Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Juneteenth

Got a minute? Let's chat.

As you may know, I'm black.

I know, I know. This comes as a bit of surprise. I mean, I look...well...who knows what I look like. I get everything; from Brazilian to Jessica Kimi to Arab.

But for those who know me, being black has been a struggle for me. If pushed came to shove, I usually get obstinate and just not tell people what my ethnic make-up happens to be. I get really annoyed by that question. I get really annoyed that people ask that question after knowing me for all of 2 minutes.

Unfortunately, it is a question I get here whenever I step outside my house. I get is from locals. I get it from Americans. I get it from PCVs. There is just no getting away from it. Everyone is curious [for reasons unknown to me - but I could surmise...].

Interestingly, in Peace Corps, I have become way more black than I ever was in the US. I mean, now I consider myself Black (big b).

So, I spend a lot of time teaching locals about civil rights and Black American history. It is important to me to not only show that even though my first designation is always, "Alaskan," my Black pride is strong.

That's why, on June 19th, I (and several Az friends and PCVs) celebrated Juneteenth! Yeah for emancipation in Texas.

The picture is of the jambalya I made - a no-where-near close proximation to my ma's...same with the fried chicken. Oh well, next attempt will be awesomer.

Friday, June 25, 2010

There Are Times...

As much as I love my job, there are times when I just want to fade into the wood work.

Last week, I blew up (in Azerbaijani) at a teenage boy who thought it would be cute to make faces at me.

This week, I spent 20 minutes explaining the ethnic differences between my site mate Jessica and I to a guy at the bazaar.

Maybe I am losing it.

Now, don't get me wrong. Most times, I love this piece of my job. I love being a living example that not all Americans are blond and blue-eyes, but come on! A few weeks ago, a guy would not let up that I must be an Arab and therefore, a terrorist (yes, I was called a terrorist).

It's just...whew. Sometimes, sometimes I want to just be a girl on the street and not the uncommon looking self-proclaimed American who attracts every sort of attention.

PS The picture is of me making cherry wine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Girl's Night Out

My goodness...I just had my first Girl's Night Out in Azerbaijan.

What? How? Huh?

When I first arrived in Az, I thought a Girl's Night Out was a distant concept. I mean, gender roles in Az are pretty...set, and the idea of a group of girls having the ability to paint the town red (so to speak) was definitely not within the realm of possibilities.

Still, the thought of just kicking it with the girls for a night would creep into my mind whenever I was really missing home. Goodness, how I jones for Meggers, Aggie, Gina, and Sarah. A night on the town with them sounds like heaven...maybe throw in a per-chance meeting with the boys (after, of course, we sufficiently had our girl time) and you've got yourself an evening.

Never thought that would be possible here.
But, low and behold, it was.

Of course, it took a little pre-planning by Jessica and I. Still, last Friday, we celebrated our first true blue Girl's Night. [Alcohol-free] Cocktails and a delicious dinner at a fancy restaurant was just what the doctor ordered for my homesickness.

Not to mention, 7 Azerbaijan women just chillin' had to be a site for anyone who saw us. Ahh...sometimes I love this job. Breaking barriers and introducing ideas. Love it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Extension What?

So, I've dropped the big ball. I'm apply for an extension, but what does this mean?

Well, firstly, It means I want to stick around Az for another year. Of course, there are a thousand and one reasons, but for now, I am going just going to focus on the process. We'll get to the reasons later.

So, how does one apply for an extension...

Well, #1, you've got to have some pretty darn good reasons for wanting to extend. I mean, at one part in the process, you've go to list them out, so knowing why you want to extend is pretty high up on the importance list.

#2, You've got to tell people. According to your PCV handbook, the last possible moment you can request an extension is at your Close of Service conference. For us in Az, our illustrious Country Director has asked everyone to submit formal requests by July 1.

#3, Now you go to list out your reasons i.e. make that formal request. I would post my formal request, but it is rather cheesy and embarrassing, so I am just going to highlight pieces of it when we get to that.

#4, You wait for approval or denial.

Me...I almost am done with part 3. I need to get a letter of support from my host organization and then I've done a, b, and c. After that, it's the waiting game.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Viral Showcase!

Please enjoy this viral showcase from the first Z'Photography Club!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Excursion to Georgia

It's June.

If you were a PCV in Az, you'd get what that meant: BREAK! Since you'all are probably not, I will explain:

Last bell (the last day of school) in Az is a pretty big deal. It's like graduation, but for everybody. Parties happen. Kids on the street happen. It's a happening time.

And then comes dead air.

I am not sure where everyone goes, but they go somewhere. For the average PCV, this means you end up twiddling your thumbs for about 2 weeks.

That's all fine and dandy, but it gets kind of boring. So most of us, take a few weeks vacation. Of course, most of us are legally impoverished, so an intense vacation isn't really a possibility - especially at month 21.

So, what to do with less than $200 USD and a couple weeks of time...go to Georgia! For me, Tbilisi is less than 4 hours and $8 USD away. 8 days in a gorgeous tourist friendly, inexpensive, beautiful accommodating, pork-eating country is worth every day of scrimping at home.

Now, I just want more friends and family to visit so I have an excuse to return!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

SUPER BIG REQUEST

Being a PCV is hard. 1. You've got no money. 2. You constantly need things from the United States. 3. You are always asking your friends and family to help you out. (4. Your dad lives in Nome and doesn't have much access to art supply stores)

With that being said, I have a big, big request:
Please send me screen printing supplies before June 25, 2010. 
The people and children of Zaqatala may not realize the extent of your donation, but love you peripherally through Peace Corps.

Why do I want to (and think I can) screen print dozens of t-shirts? Well...
  • I found a coupe of DIY tutorials [link] online and it doesn't look hard;
  • My site mates have done it before and they tell me it's not too hard;
  • I watched Jesse (my cousin) screen a couple dozen t-shirts for Christmas once;
  • I want to print t-shirts for our upcoming Z'İncəsənət Summer X'travaganza Program, but don't want spend all my camp money on printing t-shirts; and,
  • I would love to "sell" t-shirts at our July 4 family fun run (AzerDash), but don't want to charge more than the 3 AZN that the t-shirt would cost.
Please? Anyone? What I need is this:
  1. Drawing Fluid
  2. Screen Filler
  3. Lots of black screen printing paint (Speedball seems to be promoted a lot)
  4. Orange screen printing paint (of course the AzerQach t-shirts will have orange on them)
  5. Blue screen printing paint (it's Könül's favorite color and will accent the summer program t-shirts)
This may be a huge undertaking, but...no pain, no gain.