Friday, June 29, 2012


Although time has been hard to come by these past couple weeks, I really wanted to wrap up with a couple blog posts.

Over two years ago I came to Armenia.  Now, it's time to pack up and say some very hard goodbyes to some very amazing and generous people.  I have spent nearly every day this week saying good bye to 3-4 more people.  Today is my last day in my apartment. Tomorrow I spend a night with my wonderful host family and then Tuesday is the big day- I head to the US (right in time for 4th of July).

While packing, I came across my journal from my first days in the Peace Corps.  I actually thought I would be able to document my experience but much like this blog, time slipped away.  Here's a couple entries:

Danelle and I in Goris, Armenia
May 27, 2010:
Yesterday was the first day of my Peace Corps journey.  And quite the journey has it been thus far!  I arrived at O'Hare with Heather, mom, and dad.  We said our painful goodbyes and parted ways.  Mascara running down m face, I boarded the plane, all the while thinking, "What the **** did you just get yourself into?!"....After staging, I met my hotel roommate Danelle and we ae jumbo slices of greasy cheese piza, can't get too much more American that that. ...Today was a nice, relaxing morning.We didn't have to be in the lobby until 11:45am so I got my last Iced Grande Soy Chai from Starbucks and called mom and dad. 
James and his outhouse

May 30, 2010:
It seems like so long ago that joining the Peace Corps was just an idealistic dream of mine, that set me apart from family and friends.  Now, I am a part of it!  When our flight arrived in Yerevan, we were greeted by PC staff and some enthused currently serving volunteers (too enthused for 5am).  We got on 2 buses and headed to Zvarnots, ancient ruins.  There, I had my first Armenian experience- the bathrooms. It was an indoor facility but nontheless, a squat, no need to flush toilet....

Training host brother, Vartan and his mom, Lucine
June 13, 2010
Life sure is different here in the village of Fantan! A couple nights ago I watched one of my village mate's help sheer his family sheep.  Today, the village is celebrating a holiday. From what I understand, the family goes to a church to 'sacrifice' an animal then they come home and feast (if I think they eat a lot now, I can't wait to see what feasting is like).

Perhaps I'll add some more later but right now, I must go say yet another goodbye.


Thursday, April 5, 2012


Our near and dear friend, Gayane, showed us how to make both meat and "Pasuts" (lent/vegetarian) dolma. The meat dolma is pictured above on the left and made with ground beef and rice, wrapped in grape leaves. The vegetarian dolma on the right is made with an assortment of beans and grains and is wrapped in cabbage. It is a tedious process but not difficult. Dolma is a traditional Armenian dish served at large gatherings such as New Years. Find a recipe here or just wait a few more months and we can make it together!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

St. Patrick's Day for the Gegharkunik Marz

Our Marz (Region) had it's first gathering together for St. Patrick's Day. We combined the traditional corn beef and cabbage, Irish Soda Bread, green beer with a unique twist....psychic abilities. Each of us had to bring a perfected psychic ability to the party and then we mingled and introduced them to each other. It was an odd idea that turned out really fun! Aura reading anyone?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's a Girl.

"Female infanticide is the intentional killing of baby girls due to the preference for male babies and from the low value associated with the birth of females." (Marina Porras, "Female Infanticide and Foeticide".)

Armenia's rates of gender selective abortions are only second to China.

Outside of Armenia, it's happening in places like China, India, Azerbaijan, Georgia, etc.

"It's a Girl. The three deadliest words in the world."
Let us stop killing our daughters.

Friday, February 10, 2012

GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) is a girl's leadership and empowerment project in Armenia put on by Stepanavan Youth Center (SYC) and Peace Corps Volunteers. Girls ages 13-16 from all regions of Armenia participate in this program. It starts with a 7 day residential summer school where approximately 50 girls learn about health, gender issues, human rights, etc and develop skills like team building, confidence, public speaking, and leadership. Following summer school, many girls organize educational projects in their own community and write articles about them for the GLOW bi-annual newsletter. SYC also hosts follow up educational seminars in some of the girls' communities. This year will mark the 5th successful year of GLOW and what better way to celebrate then donating to this project. Donations go towards things like housing, food, printed materials, transportation, etc.
Listed below is the link if you are considering giving a tax deductible donation. Just copy and paste into your web browser:

To check out the GLOW blog and learn more about the project, visit:

Thanks for your support!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving, slightly altered.

Three days of food with Americans and Armenians. Charlie Brown Thanksgiving; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Grandma's Corn Pudding; Turkey hats; mulled wine; carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Overall, success!


Thanks Rachel for the peanuts and candy corn!

Looking forward to spending next Thanksgiving in good old Woodstock, Illinois!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October Update

I can't believe it is already November 1st! Time is flying and I'm trying to enjoy every moment of my last year. Take a look at what I have been up to in the month of October:

I learned how to create a stop motion and make a little video. This was made by my friend Kathryn, my little host sister, Gayane, and I, but mostly Gayane. She is 13 years old and very creative! Take a look!

I took a trip down south a few weekends ago to the "wine region" of Armenia for the village of Areni's annual Wine Festival. A weekend of homemade wine is a great thing! Here are some pictures:

During the month of October, my sitemates Morgan and Kathryn, and I organized 6 seminars on Domestic Violence and Gender Equality and 1 DV event where we watched a film, displayed artwork, gave resources on DV agencies in Armenia and had a great organization, Society Without Violence, come and speak. Domestic Violence education was something I really wanted to do during my service and I'm glad we succeeded! Here is an article they posted on their website about the event!

And here is a picture from one of the school seminars (thanks for the photo Morgan!):

And Finally, a group of us gathered in the NE of Armenia for this past weekend to celebrate Halloween. Rocky Horrow, Costumes, etc ensued. I was a "Freudian Slip." Living in a foreign country makes you that much more excited to celebrate American traditions. (Photo courtesy of Fred)