Tuesday, December 23, 2008
so the best part was when we went to the second farm and met a woman and a man. the woman insisted on feeding us, but of course we didn't want any food. well, she had a mind of her own. she ran into the kitchen, got a plate of nuts, and ran with the plate out to us. When the two other employees declined she forced the nuts into both my pockets. and the employees laughed and let it happen. thanks guys....
however, they are great nuts: hazelnuts and walnuts.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
i also have a rather huge room with a heater in it...which is nice because it is starting to get freezing here. yesterday we had our first day of snow. my grandma here is very nice and not pushy, which is a complete luxury. some nenes (grandmas) are infamous for pushing their ideas on you...it is understandable why this might be the case. in general, elders are respected in azerbaijan. so when a woman gets old, it is her moment to voice all her opinions...she is in a very culturally respected position. also, my little brother (11) is just smart and well behaved. i'm lucky. and my bed is more comfortable than any bed i've had in NYC or Colorado.
it is SHOCKING.
but i feel like when i talk about this i'm bragging. i don't mean to at all. it is just so suprising that my quality of life is so high. and i know that my particular situation is not representative of everyone else in az peace corps. i just, i don't know, lucked out? well...at least so far.
i also get to go running whenever i want. these runs are followed by hot showers. can you believe it? i can't. running is funny here...the main obstacle is cows and their poop. i have to make sure to run around cows at a respectable enough distance so as not to scare them and make their herders angry with me. and, i run when the sunrises so the gigantic poop piles are a disaster waiting to happen. my home is at the outskirts of the city, so i can run on dirt roads and go generally unnoticed. however, i'm also often noticed. i run when one of the first school sessions is about to begin so i get stared at by dozens of kids on their way to school. it is uncomfortable, but i keep telling myself that in general this is a positive situation. afterall, if kids get used to seeing a woman exercising in the morning, then this could not be a bad thing, right? and so i carry on...
yesterday i watched clip after clip of bush getting shoes thrown at his head. HILARIOUS...(just a side note).
what else can i say right now? last weekend my site mate (kim) and myself went hiking up in the foothills surrounding ming. it was really enjoyable, but we got stopped by cops who found us suspicious. of course, kim and i weren't doing anything but walking, so the cops let us be...but in general, getting stopped by cops is not desirable. in the end it was funny, but we realize now how easy it is to appear super abnormal. the idea of two people wanting...voluntarily hiking up a dirt road has the appearance of something totally strange. ha
for those who are curious, the following is a list of my sitemates:
nate ----these two are married and are approximately my age. they got married while in pc service. they are a great resource for us newbies are generally very open and helpful
(those two are older volunteers)
so, u can see i'm surrounded by other volunteers. i'm pretty greatful for this. we get together once a week and eat. last weekend was mariko's birthday/temporary goodbye/christmas party and nate baked apple pie. hell yeah. the temporary goodbye aspect of this party is due to mariko's temporary leave. mariko is an az 4 who extended her service in azerbaijan. if a pcv extends service, they must go home for one month between services. that is precisely what she is doing.
i hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying your holidays. i will be traveling a lot (within azerbaijan) at the end of the month. keep in touch
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
does anyone still read this thing?
anyhow...many things have happened. events have occured. time has passed. and everything is, at the sametime, relatively the same. so is life
this Friday (today is Wednesday) I have a language exam. I generally do not like these things, but hell I knew it was coming. Wish me luck. If I pass, then I will have to undergo fewer tests in the future.
Then, on Dec 10 we volunteers get sworn in..in otherwords, i might actually become a peace corps volunteer!!! imagine that :) Then, if all goes according to plan (inshallah, albette), I will be shipped (bused) off to Ming on Dec.11. AND THEN, after that (Dec 12) I begin my life as a microfinancial volunteer. phew.
what does this all mean? I don't know, a lot of things. Firstly, I'm excited to go to Ming. Sumgayit is one of the most polluted places in the world:
and i'm generally a fan of nature, so I'm happy to go to clean Ming. Seriously, Ming is a particularly clean city. I'm also looking forward to Ming's abundant and available resources...which includes an art gallery.
