Sunday, November 28, 2010

National Peace Corps Association

Shameless plug...

Hey all you newly-minted RPCVs and friends & family of PCVs -

Have you ever heard of the National Peace Corps Association? Founded in 1979 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the NPCA supports Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and the Peace Corps community through networking and mentoring. It is the longest-standing advocate for an independent and robust Peace Corps and its values.*

Seriously folks...they are pretty awesome and they have a Facebook-like online community for R & current PCVs. Check it out

National Peace Corps Association website [link]
NPCA Facebook like website-thing [link]
Löki is a member of the Serving Volunteer Advisory Group [link]

*Information gleaned from http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/about/

Monday, November 22, 2010

Qurban Bayramı or Eid al-Adha

I just decided I am going to start a new label entitled, Islam Ed. This is the old "Ramazan 2010" label and now, like any good resolution, will focus on us continuing our journey of Islam education.

This week, we be talking about Qurban Bayramı.

In Arabic, Qurban Bayramı is called Eid al-Adha or the Festival of Sacrifice. It signifies when God commanded Abraham (İbrahim) to sacrifice his son Ishmael (İsmail) and at the last moment, when Abraham proved he really was gonna do it, God gave a ram to be sacrificed instead.

Yeah, it's a pretty intense holiday. Two days ago, I saw a Lada [link] filled to the brim with sheep skins. That set me back a step.

Anyway, like last year, I again visited my friends in the village and enjoyed a delicious meal, wonderful conversation, and went home arms full of bounty. Personally, Qurban Bayramı is one of my favorite holidays in Az, but then again, I am partial to sheep meat :).

*For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eid_al-Adha

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thank You

I've recently gotten into creating custom iTunes playlists and decided that a Thanksgiving playlist would make me feel happier about the upcoming season and the eventual departure of all my Az6 peps.

It didn't, but that's because, does anybody know of a Thanksgiving-centric song? Seriously. Do they even exist?

Actually, the actual playlist had nothing to with it. A few hours ago, I was listening to Thank You by Dido (Thanksgiving-y) and I just kept replaying my final hug from Emma [link] and thinking how hard the next few months will be.

And then I realized, this ain't a time to be sad! This is a time to be thankful. It is a Thanksgiving playlist after all.

So, to set my mood in the right direction, let me tell you what I am thankful for:
Besties. RPCVs, Alaskans, one specific Dominicana, and of course, one eccentric DaddyLew;
Memories. Bacon-pushing, Dive-bombing seagulls,Interventions;
Family. Older sisters and brothers, cousins' twitter accounts, and former Girl Scout leaders;
Sisters who work at Apple (and iTunes accounts);
Friends. Dictionaries & pasta machines, emails written without return key hits, YouTube suggestions;
UAF professors & staff.
The color orange and antimatter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I talk about race, a lot.

A friend of mine recently pointed out that I talk about race a lot.

I am assuming I talk about it more now than I ever did back home or he probably wouldn't have pointed it out.

Anyway, I thought about it a bit and I have to agree. I do talk about race, a lot. It is highly probable that if you talk with me for more than a half hour, I am going to bring it up.

But why?

  • Is it that race is just on my mind more now than it was back in the US (Azerbaijan is pretty homogenous and, let's face it folks, I stick out)?
  • Is it the constant race-related issues that I face everyday (my hair is really unusual for locals and is often the topic of passing conversations)?
  • Is it that there are times when I am in that weirdly uncomfortable spot, having to speak for the entirety of my minority-peps back home (anyone else ever been asked, "How is the US Black community dealing with the current GLBT bullying)?

Naw, it really is none of these things. Honestly, race is always on my mind.

It seems weird, but there isn't that much of a difference (between Azerbaijan and the US) when it comes to the questions and inquisitiveness. I think people just can't place me, so they ask. It is just, now, I can talk about my race and how my race has affected me much more openly. This experience has made me think about my racial identity and made me fight for every pixel. If you think about it, that is pretty cool. This experience is as much about self-growth as anything else, so...stick a stamp on me because I'm Developed[ing].

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sometimes, It's Weird.

Right now, I am sitting in my bedroom-slash-living room, next to my mid-sized space heater, typing on my computer and I am experiencing that "I'm a PCV" feeling.

It's weird.

Ugh. I wish I could explain it to you. You'd know it if you've ever been a PCV. You pause, look to your right, then to your left, listen for a moment, and it hits you, you're a PCV living thousands of miles from home, in some polar opposite [from America] country, and you've [enter text here - just celebrated your second birthday in country, ate some smuggled-in bacon, read an email that made you tear up...].

That does not do the feeling justice. It really isn't a whole lot and it goes away in about twenty seconds. It's just...during those 20 seconds everything feels awfully surreal. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Halloween 2010

...after careful thought and deliberations, I have decided not to post pictures of this year's Halloween costume. I will, however, post pictures of our awesome Halloween weather. Goodness, seasons are interesting.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

To Learn A Language

Somewhere along the list of reasons a person joins Peace Corps is "to learn a foreign language". It's definitely a bonus, a perk, a catalyst to the PC process. I mean, I was totally interested in learning a foreign language when I put pen to page and joined up.

And then I freaked out (if you haven't figured this out yet, I freak out, a lot).

A LANGUAGE?! Was I kidding myself? Learning a foreign language is hard. It's scary. It's past frustrating.

Then, you get to Welcome Week and everybody tells you not to freak out (so, you freak out more). You get to PST [link] and everybody tells you it will be fine (it's not). You get to site [link] and you think you are starting to understand (you aren't).

Really, learning a foreign language ain't an easy thing. I mean, duh. You aren't just learning a language, you are learning a culture, a way of expressing one's self within a totally different context. In Azerbaijan, you don't say, "Have a great time!" you say, "May your time pass well." It just ain't the same.

Of course, you get it. You have to work at it, but you do. Now, when I speak in English, I find myself re-structuring my sentences to make sense to an Azerbaijani English speaker. I don't say words in English that I know sound like bad words in Azerbaijani (that's why if you ask me, I say I am ill, not sick") and I stay away from 5-dollar words.

So, I guess it isn't the language that is hard, it's learning the culture behind it. Geez. Those, "ah-ha" moments get you sometimes.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cadılar Bayramı

A little mask making!
and just in time for our happy Halloween festivities, a box from some very good friends arrived and we were all able to enjoy a little Hocus Pocus!
Happy Orange Holiday Everyone!