Posted on 04/17/2011 10:55 am by Maggie
Have you heard of GLOW? Were you a part of it while in Armenia? I’d love to hear your stories!
I am one of the administrators for this year’s GLOW and am excited to be a part of this project! I witness the gender inequalities in Armenia on a daily basis and have come to realize the need for such a program. GLOW 2011 will target 13-16 year old girls in all regions of Armenia. We will educate and skill build in the areas of: health, HIV/AIDS, self-esteem, leadership, teamwork, human rights, gender, career planning, etc.
If you haven’t already and have the means to do so, please think about donating to this great project and help in the effort to empower Armenian girls!
Here’s the link:
Posted on 02/19/2011 10:35 am by Maggie
Saint Sarkis Day- Eating salty bread before sleep in hopes that my future husband will appear in my dreams and bring me water.
Trndez: Jumping over a fire to bring Spring and hopes of love and fertility.
Valentine’s Day: We made Valentine’s at school. Quoted from above, “Love is a mysteried.Nobody can’t live without love. I think that we be for love. If we can love, we can be lovely and a all world can be happy! Don’t worry, be happy!” Such deep thoughts from a 7th grade boy.
Posted on 01/20/2011 01:07 pm by Maggie
First of all, I’d like to apologize because procrastination has gotten the best of me this winter. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I have updated everyone on my journey here. Time really has been flying! I am coming on 8 months in country. It is hard to believe that I only have a year and a half to go. Before, I couldn’t do the whole count down thing. I couldn’t imagine being away from all my familiarities for 27 months, 25 months, or even 20 months. Now, 18 months? Totally manageable.
I haven’t been as productive as I would like to be but I feel settled and comfortable in Sevan and ready to begin the work. I am growing more and more comfortable staying at my site; the excitement of meeting up with other Americans has somewhat died down. And as Peace Corps Armenia has changed somewhat in the past few months (Youth Development will be replacing the CHE and EE sectors), I too have changed my role as a volunteer. I will be teaching English as a main assignment. I look forward to the new challenge and feel I can really do some good work in that role.
As for the rest of life? I have finally recovered from Nor Tari. It was fun, exhausting, and filling! To counteract the calories brought on by Nor Tari, I have started focusing on my fitness a little more, with the help of my site mate. We are taking free boxing lessons at the Culture House (perhaps I shouldn’t say free; I have compromised my “hay aghchik-ness” and my back is aching).
I also found an apartment to move in to after our PDM conference in a couple weeks. I look forward to the freedom of grocery shopping, bare feet, and showers on a more regular basis. However, I will miss living with the best family in Sevan (pictured below).
Posted on 11/01/2010 04:29 pm by Maggie
This past week was Fall Break and I fully took advantage of my time off. Besides for visiting the capital, Yerevan, I have not had the chance (or funds) to travel around the country. Monday-Wednesday I visited friends in Martuni, a small town about an hour south of me. While some worked productively on a Sport Seminar, I caught up on movie watching, cards, and knitting.
Early Saturday morning I set out on an adventure to the South of Armenia…and an adventure it was! We took a four hour winding, taxi ride through orchards and beautiful mountainous terrain. About fifteen of us volunteers spent the night in a cave off of my friend Katie’s small village. Costume contest, scavenger hunt, and attempted fires ensued. The next morning when the bus driver refused to take the trip to the cave to pick us up, we were forced to walk uphill for an hour in a snow flurry! That’s right; Armenia had its first snow on October 31st. What a way to spend Halloween! After being used to the Sevan scenery for a few months now, this trip restored my faith that this is a beautiful place to live for a couple years and has potential for lots of adventures.
Tonight I will spend celebrating my brother’s last night in Armenia for 5-6 months. He leaves for Russia tomorrow morning and my father will soon follow. Then it is back to work for a few weeks. Ideas are flowing and I hope I can accomplish something at my work before winter comes in at full force.
Posted on 10/14/2010 10:21 pm by Maggie
If this is October and I am already in my long john’s, I am just wondering how I will survive winter here in Hayastan. Don’t get me wrong, the snow on the mountains (let me remind you it is October) is beautiful and breathtaking, but I am cold. All this complaining is coming from a Chicagoan too; I thought I knew cold! Ok enough with the complaining, I finally got around to another post because things are looking up and what better time to write a blog post!
My site mate and I started aerobic clubs this week, once a week at each of our schools. Although we had few in attendance, I think it will continue to be a great success. We chose to do the club with middle school girls, as the Healthy Lifestyles class in the Spring targets this age group. Starting clubs finally gives me something meaningful to do here while my language is improving. In class, I feel like there is not much to do but yell at kids in the imperative (Don’t talk, listen, don’t turn around, etc.). I also think I may start doing some domestic violence awareness work in country due to an article I read this week about a woman’s death due to family violence here. This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so the topic has been particularly on my mind.
In other news, I am feeling more and more a part of my host family. This has it’s advantages but I know that makes moving out a much harder thing for them to accept. Next week my host father and brother will leave to go work in Russia and my host mother said she would be lonely if I left soon. I love my host family but there is something nice about living independently. I am cat sitting my site mate’s cats right now and I love going there to cook and relax! I guess this will be just one more obstacle to overcome here.
