Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Ain't Gonna Work On Maggie's Farm No More

Barev everyone!

[Kelsey] you would be pleased to know that the eight of us in my village have made ourselves an Armenian summer bucket list. I crossed off a few things last week.

1) Learn to milk a cow. I was so excited when my sister told me I could learn how to milk one. Then, I got up close and personal with the cow. Cows don't take showers here. It is so much harder than it looks too! I was so happy to have tried it but am thankful it is not one of my daily chores. Then, a few days later, my sister had me milk it again. Afterwards, I restrained the goats and sheep (they don't shower either) while she milked those.

2) Learn Armenian-style dance. Our LCST's (Language, Culture, and Society Trainers) took us to Yerevan, the capital, on Friday night. We gathered with a couple hundred other Armenians and learned tradition Armenian dance...which is awesome. We had so much fun! Afterwards, we went to the Republic Square and watched the "dancing fountains" (like at the Belagio in Vegas...ok, like a step down from the Belagio Fountain).

3) Learn how to make coffee. Ok, I am not a coffee fan at all. In fact, I am a fully devoted Iced Grande Soy Chai fan to the core. Unfortunately, coffee is all I got...and it wins points with locals. I learned how to make coffee here and must be pretty good at it because my host father requests me make his 10pm cup nightly now.

In addition to these experiences, I have started a morning mostly walk/sometimes run routine here. I head a little ways out of town and on the way back have the glorious view of snowy Mount Aragot. It is such a great daily reminder that I am lucky to be here. Our language teacher is quick to remind us that Mt Aragot is the tallest Mountain in the "Republic of Armenia" but not in all of Armenia :)

***Fun Fact: Armenians must have a recessive red head gene because everyone once in awhile we see a red head. We have one red head boy in our village and three of us are red headed so I am happy that we upped the ratio.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Barev! I had a fun and interesting weekend and so I thought I'd walk to the internet cafe to update everyone.

The World Cup began last week. It is probably the only thing I understand on Armenian television at this point. I watched some of that on Friday. I also went to a friend Alex's to watch some sheep sheering take place. I live in quite a different place these days.

On Saturday, a bunch of volunteers got together for kickball, soccer, and frisbee. Then, we went to watch some more 'football' at a cafe in Charentsevan to cool down. It was great to see other trainees that do not live in my village.

Yesterday was a family holiday in my village. The men would wake up early and slaughter a family sheep. I tried to tell my family the night before that I wanted to watch the slaughtering (what a great cultural experience). However, we had a huge language miscommunication. I was woken up in the morning and told to go. I put my skirt on and was accompanied by my little host cousin. Then, we started to run. So I ran in a skirt outside of town instead of seeing the animal slaughter....oh well.

Later in the day, we went to this old church up the mountain to light candles. My father is a taxi driver in the capital of Yerevan so we took his big van to the church. The ride was like a roller coaster (so much that a little girl got sick...not so pleasant). After the church, we went back to the house and were greeted by at least twenty family members. And then, we ate. I accidentally sat at the men's side of the table (breaking down gender norms one day at a time). This was funny because they tried to get me to toast with them and eat meat. They even looked up the word "attempt" in my dictionary....and so I did. That might have been a mistake because there was meat awaiting me at the breakfast table this morning. Luckily, I know two ways to say, "No."

I hope everyone is doing well. Please fill me in on life at home....just don't mention Jimmy John's, I might get jealous.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two weeks in Armenia!

I cannot believe how much I have done here since we arrived. I spent the first few days in hotel with 57 other trainees learning the basics to Peace Corps life and simple Armenian language. Last week, we moved in with our host families. I am in a small village of appx 300 people along with 7 other PC trainees. We go to language class from 9-1pm everyday and spend the rest of our day studying, eating, and....eating.

Although I miss home terribly, I am having such a great experience here! Every morning I am woken up by one of my farm animals (usually the featherless rooster). The scenery in Armenia is spectacular! Our village group went on a 6 hour hike this past weekend and ate lunch on the mountain peak (ok, it might have just been a large hill).

Culture shock comes in two forms for me:

A) the food. Vegetariansim seems to be unfamiliar here so that has presented some challenges. A regular meal for me consists of cucumbers, lavash (tortilla bread), cheese, and beans or potatoes.

B) gender roles. My feminist self is very intrigued by the new found domestic roles and conservative public front.

Well, I must go. We are exchanging dance moves with my friend's host sister! Thanks for all of your support! I look forward to taking more time and effort making this blog worth the read!