Tuesday, February 20, 2007

We're Smart Over Here

First I would like to apologize to all my faithful readers on the lack of an update last week. For those who read Ashley’s blog, you probably read the most important and funny thing that I could have thrown into my blog, which of course, is the story of him falling in the ditch. It was gross and completely hilarious. I haven’t laughed that hard at any one person in such a long time. In all fairness, I too, have fallen into one of those ditches, but luckily mine wasn’t filled with anything and I didn’t have to wash my clothes immediately after. It also happened in another town, where I was unfamiliar with the surroundings. Good excuses, I know. In case you were wondering about the other volunteer in Lankaran, Tim, he has also fallen into a ditch. I, for one, am glad that I fell into one so early and got it out of the way so I can enjoy the rest of my time here without that dark cloud hovering over me making me fear the day I fall into the gutter/ditch. Plus it’s funny. So, with that all out of the way, I’ll move on.

Last week was rather busy. My organization found a grant opportunity that they wanted to apply for so I was busy helping develop project ideas and writing the application. The program is based around HIV/AIDS education focusing on the youth. It had to be written in Azeri, so my main focus was helping with ideas and offering any advice that I could as well as preparing the budget. This was much easier than my first experience from a few months ago. On Sunday (last Sunday, the 11th) I helped two kids with a Youth Leadership project of theirs. They had traveled to America a month or so ago to learn about our constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, and part of their program involved talking to a group of kids their age about what they learned and the Azeri Constitution. They talked about their freedoms and how they can become active in their country’s politics. It was very interesting to hear what they had to say. They asked me to say a few things about the U.S. Constitution and that was about it. That basically sums up last week.

On Friday I headed to Baku to meet up with pretty much all of the other Volunteers. Every year they have Volunteer Prom, which is basically the entire group going out in Baku and having a good time with all their friends. We don’t get together in very large groups very often just because it is hard for everyone to be able to go to one place at the same time due to obligations at our sites, so it was great to see everyone. A good time was had by all.

This week, the housing search really heats up. Ashley and I informed our host families last week about our intentions of moving out next month and we both really thought the reactions would involve lots of questions and disappointment and just general awkwardness. Once I was able to convey what I meant, my host mom asked me three questions. The first was am I going to live alone, answered by me saying yes. The second was, “Why are you going to live alone?” with my answer being “Because that’s what I did in America, and I’m used to it.” And the third was, “Who will cook for you?” My reply was, and get ready to laugh now, “I can cook.” My host mom’s response was, “How wonderful.” And that was the end of that. It was quick, painless and surprising. I really expected more of a reaction from my host brother, but oh well. We hope to get our housing options approved relatively soon and then wait until moving day. The picture I have included is the group of kids that came to my office for the Youth Leadership day last Sunday. The park by my house that I keep talking about is really coming along and so I will take some pictures this week and maybe some more of the mountains. As my tutor, Aygun, says, “Keep it real, yo!”


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