Friday, October 31, 2008

When Our Powers Combine...

We are not Captain Planet, but we make a pretty darn neat team!
Meet J-tastic, my PCT-mate and my Convo Club partner (doesn’t he just look fun?!).

Jesse, a fellow YD Trainee, hails from the land of wavy wheat and...thunder?...Oh ya, I fit in a reference to arguably one of the greatest musicals known to person!

This O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A native enjoys music, a good history or food book (I know he is going to love Animal Vegetable Miracle), soccer, and big hair. We’ve had a pretty good time exploring Sumqayit and dodging marshukas. We’ve also had a great time running our Convo Clubs and I cannot wait until we start our Computer Club.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Convoing

Ha, ha! Another word to copywright!

Last week, a fellow PCT-mate and I facilitated our first Conversation Club. For those who don’t know what those are, they are clubs that converse (;)).

No really, that’s the point of Conversation Clubs. Through Convo Clubs, PCTs get to know local youth through fun games and stimulating conversations. In addition, youth get to practice their English and we (the PCTs) get to practice our Azerbaijani.

Of course, it’s not as easy as it would sound. My PCT-mate and I barely speak Azerbaijani and let me tell you, explaining a game in broken AZ and simplified English doesn’t quite get the rules across as one would hope. Nevertheless, we had a great time and I cannot wait for our next meeting!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Daily Show

Interested in the daily life of Löki? Check out this wicked sweet schedule:
8ish - Wake up and get dressed
8:30ish - Breakfast with host mom*
8:45ish - My host mom* gives me chocolates for the day!
8:50ish - Begin my 10 minute power walk to the local school
9 to 1 p.m. - Language lessons
1 to 2ish - Walk home for lunch with host mom*
2ish - Return to school or head to YD hub site
2:30ish to 5ish - Conversation Clubs or YD workshops
5:30ish - Return home and have tea and cookies!
6ish to 8ish - Study and/ or ballet conditioning or power band stretching
8ish - Dinner or tea and cakes with host brother
9:15ish - Bed

*I call my host mom and dad brother and sister. They also have a son I also call my host brother.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Free Facials

One super exciting thing about being in PST is the opportunity to act like a tourist. Although, PCTs spend a majority of their week in language classes, YD, CED or TEFL workhops and studying, we do go get the occasional opportunity to relax and check out the awesomeness that is our host country.
Here are a couple of pics from a wonderful excursion out into AZ country. Getting a hang for the acronyms yet?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Guesting

An integral part of Azerbaijan culture is guesting. I know it sounds weird to use guest as a verb, but it’s an action here.

A week ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to go guesting at a current Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) site. I spent three great days enjoying delicious food (Vy hooked it up), fun company (Vy, Barbie and Will are awesome), intriguing debates (we watched all the past Presidential and VP debates), and learning about what it’ s like to be a PCV in AZ.

Of course, we talked about the basic stuff- make sure to utilize your Counterpart’s contacts, go guesting often to build strong community ties, and make sure to develop relationships with adults as well as youth.

But the real money answers were the stuff that wasn’t so obvious - don’t wash your jeans in the winter: they take 3 weeks to dry, nobody will believe you when you say you saw a camel, and you can get oatmeal here - the label just happens to be in Russian.

Thanks Vy for being such as awesome hostess! I can’t wait to return the hospitality!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Greatest Story Ever

For an amusing AZ Peace Corps training story, read Baku to the Future's blog about toilet etiquette!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spanglish

One of the funniest things about learning the AZ language is how us Trainees seem to revert back to whatever language we learned last when we don't understand something. For many of us, that seems to be Spanish. Just the other day, a fellow PCT-mate of mine asked our Language and Cultural Facilitator (LCF), Por Que?

Like the picture?! It is of my Language Cluster and our AWESOME LCF!

Friday, October 10, 2008

First Time Jitters

It stands to reason that the first time you meet the family that will house you, feed you, and become your “in” into your host country’s culture, you may have a few butterflies in your stomach.

I, of course, spent a majority of the night before running through every possible scenario in my head. What if they don’t like me? What if I make a huge faux pas within the first five minutes? What if they put milk or milk products in everything (I didn’t know how to stay I am lactose intolerant then).

One of the AZ 5 Volunteers told me that the first 10 minutes would be all out awkward, but after that, it would all work out. I obviously was skeptical and decided only the worst could happen...and did it?

Of course not. I stepped off my bus and was hugged and kissed by my host mother and grandmother before being ushered into the house. My host family graciously allowed me a few moments to collect myself and unpack and then treated me to delicious tea and cookies while we maxed out the extent of my AZ language skills (hi, my name is, I am from, where is the toilet..).

Overall, I would have to say the whole experience was awesome. I love my host family and cannot express how much I look forward to coming home after a hard day of language lessons and YD workshops to delicious meals and struggling (but improving) conversations with my host brother and father.

So, my advice to Invitees embarking on their service - don’t sweat it. Only the first ten minutes are awkward.

P.S. The picture is of my Cluster moving to our new homes. As you can see, luggage far outnumber the occupants of the van!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Technological Advances

Hey, guess what?! Me and my bad self just got some AZ digits!
Now, I can text message with the best of them (watch out, I am wicked fast with the thumbs) and even sweeter than texting my new PC friends?! I can text message you! Well, that's if you have AT&T (I am told T-Mobile works as well) and a GSM phone.
I can receive phone calls for free, but be warned, it may cost you your season Ace's tickets to holla at me.  My advice, try Skype - I think it is cheaper (no confirmation on that front, yet).
So - if you want to type it out! Send me an email and I will send you my phone number!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Last Rites

Getting that last American hamburger (stacked with extra bacon) or drinking that last American dirty martini seems of utmost importance when you are faced with 27 months outside the US.  Since starting Staging and Pre-Service Training, that's all most of us can think about.

A few days ago (at least a week by blog standards), I enjoyed a delicious dirty martini with a few Trainees. While sipping our scrumptious brews, we discussed politics, anxieties, and perceptions. Can't wait to spend 27 months with these awesome people!