Monday, July 30, 2007

Summer camp review

The students who studied Civic Leadership from me at the IOC camp took a class I gave on the Youth Engaging in Service (YES) program. I taught the lessons and the camp director asked me to work with an Armenian named Ani to coordinate the program this fall. I was honored. YES provides students the opportunity to write small project proposals similar in structure to the large scale SPA grant I wrote this spring. The kids plan a project in their community and write the grant. The deadline is September 1st (the same date as our playground opening...hopefully) and then I’ll go up to Vanadzor and sit down with Ani to judge and award grant money anywhere from $10-100 to each approved applicant. I’m really excited about this project because I can’t wait to see what the IOC campers learned while in Vanadzor and I’m happy to be able to fund their projects. The reality is that if these kids want meaningful experience before entering the job market they need to practice project management skills. This grant gives them that opportunity. The money will be awarded and final project reports are due by December 30th. It will be a great way to end the year to hear about the success of young Armenian organizers.

Green Camp in the village was successful. The kids had a great time learning about plants, water, animals, the ecosystem and their personal responsibility to the environment by playing interactive games and journaling at the end of each day. Most kids whined that five days was not long enough while I danced for joy when the closing ceremony came on Friday evening. It was great for the community but it wore me out. Fortunately, the fun doesn’t end with the last round of boom-chicka-boom (the camp song). We invited 10th form students to speak to the campers about water and nature preservation and in September we hope to start an afterschool club of Green Camp graduates who will take the knowledge they gained and become mentors to the children in the kindergarten.

I think I was successful in keeping everything in order and making sure the other PCVs had a nice time with my host family. It was a 24 hour job balancing 60 people at camp all day and coming home to 19 in a five bedroom house. Somehow it worked (as most things do in Armenia). Grandma got a little grumpy by Saturday but I think that was just because the final-day BBQ/dance party kept her up too late.

The best part of our Green Camp was that it made me realize how much I’ve grown to appreciate my community. There are some very active youth (and adults) here and they take excellent care of me.

On Friday we had personal responsibility to the environment day and we did a school area clean up. Alla had the idea to organize the kids so that part of the time would be spent cleaning the area where we hope to build the playground this month. I thought I was going to get to take a day off on Sunday but Saturday night Alla came over to inform me that the YCAP group decided to begin cleaning and taking out the old fence in the playground area starting at 8 p.m. (that’s when it begins to cool off enough to emerge from the house).

We cleaned until 10:30 and then went home for some fried eggplant and salty cheese wraps. Oh how my schedule (and tastes) have changed. Fun summer nights!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

International Outreach Camp in Pictures

Camp Gugark from the stairwell window. The cafeteria is on the left and another children's camp was staying in the dorm across the square. Many a disco took place in the middle.
PCV bonding time before camp around Dominic and his guitar. Who knew that could Alex could sound so much like the Foundations (our favorite is Build me up buttercup)? Throughout camp we turned to each other for a bit of 'Team nothing' time in order to relax.

The big welcome of Armenian participants.

We were introducing participants to our home states in America. I'm introducing Ohio but look four people to my right. Who know the cardinal, carnation and buckeye could be so hilarious? What a public speaker...

The intense judging panel. We're serious about those team challenges.

I taught an optional nutrition class. The students had never seen the food pyramid before which led to an interesting discussion about the differences between whole wheat and white bread, red vs. white meat and why you can never get enough veggies. I'm wearing my shirt backwards on purpose.

On the 16th we had a camp-wide culture fair and the students in 'sharing cultures' classes made this quilt of symbols of Armenia. My favorite is the big pomegranate at the top.

Saying goodbye to tomorrow's leaders.

Onward and upward. Ani (far left) is headed to TN in a few weeks. Take good care of her America!