Minchev muse ankam,
Posted on 09/21/2010 10:47 pm by Maggie
I spent this past weekend in Tsachadzor with my Gorts Enker, Armik for a Counterpart Conference. Within two days, we learned all about lesson planning, cultural differences, and our professional relationship. More importantly, we were able to spend quality time with each other outside of the classroom. I am not sure how much of the conference material will transfer into our work relationship but I have a feeling that the weekend together was helpful either way.
We stayed in a Sport Complex that many of the Armenian professionals train at throughout the year. Since many of us health volunteers have P.E. teachers for counterparts, we decided that a volleyball match might be a good idea on Saturday night. The evening started out as an Armenian vs. American game but was soon changed to international teams as the Armenian men were sorely beating us. Sunday night, many of the Americans went bowling. It was a lot of fun but unfortunately, the counterparts didn’t accompany us. I have a feeling we could have made up for our weak volleyball skills.
The weekend was good for several other reasons as well. As much as I came here to indulge myself in another’s culture, I am finding any bit of home very welcomed. It was great to see other volunteers. To hear their experiences and know that I am not alone, to speak my native language, and to not be questioned about my American ways; I feel these are all necessary every once in awhile while living abroad.
The past couple days have been holidays here… I have been noticing there are a lot of holidays in Armenia. I look forward to head back to school in a day and progress my professional life here (to the extent of my language skills).
Posted on 09/06/2010 05:33 pm by Maggie
Today marks my one month anniversary as a PCV and calling Sevan, Armenia my home. When I told my host sister we have lived together for one month, she gave me an appropriate, “Shnorhavor.” I have had PLENTY of time to relax up until last week. Morning runs, afternoon reading, and evening walks around the shuka became my routine. But now that work has started I am feeling all sorts of new emotions. What do I wear? Am I being culturally appropriate? When can I eat? Did my counterpart invite me over after school or did I misunderstand? I know that everything will fall into place but right now it feels overwhelming. Fortunately, I have had plenty of amazing experiences already that make up for the awkward ones. I know that I have to continue practicing my patience (and Armenian) but, I am so excited to start doing stuff here!
Posted on 08/11/2010 09:23 pm by Maggie
I am all (or almost) settled into my new site, Sevan. PST came and went faster than we imagined; I wonder how fast these next two years will go! The Swearing In Ceremony was exciting. We had two great speakers in our group, Katie and Austin and a wonderful Armenian solo sung by Joel. A large group sang a song or two in Armenian and then the infamous song, “Imagine.” We were sworn in by the US Ambassador to Armenia who took the time to meet most of us after the ceremony. After all the excitement, the A-17′s welcomed us and we all headed to a cafe in Charentsavan to celebrate.
It is hard to believe I can finally call myself a Peace Corps Volunteer. Four years ago I began to seriously consider this decision. Two years ago I made the decision to go through with it. Eight months ago I received my invitation and just over two months ago, I boarded an international flight for the second time in my life (for some of our group it’s the first time!). We have a great group of volunteers and I am excited to work with them. I also have a great site with seemingly plenty of opportunities; I can’t wait to begin!
I hope this blog provided you with some insight into our Pre-Service Training and our first experiences as Americans living in Armenia. Perhaps, it allowed you to reminisce about your own time in Hayastan, I hope so! I enjoyed sharing and let me know if you have any other questions, comments, advice, etc!
Posted on 08/04/2010 10:15 am by Maggie
Today I pack my bags from the small village of Fantan and look ahead to the next two years of my life. We are officially done with Peace Corps training. The summer flew by! Six days of language classes a week, a sports/activity day for the village children, a cross-cultural 4th of July party, a few Armenian style Birthday parties, and two weeks of health practicum teaching later, we are (supposedly) ready to become Peace Corps Volunteers.
Tomorrow, we will be sworn in to the Peace Corps by the US Ambassador to Armenia. Then, we say our goodbyes to host family and friends. It is a strange feeling knowing I will be leaving 6 Americans from my current village behind, some of them have been a true support when things get rough. School starts the first week of September so until then I will be working hard at building relationships in my new town of Sevan and trying to learn all the Armenian words for “Sit down, be quiet, listen, don’t cheat, etc.”
Posted on 07/25/2010 09:43 am by Maggie
The A-18′s are half way through Model School Practicum. I think I can speak on behalf of nearly everyone when I say, this been the most stressful part of Pre-Service Training. Our days look something like this:
2-4pm Model School
6-8pm Lesson Planning
*homework and meals in between
Model school is a great way to observe the Armenian school structure and how students learn (and behave) best. We have already had our fair share of trial and errors this week.
Although we cannot wait for these two weeks to be over, we know that means PST is coming to a close. It will sad to say goodbye to everything that has become comfort and familiarity in our Armenian experience thus far. We have so many questions about the unknown that the next few months will bring. Who will be our new (close by) support system? What are we supposed to do those first few weeks before school begins? What does our organization expect from us? How can we be teachers if we have barely grasped the Armenian language? We are aware that many people have walked in these shoes before and we are confident that everything will work itself out in the end.