family to adjust to, plus a whole new job. Starting a new job is always a bit scary.

The first week was a tough tough one. I knew it would be but that didn’t really help. I was homesick for Solak, lonely, then actually sick, then homesick for America, and just kind of confused/down.

I’m still not totally adjusted, but things are better. There are several things working in my favor. One is another volunteer who came at the exact same time I did. He is from Denmark and is working at the YMCA too. It has been great having him here to talk with and kind of go through the growing pains together. He is here alone so he doesn’t have the support net that PC provides us. It makes me appreciate all the things PC teaches us and provides for us. So we spend a lot of time together. We went on a hike in the surrounding foothills one Saturday afternoon, which provided some beautiful views of Armenia.

Having the A-16 volunteer around, Wayne, has really helped too. I have seen him in action here and it is cool to see his experience at work. He is a great role model for me and I only wish he could be here longer. But I am excited for him to leave too. I kind of get a peak at what it’s like to leave. It looks like the same as when I left the states – lots of loose ends to tie up while the hourglass is ticking away.

We also just got done with a nice camp at the YMCA’s facility near Lake Sevan. It was a weeklong camp for teenagers from all over Armenia. It provided the perfect break from my site to mix things up and also give me something to do (work has been a little slow so far). I lead the leadership day, which consisted of a discussion on the values of leadership, skits, the NASA moon game, and several team games to play. Thankfully Wayne helped me out too! I was worried about filling like 6 hours of time but ended up only having to do about 3, so it was great. Since I don’t have a lot of experience with kids, I had mixed feelings about being at a camp with them for a week, but it went really well. They were a great group of kids and got along surprisingly well considering they ranged in age from 12 to 17. The last day was hard for them, as they were all crying when saying goodbye. I think here they have less of a chance to maintain the friendships they forged than we do in America.

Today it was back to work, where I actually had a busy day. It was nice to get some things done and also line up some upcoming trips. On the 10th I think I’m going to Yerevan for a meeting with a guy from the national YMCA and some other volunteers. Then that weekend there is a get-together in Sevan, which should be fun. Next Tuesday I am going to Gavar for a PC meeting. So there is some travel to look forward to. Even though traveling in Armenia by marshrutka is not fun, the idea of going somewhere or just having something on the calendar is a good feeling.

Overall things are good here. But there are just times when it is really hard to be here too. Yesterday was my mom’s birthday and I couldn’t help having a cry because I missed her and just wanted to be with her. I know it is hard on her and others. I can only hope that the challenges we face now remind us of the bonds we all share and how much people matter. The thing I miss most is not spaghetti, or cold drinking water, or regular showers, or good TV. It’s all the people in my life. So if you are reading this, know that I am thinking about you a lot!

So now it’s 3 months down. I still have so much to learn and do, but now I do feel like I’ve already had a bit of a journey. I’m excited to see the rest of the story.


4 Responses to “”

  1. Beth Crookshank Says:

    I love that you are able to communicate all that you are experiencing – it’s so interesting and I’m truly very impressed by everything you are accomplishing. These are events that can never be taken from you, and I believe will allow you to realize more fulfillment in the years to come than you would be able to feel without having had this experience. I really liked the narrative you had when going to the little shop, and your descriptions of the towns – I can almost picture it all! I’m sure there will be some days that are not so easy, but the payoff in the end will hopefully be worth it all. Keep blogging – I’m already looking forward to living vicariously the next two years

  2. Ben Oberg Says:

    You are going to get so much out of these 24 months! There will be nothing you can’t do after going through an experience like this. Perhaps it might help to know that there are people that are incredibly jealous of the adventure of a lifetime that you are having and will continue to have (I’m definitely one of them!).

    I miss you tons!

  3. ejehle86 Says:

    IceNugget!! Though you’ve had some rough times already, your blog has put me at ease….I leave in 2 weeks for Cameroon!! Keep posting!!!

  4. 2010 in review « IceNugget's Blog Says:

    […] The busiest day of the year was August 29th with 104 views. The most popular post that day was untitled. […]

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