Saturday, March 31, 2007

Growing up

I had a heart to heart with Alla the other day about what her childhood was like in Armenia in the 1990s. Whereas I was studying in a warm, inviting elementary school, she would come to an unheated classroom for 10 minute lessons. It was just enough time for teachers to answer questions before assigning excessive homework to children. Basically homeschooling, all teachers could do was hope that students were assisted by parents in completing lessons at home. During the war, there weren't many people who didn't experience devastating loss of family members and loved ones. Whereas I would spend afternoons dancing and singing to Ace of Base in my backyard, she was not allowed to turn on the television or laugh out of respect for those grieving. I could walk into any room I wanted at any time and flip on a light to read, but Alla was encouraged to sit quietly and study by candlelight (only one per day because they never knew when they would run out of candles). Power was supplied to the village for one hour per day. My biggest fear was if I would get caught making homemade play dough in the kitchen, she grew up afraid that the Turks were going to come and take over the small village.

The most amazing thing about our lives, however, is that we turned out the same. I was showered with blessings, she had next to nothing. I was reprimanded for misbehaving, she was reprimanded for laughing and playing. We came from such different backgrounds, but we both want the same things for this village, this country and the world. I'm so thankful for Alla, her motivation, her unwavering hope and her desire to improve the life of others.


Anonymous said...

We do take a lot for granted here. You have been blessed and it's wonderful that you are willing to share your good fortune with others. Just keep smiling....your smile is contagious:)
Love, Mom

Ann W said...

Keep in mind you are plopping pebbles in a pond, and the ripples will go on fo a long time, longer than you will be there. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I always try to explain to my kids how lucky they are and blessed , it is my hope that someday like you they will really understand that. Take good care of you sondra

Martha said...

Sarah: am Senior PCV (a grandmother) invitee to Armenia as grade school English teacher. considering saying yes. wondering about diet,cooking,hygiene (u hv some good info); acceptance as grandmother?; internet access--cellphone? school sounds challenging, overwhelming even. maybe i should have said: high school instead? congrats on your blog. love it!

Sarah said...

Dear Martha, I am excited to welcome you to the 15th group of Armenian volunteers. I'll admit that if you're considering PC Armenia seems to be a great place for 'grandmothers' because we do have some of the creature comforts that you can't find in other programs. I own a cell phone (I think all volunteers here have one by now) and I can usually access the internet on a weekly basis. The school is a challenging place, but they say that the greatest challenges usually reap the greatest rewards.

Best wishes with your decision. I know what you're going through but I hope to meet you in June!

Anonymous said...

Alla is an impressive person! Please share with her our impressions and respect.