Halfway

Yesterday marked the midpoint of my Peace Corps service in Armenia. As the Armenians say, now I am descending the mountain. It’s a weird thing to think about. But I can feel its presence in my interactions with new volunteers, leaving volunteers, and my own sense of exhaustion with a few aspects of life here.

The last 5 days were spent in a mini excursion throughout the country. My friend Joel and I left Vardenis on Sunday to head out for a 4th of July celebration in Yeghegnadzor. I stayed there for a couple nights and did all kinds of fun things, like swim in a river through a gorge, get my 4th mullet (sorry no pics), and eat homemade sausage. It was a very American time in a very non-American country.

From there I headed to Yerevan, which serves as the central transport hub for the whole country. After a few hours in the capital, a group of us went to Hrazdan to spend the night. Hrazdan is 45 minutes outside of Yerevan and very close to our old PST training villages. The next morning (Wednesday) some of us journeyed to the new PST training center in Nor Hajn to give sessions to the new volunteers.

Lizzie and I presented the HIV initiative, which was kind of ironic since I found myself dreading being a member throughout the year every time we had another pointless meeting in Yerevan. On the whole though it’s a good thing to be involved with – the 6 trainings I’m supposed to oversee this summer are one of the only concrete things I have going on right now. Needless to say the trainees were captivated by my mullet/moustache combo; we should see membership skyrocket in the fall.

It was a big day because all of the new volunteers learned where they would spend their next 2 years. It was also the first time the current volunteers were invited to meet and interact with the newbies. My efforts in handing out applications and making an awkward speech in front of a room full of school directors paid off. Vardenis will receive 2 female PCVs come August. Thus, I won’t be the lone American here and I just might avoid going crazy in my 2nd year of service.

That night I spent in a Peace Corps apartment rented out specifically for trainers in the village of Argel. I was there with 4 other PCVs. Thursday I woke up and did a session on culture in the workplace. After that I finally began the winding journey home, completely exhausted of people. I survived the heat of Yerevan, a near accident in a marshrutka, and made it into the last seat of the Vardenis marshrutka. As we left Yerevan I had to count my blessings, despite my crappy mood, as we passed the previous 2 Vardenis marshrutkas broken down within the city limits.

Now here I am, mulletless but with a moustache. It gives me a police officer/latin American/ O Brother Where Art Thou appearance. Although to me it is funny/weird to be 25 with a moustache, the Armenians don’t seem to notice. They do notice the haircut quite a bit and they love the short look. I got a lot of shit for long hair over the past couple months. One thing I learned is that the mullet is culturally accepted and even seen as a great haircut. Awesome!

Should it stay or should it go?

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6 Responses to “Halfway”

  1. Emma J. Says:

    It should stay. You should rock this Yonder Mountain look for a bit longer. Congrats on one year in country!!! We just welcomed our next group and I’ve already met my new postmate. So crazy that we’re not the babies anymore.

    Also, RICE method a delicious success…I can walk again!

  2. Peter Says:

    Congrats on yet another milestone!

    I think it should stay and then go and come back again. Those two female PCV’s won’t be able to contain themselves!

  3. icenugget Says:

    Acknowledging that this blog is just becoming a series of ridiculous photos of myself, I appreciate the sound advice I am getting in the comments section. I feel you are both right; this stache’s time isn’t quite done yet.

    You already met your sitemate Emma? Do you guys work on a replacement cycle that is quicker than 12 months?

  4. Ben Says:

    Kevin jan,
    You look so avant-garde. I love it! It looks like you’re a part time sculptor, part time barista living in Seattle, and I’m a huge fan.
    Take care brother.

  5. Jared Walsh Says:

    Kev,

    They should stay…You look like a young Thomas Cruise (South Park Voice). Speaking of south Park, the most epic Mr. Mackie Episode aired a couple of weeks ago. Ask Ben Yorke to do his impersonation, its classic!

    JMW

  6. icenugget Says:

    The only place on the internet that mentions avant-garde and Mr. Mackey in one comment thread. This readership is one in a million.

    Uh, I love you guys, mkay?

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