Saturday, February 27, 2010

Can I Call Them "My Minions"?

Now, somehow and another, I got myself a weird reputation with Az PCVs...I am not really sure how it came about, but it's there and it's strong. Odd how the little things end up defining you as a person... 

Anyway, apparently it is a widely held belief that if you visit me, you are agreeing to become my sous chef, my chopper, mixer, right-hand man (or woman).

Personally, I have no problem with this. I like to cook. I like to experiment and there ain't no better time to experiment than when you gots a couple extra hands and a willing soul.

Plus, everyone gets a good (debatable) meal out of the deal.

As far as reputations go, it could be worse.

To learn what the heck Mike is making here, visit Pumpkin Ravioli [link].

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Everything You Need To Know About Visiting Your PCV

Got a hankering to visit a PCV? Well, before you go, you should know...

  1. Ask the PCV when is the best time to visit. Holidays, school vacays, and summers are usually the best time to crash a PCV's house.
  2. Find out where to fly into and out of...sometimes, one airport is wicked cheap or easier to get to.
  3. Bring stuff - gifts for host families, vacuumed-sealed bacon, index cards - this will save you shipping costs and make a PCV's day.
  4. Find out appropriate attire, weather conditions, and simple dos and don'ts before arriving.
  5. Be prepared for uncomfortable travel, lots of walking, and the occasional downtime moment.
  6. There may be a moment or two where we ask you to do some work. We are PCVs 24/7.
  7. Don't be afraid to chat up local friends, but be aware that a PCV may not always be completely candid with everyone at his/her site. Some things are just best left unsaid.
  8. Remember that the PCV represents the US while in-country. If you are with us, so do you.
  9. Sometimes, there is stuff we cannot do because we are protecting our reputation, but as an outsider you can. Ask the PCV what you can do to help grow the understanding of American culture.
  10. Don't swear too much. Some words do not need translations.
(Löki reserves the right to add more to this list...)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Peace Corps Mission (A Review)

Aight. Before I start taking about Peace Corps week (March 1 - March 7)...let's review.

What is the mission of Peace Corps?

Well, if you hit up the Peace Corps website [link], you'll find a brief and direct mission. I think it was written this way so that PCVs could translate it into whatever language they need to with ease. It goes: 

1. Help people in interested countries to meet their need for trained men and women.
2. Promote a better understanding of Americans.
3. Promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
Through my continued projects (Z'Photo Club, Z'Art Camp, GLOW, convo clubs, computer classes, and my hopefully implemented world wide web course and social networking 101) I am getting goal 1 done.

My goal 2, although a bit more vague, is always in action (visit "Adapting" [link]).

And goal 3, well, that's why I blog.

Any questions?

Note: Picture is of me learning to make xengel with my friend Könül and her mom. If I want to eat, I gots to do goal 2.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Acronym Game: MSC

Did my "mass hysteria plan" post leave you wonder what the heck we all did at MSC?

I bet so.

So, here's the basic run down:

MSC (or Mid-Service Conference) is that fun time where a PCV gets poked, prodded, and tested to the federal government's content. Dental exams (no cavities here - thanks again Dr. Stang!), language tests, physical exams, eye checks - it's all included in the three day testing extravaganza.

Of course, there is also the customary conference piece including a panel of RPCVs to ask tons of questions to and a workshop on how to support the new group of PCVs (or the Az7s). I also sat in on a session on sport activities and another on gender issues in Azerbaijan.

Normally, this all goes smoothly and evenings are jammed packed with quality hanging out time and game planning moments (we all can't have our summer camps on the same day, now can we?). For us, it all happened a bit differently...

We got snowed in! Of course, it was not so awesome on day 4, but day 1, we had a blast. Lots of movie watching, chatting, and a couple dozen games of Settlers of Catan (and yes, I won the last game!).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

GLOW Camp 2010

In case you were sitting on a pile of unused funds, GLOW Camp 2010 is soliciting donations for its 2010 girls leadership camp!

Visit Camp GLOW: Donations [link] on the Peace Corps Donations' website for more information.

PS This year, I have taken a more active role and have the wonderful opportunity to create a donor brochure, develop their viral marketing campaign, and assist in developing their mass communication. Legendary!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We need a mass hysteria plan

In the life of a PCV, there are 3 major conferences:

IST (In-Service Training);
MSC (Mid-Service Conference); and,
COS (Close-of-Service Conference)

In the life of the Az PCV, there have been 2 major snowstorms:

New Year's Day of 2009; and,
MSC of 2010

That's right. MSC came to an end with several days of snowed in frustration (it started out as bliss...).

The upsides of three forced days in Baku:

I updated my computer.
I hung out with a super cool RPCV and friend, Selim [thank you for hosting me!].
I listened to George Michael's Faith about 6 times.
I FINALLY won a game of Settlers of Catan.

Friday, February 5, 2010

What do MLK, Borat, and Obama have in common?

They make me proud to be a PCV.

I bet your mouth is agape with mystification right now.

[Side note: Last week, my adult woman's conversation club and I watched MLK's "I have a dream..." speech and discussed civil rights, peaceful protest, and why MLK, Jr. Day is my favorite holiday. A few days later, I watched Borat and was appalled to hear Americans cheer for the destruction of Muslim civilians. And then, Obama gave his first State of the Union which reminded me of the hope that one day, all Americans will support equality and civil rights for every person in our great nation]

[Second side note: A few years ago, my dad, sister, and I enjoyed a holiday vacation in Hawaii. While we were there, we met a mixed race couple from Alabama who were honeymooning. At the time, I did not understand what their relationship meant or what it probably would endure in the future. My dad did. I am sorry Dad for telling you to stop talking. You were right. I was so wrong.]

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What is is like to be...home.

Ah. I am back in Azerbaijan.

It is a bit of an odd feeling. I am really happy to be back. To sleep in my bed. To experiment in the kitchen and spend 2 hours making bite-sized peanut butter cookies. I really like having more than 2 pairs of socks at my disposal, least to say of the ability to wash them whenever I feel like it.

Yet, I am a little frustrated. The "Alaskan Löki" had taken over. I was no longer "PCV Löki". I used 5 dollar words and spoke a mile per minute. I talked about my family (all about my family) and referenced my own personal experiences with abandon. I was finding that balance between who I am in Azerbaijan and who I was in Alaska.

And now, I am back to being just PCV Löki.

It is frustrating to realize that I, again, am speaking too fast. That I have forgotten simple Azerbaijani words and that my tempo of speech has been disrupted by weeks of not using the language. It is frustrating to have to listen to that inner voice that says, "you probaby should not say that out loud."

I love being a PCV, but, oi, I do love being just Löki more.