Monday, July 24, 2006

My new site

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).

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sarah,
You make me laugh. I can't wait to go home and use my tortillas as napkins. Why don't we think of practical things like that? Pigs huh? Sounds like they'll be having a barbeque in the future. I've also read where that area is know for it's watermelons and you must feel like you are in heaven with fresh pomegranates. This sounds like a good match for you and I hope you can share more stories with us. Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

Sarbear,
Wow, fresh pomegranates! That is definitely the place for you! When you get home you'll have to share your farming skills with Aunt Lisa and I so we can raise animals and crops too. Now all you need is to grow some zucchini and you'll be all set! Enjoy your blogs. Love, Uncle Tom & Aunt Lisa (Rowdy too)

Anonymous said...

Sarah,

Just wanted to let you know that with an impending move to North Carolina and a wedding on my plate right now, I'm not in as good of contact with people as I should be, but I've been trying to keep up with your adventures, and I'm glad everything's going so well. Things are good here -- just busy. But I'm happy that you seem so happy. Can't wait to hear more.

--CN

Ann W said...

G'day Sarah!
I appreciate the details in this blog, as I'm with your Mom in wanting to know about your every day life. I'm glad it's warm, and hope that winter comes late this year. Pomegranates. When I lived in Spain our senora ate them occasionally, but they must have been expensive because she never shared. I know I've had the juice and it is really good for you, like blueberries. Is the lavash made with white flour, or whole wheat/multigrain flour? Or maybe another grain's flour altogether? And what are you doing for exercise? Is just 'living' enough to keep you fit and full of energy, or are you walking/running? You could probably develop some killer quads with a mountain bike! God's peace. Ann

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah!

Uncle Paul is jealous of the pomegranate deal! He introduced me to them when we married. Lot's of work but very fun to eat!

I, like your Mom, love the idea of the tortilla napkins. I'm done with paper forever......

Keep the faith kid.

Love, AR

Anonymous said...

Sarah,
I have been keeping up on your adventures and it sounds like you are having many! How exciting to be learning all about a new culture while having some of your "comforts" around. I will try to keep in touch better while you are in Armenia than I did when you were at Cap! I am praying for you! :)

Sarah Moyer

Joseph DeLoss said...

Zaengerstein. Pomegranates.

Anonymous said...

Hello Sarah,

I was reading your journal and awww, this is really an adventure. I think that maybe you should make a book about your experience in Armenia. Not many people know about their culture. I can see that many people love you so much. There is no doubt, you are really a special girl. Keep doing what you are doing, dear friend!