Monday, February 21, 2011


Dear Friends,

After living in Armenia for nearly nine months, I have witnessed a critical gender gap that is seldom addressed in Armenian society. I am proud to work with the Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) program this coming summer to address this issue. GLOW offers adolescent girls life-changing self-development opportunities in a fun and friendly atmosphere. The girls will have a chance to explore issues they are concerned about, learn new skills and tools to enhance their self-development, discover their full potential, and become active contributors of Armenia’s evolving society. This will be the fourth year of GLOW in Armenia. The GLOW project has already received feedback about the positive impact on former participants. If this program is not implemented, no other young women in Armenia will have the opportunity to grow and change through the GLOW program keeping the status-quo for rural women. GLOW is a leadership program for young Armenian women, ages 13-16. The program begins with residential summer school, giving 50 participants the opportunity to work in a team based setting to explore topics such as personal development, gender, career planning, health, HIV/AIDS, peer education, human rights and leadership. After the summer school participants hold peer education sessions in their communities, contribute to the GLOW newsletters, and help organize regional reunions and follow up seminars during the year for other young women. The project is a strong cooperation of a local organization Stepanavan Youth Center and U.S. Peace Corps volunteers.

Without donations, this opportunity for girls across Armenia is not possible. Please consider donating through the following (tax-deductible) link:

To read more about the success of the GLOW project, follow these links:

Thanks for your support,

Friday, February 18, 2011

For the Love of Culture

Barev dzez,

This week I have had several exciting cultural exchanges so I thought I'd take the time to share them with the internet world (or the few people that read this blog). It's the cultural experiences here that I'll remember forever and that make the challenging days so much better.

Trndez: Trndez is an old Pagan holiday. Armenians light fires in their yards to welcome the coming of Spring. It also symbolizes luck for newlyweds, and hopes for childbearing. It is custom to jump over the fire with family and friends for good luck. There is also a traditional dish eaten on this day of popcorn and wheat. Trndez which means toward a meeting with the Lord, is also 40 days after the Armenian Christmas and can now be justified to have some Christian meaning as well. I celebrated this holiday with the Sevan Youth Club.

Saint Sarkis Day: This holiday is all about making predictions of marriage, something I notice Armenians doing every day of the year. Single girls eat a salty treat, aghablit, and go to bed thirsty. They hope to dream a vision of their future husband bringing them water in their sleep. My counterpart gave me a aghablit to eat but unfortunately there was no man in my dreams last that a sign? They also make a porridge dish, khashil, in which girls take a bite and then leave it on the roof at night. If it is gone in the morning, perhaps a bird took it to the house of an eligible young man for you.

Valentine's Day: This western holiday is starting to gain popularity in Armenia, although frowned upon by the church for it's root in business, not religion. I celebrated this day by talking about love to my English classes and telling them how we celebrate this day in the U.S. Then we made Valentine's which were pretty hilarious. How come most 7th grade boys cannot say a thing to me in English (after studying since the 3rd grade) but they know sayings like: "I need you, I want to kiss you, etc." I think that's an indicator of some sort..

I also baked cookies for my co-workers, neighbors, and well, mostly myself. In Armenian culture, it is seen as rude to give back a plate empty. So when my neighbors returned my plate, I was given sweet rolls. How sweet!