I was recently adopted by a very large family in a small village outside of Yerevan. I make the 10th member of the family (if you count Rex our dog). There's Sourik, 62, the head of the house and warmly referred to as "papik" (grandfather); Heriknaz, 59, the brains of the house, known as "tatik" (grandmother); Their son Gevorg, 35, who's annoyed that I speak so poorly; his wife, Donara, 33, she's like a new sister I never had; and their four kids: Souren, 14 (boy), Hermine, 12 (girl), Sargis, 11 (boy), and Samvel...the most talkative, active and generally cheery 10-year-old I've ever met. We spent a lot of time coloring with the pencils Emily (the A12 who lived in my home and worked in my school) gave them before she left. They love to play and talk and show me our animals...
...I live in a small petting zoo. We have a regular farm in our backyard. Tons of chickens (and now 14 new baby chicks) roam around where the two calves are staying with about 20 pigs (three really large ones-I'd say the size of a loveseat and one baby).
Our garden grows everything from palmagranates (the national symbol of Armenia) to pumpkins. We can all of our fruits and veggies so during the winter I will not have to live of off potatoes and bread like in some of the other marzes. We also have corn, tomatoes, apples and apricots so needless to say the food is far better than what I have right now.
Also different is the fact that my new family eats the traditional 'lavash' (a tortilla) instead of the traditional fresh baked bread I've become accustomed to in my current home. Yesterday I had lunch with an 81 year-old-tatik who informed me that when napkins aren't available lavash is the perfect substitute. She demonstrated, 'you simply wipe your fingers, clean your mouth and then take a bite!' This made me laugh quite a bit. I like to tell myself that lavash is more healthy than white bread but I think it's just me wanting to believe that it's a good idea to make everything on my plate into a mini burrito.
I visited the school where I'll be teaching and it seems like a really great place. My counterpart is so kind and the teachers are all active in many different projects. I found an NGO just outside of my village in a nearby town that I'm going to try to network with for some additional projects in the future. I think I volunteered to help the English teacher and the Project Harmony director on a civic education project in the fall.
The school director is very kind and actually has traveled to Vermont. She's quite influential as her husband is the mayor of my village. Her daughter is 22 and is a journalist in Yerevan. One night we were watching the news and she pointed to the screen and said 'my girl'. At least I know how to contact the media!
The site itself is a wonderful tourist attraction and I invite you to visit. Large storks perch on top of our telephone poles and many volunteers come to bird watch somewhere close to my village. You can see Mt. Ararat from my bedroom window. It's nice and warm right now too--but don't worry we have water (sometimes).
Introducing Emelyn Ruth Bornstein
2 years ago