Tuesday, December 04, 2007

International Volunteer Day

Shnor havor camavori orna. Congratulations on Volunteer day!
It's an exciting day to be a non-paid health teacher as today marks the one day when I can talk about what it means to volunteer and how volunteering has impacted my life.

On Monday an environmental education PC volunteer and I were invited to the H1 (television channel) studios in Yerevan. A popular talk show host was interested in our lives in Armenia and wanted to celebrate international volunteer day with some PCVs on his show '5th wheel'.

I knew it wouldn't be live so I wasn't worried about the interview until the host informed us that there would be no stopping, no question clarification opportunities, no take twos, and the entire program would be taped in Armenian.

With the lights glaring down on Rud and I we fielded questions about volunteerism in our lives, what our experience has been like in Armenia and why we're not married to Armenians yet.

When it was said and done I took a deep breath and began to critique the entire experience. Why had I confused the verbs for understand and relax? Why couldn't I recall the word for accommodate? Why do I insist on using flamboyant hand gestures while I speak? For the first time in a long time I remembered the fear of public speaking in Armenian. The last time I got up in front of a large group I mispronounced the word for Armenia itself. What could I possibly have said on camera?

We left the studio and the Director's executive assistant told us it was fantastic, that Rud spoke the region slang perfectly and people in the taping room thought I was cute. If I have no language skills going for me at least maybe people can be distracted by the over sized nervous smile I used throughout the interview.

The show airs today in the afternoon. The village is all a buzz and the teachers are already asking what time we're meeting at my house. Happy Volunteer Day...