Monday, February 21, 2011

And this is why we serve...

Today this popped up on my sweet Mac Twitter app. It was from a former counterpart and friend who moved to Turkey at the beginning of the school year. I definitely feel all warm in fuzzy inside today :) Way to go us!

@eayna İ got new work in american culture society ! thanks to Peace corpus volunteer 4 they education how 2 teach!!Löki Jessica and others!! love u

I love social media (well, all except for Facebook...still not on it).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Social Capital of Zaqatala

One of the first things my Az5 site mate Donny [link] told me when I arrived in Zaqatala was, "We've got a rapper."

I remember saying, "Okay. Cool?...", and secretly thinking, "um...so does Americastan..."

However, fast forward a year later and the first thing I told my new Az7 site mate [link] was, "We've got a rapper."

Weird how that went full circle.

Anyhoo - it seems like a weird thing to boast, but you have no idea how cool it is that we've got a rapper. I could go on and on about the homogeneity of Azerbaijan, but for now we will just say that it has got to be difficult to be the counterculture in this country.

The Zaqatala rapper has had it rough, from his own words, people think he is a joke. For him, rap is not only his art, but also his sense of self - his take on the world - his voice. I cannot tell you enough how impressed I am when he freestyles or when I see him walking down the street in his baggy jeans and NY Yankees hat. To be him in the land of skinny jeans and page-boy caps takes some guts.

Anyway, check out his videos. I know you probably will not understand a word he says (I barely understand his songs - my Azerbaijani is not that good), but it still is pretty cool.

PS Replace all present tenses with past. Yesterday, our rapper moved to Russia...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

ReTWEET!

Okay, family, friends, fans...I have a request.

Can you please please please retweet me [link]? It's the tweet about Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams being invited to Come On Jon Stewart...

But if you cannot find my tweet, just cut and copy this:

50th Anniversary PCV present! Calling on @TheDailyShow to invite #PeaceCorps Dir. Aaron Williams to #ComeOnJonStewart on March 1st!

!! Yippie !!

PS March 1st is Peace Corps 50th Anniversary...and I love Jon Stewart (and Peace Corps), hence the request.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ayo Technology

At 7:50 this a.m., I participated in UAF's Rural Development Management Strategies (RD 651) audio-course.

Yup. That happened.

Three times a week, I am making early mornin' calls to my last 2 RD Master's classes...the earliest being 6:10 a.m. It's hard, but totally worth it. Inshallah, in May I will be graduating with my MA and done with these early morning call-ins. Then, it is just late nights with me and my internets.

Wait - hold up - did you say internets?

Yes. Yes I did.

Prior to joining the 'Corps, I figured that I would be spending 2 years in a mud hut, eating grasshoppers. I don't really think that this assumption was too far off as that is what a lot of people assume the Peace Corps is: African mud huts.

Well, it's not. With less than 40% of PCVs serving in Africa [link], there are a heck of a lot of other countries out there to be serving in. Today's Peace Corps' sites are as diverse as the countries Volunteers serve in. You may be in Turkmenistan [link] where it takes days to get to post...or you may be in Thailand [link] where almost 5,000 Volunteers have served since 1962.

The point is...its a big world out there and you may have high speed internet. Still, high speed internet does not equate indoor plumbing...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Not a Packers Fan But...

I still bet on them. I mean, my long love affair with the Bills [link] still exists, but honey...I be po' and I like winning.

So...along with my blind spread (thanks Mathias for teaching me how to do that) and a side bet or two, I cleaned up with SuperBowl XLV.

Plus, I got to spend an uncomfortable few hours with a bunch of people I barely now (see Rae's blog [link] about extending and my comments [link] about Az8s if you don't know what I am talking about).

That - the uncomfortable hours - was...well, uncomfortable. It is hard breaking into a new group. It is really hard breaking into a new group that is still solidifying their own friendships and figuring out their role in this whole crazy thing. It is hard when you don't have any inside jokes or a buddy to hang with. I mean, I am pretty sure I looked like a weird freaky loner the whole time.

Which, if you know me, is probably the weirdest situation I have ever found myself in. I think I am overly personable and rather open, but that doesn't always play when you are in the 'Corps.

So, I guess my point is that even in year 3, I am still out of my element and struggling. It is so totally weird.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Everyone's in the family way...

So here is a topic I really haven't addressed: Being left behind.

Eh. I am not sure if that describes it. It's the all-my-friends-are-pairing-off, getting-married, and/or in-the-'family way' feeling.

Well, that is not exactly entirely true. Not all my friends are doing any of those things and I don't necessarily feel left behind.

It is just...when you are preparing for Peace Corps, it never hits you that two years is really a heck of a long time. For some weird reason, you think you will be able to keep all your ties, things at home won't change too much, and you won't change at all.

Psaw. You might as well try to stop J.J. Abrams from ruining my life by blowing up Vulcan...or for you non-Star Trek nerds, it is impossible to stop life.

People at home move in with their significant others. Favorite restaurants close. People have kids. Friends pass. Bookstores close. Besties move away. Stuff you couldn't possible imagine happening happens.

Yet even now, for some odd reason, I expect a lot of my old life to be exactly the same when I get home. I kind of expect to be exactly the same. Weird, huh?

And, I know, I know. Things aren't going to be the same. It will be like meeting my friends for the first time and trying to navigate through a new hometown. That's life...it's gosh darn scary to think about, but it is what it is...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm Just Playin' - Löki's Schedule 3.0

I was going to write a whole blog about my schedule and then I realized, I've done this [link]. I have told you all what I do all day. My schedule really does not change up all that much...

-I have fun kids' clubs and I have eh. basic English courses.

-I try to mix it up every couple of months and do something exciting and I meet with local counterparts to outline potential projects.

-I help people fill out applications for exchange programs and I visit my friend's houses and talk to their moms about why my parents have allowed me to serve in Peace Corps.

-I spend hours washing my clothes by hand and I spend more hours filling my belly.

-I spend about 20 minutes fretting about how messy my house has become and another 20 minutes sweeping my floor with the tinniest broom in the world.

-I Google easy TOEFL questions and I update my blog.

-I explain to the post office lady that I am not Jessica and I take deep breaths when young boys pelt me with snowballs.

-I wake up at 5:45 a.m. for my Master's classes and I read hours worth of homework whenever I remember to.

And...I listen to podcasts. I listen to a lot of podcasts.