Well, I have been at site for a few weeks now, and it has been awesome. My new site is in the Midwest of the country, and it is nestled between snow capped mountains that are GORGEOUS. Today I was playing soccer at the stadium here (the only grass field at site, but that’s okay, it’s a grass field, and I am playing outdoor soccer in January, life’s good) and I looked at the mountains to my left and right and just felt completely blessed. In Merrimack, you don’t find a lot of snow-capped peaks, and it is just one of many perks to being in this town.
My counterpart is very nice. I am working at the Ministry of Youth and Sport for the government, and the man I work with is the head of the department for the town. My co-workers are awesome too. None of them speak English, but we get along. My Azeri is getting better and better each day, so it works. They get a lot of humor out of me though. I have secured respect from all of them though because I go play soccer with the 14-16 year-olds out on the field outside our work, and they watch. I kick the boy’s butts, so I have justified my placement with a youth and sport organization. The boys think I am hilarious, because I have made each and every one of them look foo.ish at least once, so they all can rag on each other for being tooled by a girl. Then they get all prideful if they beat me. I have a really good time with them.
After the New Year I should be starting English Conversation clubs, computer clubs and hopefully some sort of adult English club. Kate (my site mate) and I are holding a field day to meet some kids, so we can show how much fun we are to have kids coming to our clubs!
About my town: there is no internet that we have found yet, one library, one soccer field, a bazaar where you buy food, a few convenience stores, one tiny apartment bloc that we have seen so far, a handful of government buildings (fire, police, tiny hospital) and lots of one-story houses. The main feature is the one big paved road going through the city where a few other paved roads and all the dirt roads weave off of. It is like a main street, because that is where everything is based out of. All schools are on that road. There are 4 schools, but the schools here are very small, so four isn’t that much. One school is an orphanage and another does all it’s teaching in Russian, the other two are 1st-11th grade schools (the kids go until 11th grade here). I really like the town and feel like Kate and I can do a lot of good work here. We are the first Americans in this town since 2006 and they haven’t had Youth Development workers.
I will leave you with a funny story about life here that my family asked me to post to you all:
I was taken to the memorial service of Heydar Aliyev, the former president of Azerbaijan who died 6 years ago. His face is all over the place and quotes are still up on billboards. It’s surprising in this culture to find this guy’s image plastered all over everything when Idol worship is a HUGE offense in the Muslim religion. Anywho, it was my first experience with the Azerbaijani line. In this country, people don’t do lines. At the market, ATM, the toilet for god’s sakes, it’s whoever can weasel their way to the front. At the memorial service, people were supposed to put their flowers on the Heydar statue and leave. Well, it was supposed to be at 10, but for some insane reason, the police didn’t allow that to happen until 11, when people were standing out in the cold for an hour, unhappily. As much as they loved the former prez, they didn’t love him enough to be happy about waiting around an hour to put a flower on his statue. Anyways, the police then told the crowd to go ONE BY ONE up to the statue to place their flower down. Well this all could have been done AN HOUR AGO without the police’s help. But they decided to create a bottleneck by taking this huge crowd and cramming them into a line, something the public has NO FAMILIARITY with. All the local xanims (that’s old ladies in azeri speak) started pushing to the front. Now, these ladies could be linemen for Brady with the way they can push people around. I started to get squished, my host sister looked at me, told me not to worry. I was worried. I don’t do well in these situations. I don’t like to push strangers unless they have cleats strapped to their feet. I just dealt with it though.
It got worse. While I was being squished, a weird guy came up to me, handed me a piece of paper with his number on it and left, without saying a word. A little background on this: A lot of PCV’s are mistaken for prostitutes, but this was my first time. I handed the number to my host sister, pretending that I didn’t know that this guy thought I was a hooker, and she looked at me, shook her head with a wry smile, and threw the paper on the ground. At this point, I did not know what I was most offended by, the local xanim with her knee up my ass, being mistaken for a whore, or my host sister, the LITTERER! Anyways, I got my flower to the statue without any more incidents. The kicker is that I don’t even really like Heydar all that much.
Okay love you all! Miss you and hope you had a great holiday!