Well I made it through swearing in, at one point the group was asked to sing a Kyrgyz national song and I was quite convinced that not only would we be rejected from the Peace Corps but that we would be deported immediatly! It was pretty bad, we butchered the beautiful Kergyz Jeri song! Despite that though, after the swearing in ceremony all the new volunteers were invited to the ambassadors house to celebrate! It was pretty exciting, we were served microwave pizza, chips, salsa and diet pepsi. After only two months in this country I have an appreciation for junk food that I never knew I had.
Eventually we headed back to the hotel and had long night of goodbyes with other volunteers, it was really hard saying goodbye since I had become so close with so many volunteers over these last 11 weeks. I wish them nothing but exciting adventures and a successfull two years of service. The next morning I left the hotel very early to get to the airport. Checking baggage was a mess, I just had so much stuff! The Peace Corps had giving everyone a water distiller, a giant electric heater and a medical kit that I needed to carry to Jalal abad along with literally over 100 lbs of my own crap!!! I'm still not at the point where I can look back and laugh at the situation, maybe in two years I'll see the humour in it. By the time it was all said and done I was 43 kg over the weight limit. Thank God the Peace Corps takes care of overweight baggage!
But here I am at my permantent site! The weather has started to cool down quite a bit already, I comforted by the fact that the Kyrgyz seem to be even more terrified of the cold than I am, I figure if they can survive the winter,so can I!!! One of the first things that I did when I arrived was go to the bazaar, I was hoping to buy a jacket for the winter but I didn't get around to it. The bazaars can just be so over whelming! Every time I go into one I have to tune out 95% of my senses. A typical walk throught the market consists of sellers shouting prices, people asking what you want to buy, shoppers bumping past you, carts flying between and through stands where there are piles and piles of fruits, vegetables, soap, electronics, clothes, doo dads and trinkets! Really if you want something, you can find it at the bazaar- it'll take a long time but you can find it! At one point during the three hours I was there, I was looking for lemons so I could make baba ganaush. For the life of me I couldn't find it but I kept asking merchants and each one continued to maze me through the intricit bazaar untill I found them in the very heart it!!! I was exhausted by the end of it all and just went back to my host family's house and fell asleep! When I woke up my host family was in the midsts of repainting their whole house. Their only son is getting married in less than a month so the whole house must be looking its best for the wedding, I'm really excited to see a Kyrgyz wedding. The wedding is constantly a topic of conversation, more than once my host mother has run her finger across her throat as she explains that a sheep, cow and horse will be sacrificed at the wedding. Its going to be a big party!
As for work, yesterday was my first day at the office. I first went to my host mother's office, she is a director for an NGO that works with local orphans and has a small office not far from my NGO. While I was there she introduced me to a dozen people, many who seemed to be government officials which I am glad to know for future references during my two years here. I was so flattered, as she introduced me and explained what I was doing in Kyrgyzstan she would call me her new daughter!
After we had lunch I went to my NGO's office and talked about what I will be doing for the next couple of weeks. My first project is to creat an English club where young adults can practice their english by exploring issues that the organization is involved in such as human and women rights, anti human trafficking along with less heavy topics like movies, life in America and so on. I'm actually really excited, I think it will be a great way for me to get to know the community!
As for today, it has already been an eventfull one! Apparently it is some type of national holiday- which one, I don't know- but right outside of the park was a stage set up where people were performing traditional kyrgyz dances, childeren were singing and many people were wearing traditional Kyrgyz hats and dresses. After my host mother and I had been watching for a few minutes she took me around and started introducing me to people. Its amazing, the woman knows everyone! Anyway the last person that she introduced me to was a news man who was filming the event...so yes I was asked to speak into the camera and say "Hello Kyrgyzstan, I love you Kyrgyzstan!" in Kyrgyz...I speak Russian...well at least all of Jalalabad will have a good laugh tonight! Damn!
I can only hope that tomorrow will be just as exciting! I will be going down to Osh City where there is a Women's Leadership Conference being put on by one of the volunteers who has already been serving for one year. It will be all in Russian but I think that it is an excellent opportunity to see what other volunteers are doing during their service here and hopefully I will be inspired and find some opportunities for my own secondary projects. I wish me luck as I muddle through another day!!!
9 years ago