Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lots of Xengel

So, a week or two ago was my region mate Mike's birthday.

Mike is one of those unique folks who has a birthday only every 4 years, so weren't sure which day to celebrate his 26 years...so we decided to celebrate it both February 27 and March 1.

A pretty darn good deal if you ask me.

At any rate, Mike wanted a stack of delicious xengel...which I happy obliged. I love to roll, crimp, boil, and fry 100 pieces of deliciousness.

Still, it was a good thing I had help.

PS I revised my original xengel [link] recipe post. Check it out!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Keeping My English Up

It's inevitable, the misuse of English words; the failing to recall a simple turn of phrase. Yesterday, I told my site mate, "Don't worry. Meat stays." He, of course, looked at me weird. The word, saxlamaq, in Azerbaijani, means to stay and to keep. Oh, whoa as me.

So what do PCVs do to keep from falling too far down the linguistic rabbit hole? We challenge each other to Scrabble tournaments, several PCVs are studying the GREs and have vocab lists covering their walls. Personally, I try to do a crossword everyday (I got an awesome crossword-a-day calendar recently) and I thank my lucky stars, some kind family members sent me, Take Two.

Take Two is an awesome create-a-crossword-faster-than-your-opponent game. Although, I am not as good as say, Amy, the undisputed Scrabble champ in our region, I do like to throw down a puzzle or two. A few monthly games of this and hopefully, I won't be saying, "Hey, I plan to keep in Alaska for awhile" when I return home.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

When you don't want to be a PCV...

The days I haven't wanted to be a PCV are few and far between, but they are there.

They are the days when miscommunications and unexplained rules stop something great from happening.

The days when after weeks of careful planning, everything comes crashing down around you.The days when something happens at home and you can't be there to hug your friends or be hugged by them.

Being a PCV is hard. Sometimes, I think my friends and family know more about me now then they did when I was at home. I blog, I write emails, I complain on the phone. I talk about me 24/7. Now, I am no where near as humble as I should be, but even I have to admit, that's a lot of me.

I know so little of what is going on at home. It's hard to think about that. It's hard to to think about it because it hurts to know what I am missing. The first kisses of new couples. The helping to paint a spare bedroom wall. The 2nd coffees and political debates.

I missing being a shoulder to cry on and crying on the shoulder of friends. After all is said and done, being a PCV is 2 years of my life. Being Löki has been, and will be, forever.

There are days when I don't want to be a PCV. Today, yesterday, and last week have been some of them.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why I Joined Peace Corps - Revisited

As we continue our week-long Peace Corps Week festivities, I thought I would revisit an old blog post: Why I joined the Peace Corps [link].

It took me a few minutes to find this blog (I think I categorized it wrong), but once I did...I sat down to really contemplate what (if anything) has changed 17 months in. Written on July 24, 2008, I wrote about making a different, helping people, my love of volunteerism, my hope to finish my MA degree, the challenge of Peace Corps and becoming a better person.

What do I feel now?

Well, the same really. I joined for all those reasons, but I am staying for slightly different reasons. I stay because I am not a quitter. The harder things get, the more I want to finish. I stay because I can see the horizon - the hope of influence and development and change - and I want to see it happen. I stay because I really like some of the people here. I still wake up and am startled by the realization that I am still here, still working. I stay because I know the language and can actually talk with someone about my personal thoughts. I stay because now, it is time for people to get to know a more accurate Löki. I stay because it's what I need to do.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Brief History of Practically Everything Peace Corps

Happy Birthday Peace Corps!

As I prepare for a week of Peace Corpsy-activities, I realize that we've (you all and me) have never covered the Peace Corps basics...so...

What is Peace Corps?
Peace Corps is an independent U.S. government agency that provides Volunteers to countries requesting assistance around the world. The agency traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then-Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries.
How many countries has Peace Corps been in?
139
How many countries is Peace Corps currently in?
76
Lay down the stats, yo:
60% women, 40% men
93% single, 7 % married
16% minorities
7% over the age of 50, average age: 28
89% have at least an undergraduate degree

5% in Youth Development
5% in Agriculture
14% in Environment
15% in Business Development
22% in  Health & AIDS/HIV
35% in Education
5% in "other"

37% in Africa
24% in Latin America
20% in Eastern Europe & Asia
7% in Asia
4% in North Africa/ Middle East
4% in Pacific Islands
4% in Caribbean
One big stat: Nearly 200,000 Americans served
Information taken from Peace Corps website [link] February 25, 2010.