Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

I've tried for the past 1 hour and 37 minutes to get a picture on this darn blog. Please be patient Alex, I'll get it done when I go into Yerevan at some point. It's just difficult to understand and so slow that I don't know where they are! I know that you'll need pictures to remember what I look like and to illustrate the beautiful country so I'll keep trying. I promise.

I struggle with missing people and things from America--I often long for peanut butter and whole wheat bread (and it's only been a few weeks!) but overall I'm working through the culture shock.We were assigned our first practicum for training last week in which we are expected to enact one of the PACA tools to research our community's needs. I think my group is going to work with girls maybe the same age as the KMS lax team. I go back and forth about this work all the time for a few reasons. First, I want to work with older adults and NGOs when I am assigned my site, I don't want to lead my trainers to believe that I am willing to teach a health course in a school as my primary site placement. Then, however, I think about how much the girls respect us and look up to us, how understanding they are with our poor language skills and how much they are willing to learn. I've gone back and forth thinking about how we can reach people but after working in our group I think this is the best target audience. The other night I had a dream that I was going to hold a focus group and informally call it "mother knows best." In the dream it worked really well! The women came in and we held a daycare for their children while we asked them to assess their hopes/aspirations for their community. Another thought I had was of working with the Tatiks (grandmas as they're called) in our community. They've lived here their whole lives, they love Armenia and they have plenty of time...the problem I found with this is that really they speak a different dilect and have a difficult time both hearing us and understanding us even when we speak our clearest. I'm thinking that this would also be difficult because many are very set in their mindset whereas the younger generations are willing and anxious to hear about change.Last night two of the American boys in our village (David and Tony) brought out a frisbee and were playing "Kapik in the middle" with a group of about 12 Armenian boys. Heather, Stephanie and I joined in and we found out that these kids had never played with a frisbee before. They were entranced by us as Americans and excited to be near us. This kind of admiration/curiosity is what will ease us into our permanent sites I think.

In general, I believe Armenians are very warm and welcoming. This is a country that has been through so much in such a short period of time and I think that anyone in the states can admire their resilience. Today we were riding the bus here with our LCF Seda (Language and Cultural facilitator). Seda was obviously speaking with us in English and three people throughout the ride made comments to her. The first said that she was happy the "Americatsis" were here and she was thankful to see us trying her language. The second leaned over and said to tell us that whether or not we were Armenian or American we are all people. We all have one heart. It was very endearing. Sometimes Heather and I will go for walks and little 80 year old Tatiks will stop us on the road grab our hands and cheeks and ask us to come in for coffee. They know we can't carry on a conversation, they know we don't know anything but they love us for being here and for smiling at them. Speaking of introductions, I must comment on the standard greeting in Armenia. It is as follows (in very exact order):

1. Hello/Hello
2. What is your name/My name is Sarah
3. What is your last name
4. Are you Armenian/American
5. Are you married (it is very very strange for people to be single here. I'm ok because I say that I am 21 but give it one year...maybe even 6 months and they will definately start to question).
6. Are you Christian.

I would just like to leave you with a little something that we learned the very first day here. The A 13s informed us that Armenia is the best country for pirate jokes. I will give you one small example:"Where is a pirate's favorite place to volunteer?""Arrrrrmenia!"Love,Sarah


Anonymous said...

Good to talk to you today. I love the pirate jokes..ARRRRGH. I can just picture the Tatiks taking you in for coffee. Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I am so sorry I missed you before you left. Thank you so much for the card and please let me know what your address is now so I can send you something. I hope everything to going good for you and be safe. Your in my prayers and I missed you so much already. Luv you hun!!! Sarah E.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you'll do well over there. You seem to blend in any environment. We love you and miss you. UT & AL ... Rowdy too.

Enjoy the coffee and bring some home if it's any good. We've all tried the Costa Rican you hooked us on! ;o)

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah!

You need to update us and start teaching us a little Armenian as well! I bet the kids really do appreciate your smile!

What do they eat on their bread there if not P-nut butter????

Take care.

Love you.

Aunt T & Uncle Paul

Anonymous said...

Sarah, When you get the chance, tell us about the weather and your physical environment, worn-out buildings or new, clean, bright? Parks? Cars or people on bikes? How are you getting aroung, mostly foot and bus it sounds like. God's peace, Ann Wilson

Anonymous said...

Pirate jokes?! That's awesome! I'll have to find out when "National Talk Like A Pirate Day" is so you can impress the Armenians. I love you! H*

Anonymous said...

Hola Sarah,
there are plenty of interesting things to explore in armenia such as the duduk music (folk & light pop music).
I like the pirate jokes ... take care...Mouhcine

Anonymous said...

girl, you got some funky pants.