Also, I will have to adjust myself to a new host family. Generally, this family seems to be really friendly, nice, and generally intellectually interested/involved. Also, i ain't gonna lie, their house is beautiful and large. however, in general, i like to live alone....so, this is still an adjustment. I've never quite figured out how to explain the whole water boiling situation to my host family now...so i'll have to brainstorm for the future one.
Oh man, and moving my crap is going to be...NOT FUN. wow. i've got a lot of stuff. why? Because the Peace Corps has given us a lot of extra necessities...and i'm not arguing against it. however, the actual moving of belongings is not going to be easy.
what else what else....
yesterday i made dinner for myself for the first time since living in azerbaijan. shocking, huh? AND, last week I had my first ever conversation with my host brother. he asked if my mother could send him cigs from the US...what say you mom? (Don't worry mom, I've learned to word for unhealthy and happily explained that you cannot send American cigs to AZ because, indeed, cigs are unhealthy). However, don't get the wrong idea. My host brother is an alright guy...he just likes to smoke...like so many others.
oh, and i had a successfull in country thanksgiving. of course it was not the same as being with my family in the US, but there was a feast and I cannot complain. There is an azerbaijani dish i'm in love with called Dovga and dovga was served. Thank YOU very much :)
i love you all and please write
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
later that day i found out my site in azerbaijan and my job!!!! i couldn't be happier. this is my organization:
Finance for Development
FinDev LLC is a local non-banking, non-for-profit credit organization that offers loans to households and communities, as well as community members who do not have any access to other credit and finance sources. The organization was established in 2002. Organization Purpose is to facilitate the development of sustainable entrepreneurship and income generation activities of sectors which have no access to other traditional financial and credit sources. Finance for Development supports the IDP and local communities as well as rural and urban people to build their own secure income sources through lending activities; to develop their livelihoods; to start small businesses by providing of credit facilities. The source of finance is interest rates from credits.
yay! i have a lot of things to say about this. but first, this additional information as well: i will be workng with 8 people in an office, 5 male, 3 female, and 3 of them are English speakers (holy sweeeeeetness!).
ok, as most of you know i've been trying to work in microfinance for a few years now. however, microfinance is a complex field. generally, at it's beginnings, MFIs lend to small groups (usually women) and start up businesses. however, as the MFI matures, it begins to resemble a traditional bank. well, this it doesn't have to completely resemble a traditional bank, but it can. There are different models. some are forprofit, some are nonprofit. consequently, there are different missions attached to the MFI. For the most part, because i'll be working for a nonprofit, I get the feeling that this organization's mission will be more closely alligned to my interests. In other words, I did not come to Azerbaijan to work for a traditional bank. That was not my goal. And, in fact, many other CEDs will be working for banks. So, to me it seems I've really lucked out. I'm going to help vulnerable populations who don't have other available lines of credit. not that i'm a fan of credit....but i am a fan of getting money to people who don't have any but have constructive ideas about what they want to do with it.
ok, and i'm going to Mingechevir. this is a great thing. it is maybe the 4th or 5th largest city in the country. it is more liberal than other places and is well known for being both cleaner and more reliable with electricity than most other places in azerbaijan. there is a large resevior there and usuable beaches. the population is approx 97,000. Ming has a longer history of foreigners visiting, so my presence will not seem quite as strange. ALSO, i'm going with two of my closest friends from PCT: Andrea and Kim (aka superdonuzlar and sen kimsen). so, phew....i'm rambling, but thats bc there are a lot of positive things to say. Ming's location is also very close to some other more beautiful places in azerbaijan (sheki) and to the second largest city (ganja...1.5 hours away).
Sunday, November 2, 2008
hmmmm. so on tuesday all you other americans vote!!!!!!!! i better get immediate messages about who wins the election. i have no idea how i'll find out. i've actually already voted.
wednesday i find out my permanent site in az. keep yer fingers crossed.
and i believe i have approx 40 days/40 nites left of training. things are getting biblical. i'm stuck in the desert of language traing and freedom snatching.....i'm thirsty! freedom! in other words: i'm getting a bit sick of school and being treated like a child (PST rules) 6 days a week. the good news is that this will end when training ends. the bad news is that i've got a while to go. but, i can do it. (i think i can i think i can i think i can i think i can i think i can).
Monday, October 27, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
rut roh, i have to cut this short. consider this part one.
but yes, it was sweet.