Swearing In

The last week or so has seen a big change in the PCV realm of Armenia. All of the A-17s are now gone while the A-19s have officially been sworn in as new volunteers. Whoa!

What that really means is that we’re the next ones to go…ahhh!

It was very cool to be involved in the swearing-in ceremony for the new volunteers. I remember our ceremony from last year very vividly. It is one of the defining moments of your service. Nothing brings out the patriotic spirit like hearing something as beautiful as your own national anthem, meeting your ambassador, and swearing to uphold some stuff (I don’t really remember the oath…)

For whatever reason the ceremony is moving for most of us. It is one of the few times during the 3+ years of applying and serving in Peace Corps where you really do feel the connection to serving on behalf of America. There is a pride, for me, that bubbles to the surface kind of unexpectedly. Maybe it’s because you are not at home. Suddenly after living in a developing or transitioning country you have an amazing appreciation for the rights and freedoms we have as Americans. Not that we did anything to earn our place as babies in America. We were just fortunate to be born in one of the world’s great countries. I could just as easily be Russian, Chinese, or Armenian. So you cherish the opportunity, luxury, and spirit that come along with being American. And I know I wasn’t alone, because there were a lot of other PCVs singing along with the national anthem with their hands over their hearts on Tuesday afternoon.

It was also cool to be able to compare this year’s ceremony with ours last year. The biggest difference was location: Charentsavan vs. Yerevan. The Komitas Concert Hall in Yerevan was a nicer venue, although hotter. This year most of my mental energy was spent telling my sweat glands, especially the armpit ones, to not soak through any of my clothing. Another huge difference was in the volunteer groups. Parts of the ceremony are volunteer performances. Last year we had our own heart-throb Joel sing a nice solo song. We also had a small choir do a couple good songs. This year the new group did all that and more. They did a small play which was interesting. But I have to admit their performances were better because of one man. They have an awesome former music professor in their group. He did a wonderful job of preparing the choir and solo acts. It’s not often that you hear a thrown-together choir that is so balanced and in-tune.

With Anna (PST Language Teacher) and Lizzie

Swearing In 2010: Same Clothes, Different Year

As for being the MC, it was easy once I got the opening out of the way. I was pretty nervous at the beginning and wasn’t sure how I was going to make my mouth speak Armenian. Fortunately I spent the most time on the beginning and so I had it nearly memorized. I was able to go on autopilot which is crucial in a situation where your nerves are trying to get you to self-destruct. I got several compliments from Armenians afterward, which was nice. Now I can check “Public Speaking in a Foreign Language” off the bucket list. It’ll be nice to have that experience in the back pocket the rest of my life. Any time I have to give a speech or presentation in the future, I’ll be able to think, “At least it’s not in Armenian!”

After the opening jitters, I realized that we were going to do fine and that it should be about us celebrating them rather than me being nervous about what I’m doing. I liked that thought and was able to enjoy the rest of the ceremony despite the MC duties. It was especially rewarding to be calling their names as they walked across the stage.

In the end, I am very glad I took the opportunity to be MC. It was something I heard them asking other PCVs to do, and at that moment I thought, “no way do I want to do that!” But now I feel honored and satisfied after accomplishing the task. In this time of transition – saying goodbye to departing friends, welcoming new strangers, and contemplating my own place in the cycle of life – hosting the event was a nice responsibility that I will never forget.

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2 Responses to “Swearing In”

  1. Peter Says:

    Who are the new people coming to Vardenis? Hot chicks? Nerds? Hot chick nerds with the glasses?

  2. icenugget Says:

    Two really cool girls about my age – looking forward to having a good final year in Vardenis with them.

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