The Mayor of Vardenis is an Asshole and The Poetry Contest That Could

It’s the night before our big poetry contest. We’ve been planning and preparing for 1 month. We’ve got agreement to use the music school and its nice concert hall. We have certificates. We have judges. We have prizes. We even have some interested kids. Everything is set. We just pray that some participants show up the next day. Suddenly, my phone rings. It’s my counterpart. She’s nervous. This isn’t going to end well, is it?

She informs me that there’s a problem. The music school director has called her and told her that we can’t do the contest there anymore. The night before. Why? Because when she called the mayor to inform him of the contest, he barked that he didn’t know about it beforehand and thus it wasn’t going to happen.

Now, obviously, this makes the mayor an asshole. Acting as a wrench to some international volunteers trying to organize something fun, educational, and meaningful for the kids in your downtrodden community? Brilliant. It doesn’t take a genius to know this contest is something you want to encourage in your town.

What kind of man tries to shut down a free competition for kids? Oh, that’s right, this kind of man:

His children are the most privileged in town. He walks around with a smug grin on his face. The thing that burns me most is how much more he’s probably done that I don’t know about. Words can’t really express what I’d like to do to this schmoozing sack of shit.

Why is it that the people who most need a great leader so often get stuck with the dredges of developing world life? The last thing the people of Vardenis need is a lying, conniving, insincere, and completely short-sighted douchebag parading around as their leader. I mean, on top of 75% unemployment, a winter that lasts 6 months, inflation of 10% a year, ridiculously crappy schools, roads that are more a series of potholes and bumps than they are something to drive on, trash everywhere, literally no places for entertainment, and low quality goods that cost an entire paycheck, the last thing you need is an asshole mayor.

So, he tried to ruin our day.

We still pulled off a great poetry contest thanks to my awesome counterpart and our amazing custodian at the Y.

Switching venues the night before meant that our custodian would have to come in and work all day on a Saturday. I felt bad about that. Her life is hard enough as it is. I came in this morning and helped her as much as I could getting ready. Then I went and stood in front of the music school in order to direct everyone to the Y.

Organizing the contest was stressful because of the unknowns involved. It can be hard to get Armenians to plan in advance and also to get them to participate in things. I was concerned about participation on multiple levels. First, I was not really sure if the 22 people who said they were coming would actually come. Would there be enough for a contest? Also, I had no idea if there would be random mystery participants. There were 2 whole schools from which we didn’t know if we’d have participants (they ended up not sending any students). Having a finite number of prizes, certificates, and now, seats in the smaller YMCA concert hall, these were legit concerns.

Thankfully, we had a great turnout with 20 participants. All of the judges came and were great. One by one the girls took the stage and nervously recited their poems. I was proud of them for even coming, let alone getting on a stage and reciting poems in a foreign language. Some of them forgot parts of their poems. Some of them recited like robots. A few read with emotion. And one really put her heart into it, which did not go unnoticed by the judges (she got the highest overall score). Not surprisingly, she is a chronic YMCA attendee. My counterpart, the custodian, and even my counterpart’s husband were beaming with pride after she annihilated her poem. The Armenians broke out into rhythmic clapping for the only time of the day. For those unaware, rhythmic clapping, although slightly creepy to me, is a sign of true adoration from Armenian crowds.

Packed house!

A few had cool confidence

Many were meek

And one stole the show

The joys of judging

Everyone got certificates and those who placed got prizes. There were smiles and phone calls home informing parents which place they received as we said goodbye. The winners came up to give me their information for the national contest, where they’ll proudly represent this little corner of Armenia.

The contest was a success, despite the mayor’s efforts to thwart us. I am happy, relieved, and thankful for all the help. Laura did as much or more than I did. She was a great partner to work with in organizing this event. It was a big team effort and great to see it come together.

Certificates: treasured disproportionately to their cost


5 Responses to “The Mayor of Vardenis is an Asshole and The Poetry Contest That Could”

  1. Wayne Burt Says:

    So tell me how you really feel about the mayor. Kudo’s to you for rolling with the punches and showing the Vardenisians that you don’t give in to their mayor.

    It appears Lusine was the big winner. She also was a winner a few years back and was cheated out of going further in the competition when organizers in Martuni failed to keep us informed of the next round. Please don’t have her go through that again.

    I don’t know one of your judges, the lady in the blue coat, but the others were certainly fine choices.

  2. icenugget Says:

    Lusine has a talent. She got 1st or 2nd last year in Martuni. For sure we’ll make sure she gets to the national contest.

    The judge you don’t know is a wonderful PCV from Sevan. That’s also why you don’t know her! I was quite impressed with the judging panel myself.

  3. Peter Says:

    Wow, dude makes Sean Streaty look like a saint. Too bad you can’t run for mayor. Perhaps you can ruin him before you leave? Surely someone like you can think of an elaborate plan. What do they use to egg houses over there, khorovats?

  4. icenugget Says:

    +1,000,000 for Sean Streaty reference. WOW! I forgot about that. How did you remember it?

  5. Peter Says:

    Because I never forgot the old!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: