Friday, December 18, 2009

Santa Clause Came to Town

So I'm sitting at my desk at the Youth Center, looking particularly scraggy today, thinking I had a quiet day in to do whatever it is that I do. (Keeping in mind I haven't showered in 5 days) I get a phone call from my counter-part. He was at a lunch benefit for the childrens hospital. He informed me that I needed to walk over immedietly, since,of course, the celebration had already begun. This was the first I had heard about it. My house is 3 kilometers away, and time was ticking, so I went as is. Let me describe my dress; gray dickies, gray thermal, maroon hoodie, black northface jacket, black stocking cap, and big boots. I looked like a homeless person.
On my way to the benefit I was annoyed, embarassed, and mad all at the same time. Nazim, a friend and co-worker went with me. He would later abandon me at the benefit. I knew the luncheon was going to be a big deal, and it was. The place was packed, suits and ties everywhere. I'll give you one good guess as to what happened when I walked in, everyone noticed the American, and the word started spreading. As we paraded ourselves to our seats, my head slumped lower and lower and I felt more and more self counscience.
We finally made it to our seats, sat down, and watched the performance with everyone else. The kids were great. There were multiple dances, songs performed, karate demonstration, Santa Clause, the works. The longer I sat there, I realized, no one really cared about me or what I looked like, and if they did, given the circumstances, I didn't care. It was about the kids, and I was happy to be there. And as for Nezim leaving, it was no big deal. I talked to the suits at the table I was at. I think they were important people. Everyone kept coming over to make sure their drinks were poured and plates full. We talked. They laughed at my Azeri, then told me it was good. It surprises people to see homeless looking Americans speak their language. It turned out to be a really good experience.
I'mtrying to add a few photos from the event, doesn't seem to be working. My favorite part was when the balloons dropped from the ceiling. They hadn't hit the ground before the kids started popping them. In a matter of a minute the 100 or so balloons had been popped. It was hilarious, and I was laughing out loud. Everyone was happy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Settling In


So it has only been a few days since arriving to our new site, but we seem to be begining to settle in. Another transition has put a little more stress on us, but we are doing the only thing we know what to do, and are try to go with the flow. I think the language is coming. I can hold someones attention for about twenty minutes, then I run out of material. Getting used to hearing a language other than your own all day every day is exhausting. Somedays I wake up and feel like I can contribute to conversation, and "wow" people with my language. Other days it's hard to remember how to tell some one that "I'm Ok". It's an entirely new experience for us. Alicia and I help each other along. I know more vocab, she remembers grammar, and when we put it all toghether we sound like a mildly intelligent four year old.
My NGO is really nice. It is more than I expected. I will post some pics later, but it has a billard table room, several conference rooms, all the works, plus a cafe in the building. I also have a desk with a computer. Weird 'eh?
So far, the best part about this move has been our host family. I will post pictures later, but they are really fun. "Papa" is 56 and "Mama" is 45. He is russian and german, she is azeri. They have two sons, one (23) of which is living in germany with his wife and son. The other (26) lives at home and is super nice. He has taken me along when he goes places/visits people. The food has been good, and Mama makes her own bread. It's really good. My attitude increased exponentially when I realized the food was good, there was a lot of it, and it happens three times a day. Last sunday I worked outside with Papa. What's really crazy about it is that he reminds us of an Umbarger. The way he'll stand there and look at what he's working on was like Dwayne or Irvin all over. Alicia and I both like the reminder.
He bought a bicycle and we fixed it up together. He had one already and I asked him why he bought another. He told me "So we can ride to the river together and go fishing." It was probably the first time I felt like someone did something big for me because they wanted to.
We miss home, family, and friends. There is no other way around that. The experience as a whole has been something different that what we expected. Someways worse, someways.... different. One thing is for sure, it's super interesting.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Volunteers oficially!

Gotta make this short, we've got to get a bus home! We're officially PC volunteers now; we were sworn in this afternoon. Here are a few pictures from the ceremony. We leave for site tomorrow morning. Pray for an easy transition!