Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Written May 18, 2010

Warning note to anyone who is planning on sending packages: many of the trainees have gotten packages from home and almost all of them have been cut open and have had things stolen. If you send a package, wrap it well (maybe in more than one box or duct taped like crazy) and include a list of what is in the box so I can make sure everything is there. Any letters or cards you send should be fine.

PST is almost over! We have two weeks left before transitioning from trainees to full-fledged Peace Corps volunteers. I think I’m ready but my emotions are falling on a wide spectrum at the moment, so I’ll try to break it down.

Reasons I have for being nervous:
1. Language. This is my main concern at the moment. Grasping at a familiar verb or noun in a conversation and trying to contextualize it because I can’t fully understand what all is being said isn’t an ideal form of communication. Of course being fluent in Kyrgyz isn’t going to prevent me from finding myself in complicated situations; I’ll still have to deal with drunk taxi drivers, drunk family members, and drunks in general, but being able to at least understand what’s being said will go a long way in making me feel at ease. I know my verbal skills will get better but for whatever reason I feel like I’m plateauing in my Kyrgyz speaking ability, and the intermediate low level isn’t exactly where I was hoping to hold steady. I suppose I’ll have to cram as much studying in as possible in the next week and a half. Insert flashback to college here.
2. I haven’t yet been to Bishkek. I was hoping to get there before we moved to our permanent sites for several reasons: to get more comfortable using public transportation; to visit the Peace Corps office; to check out books from the Peace Corps library; to find peanut butter; to buy a new iPod. My iPod finally kicked the bucket and I’m finding it slightly inconvenient. At the moment I only use it when I go running in the mornings, but on long bus/marshutka/taxi rides when I’m not feeling like having a three-hour conversation about my life story, an iPod is going to be extremely handy. Also, I’m really missing listening to Sean Hayes and José González in the mornings (consider this the passing along of a music recommendation - thanks, Maddie). There’s a chance we’ll be able to get to Bishkek yet before we leave, so here’s hoping.

Reasons I have for being excited:
1. I can cook for myself! At the moment my excitement about cooking and baking for myself is outweighing my other concerns. Those who know me well know I have a particular fondness (some may say weakness) for good food. I like it. I like it a lot. We got our Peace Corps cookbook last week and I spent a good half hour salivating over recipes. On a related note, if you have recipes you particularly enjoy please send them to me! Summer’s on its way and I would like to fully utilize the all the fresh fruits and vegetables that will be available. I can’t wait to make fresh berry pie. And jam. And zucchini bread. And apple crisp. And maybe even vegetable lasagna. Please send me your recipes.
2. I think I like teaching! I’m sure I’m going to be frustrated with the school system, the lack of motivation, and the cheating, but I’m realizing that I really enjoy finding ways to be creative and to make learning English more appealing to my students. Today one of my students in the 6th form class that I’ve been teaching for the past three weeks brought me flowers. It was pretty adorable, albeit a little awkward since at first I thought she wanted me to pay for them. That wasn’t the case, though, and now I have a beautiful purple bouquet proudly displayed on my desk. Next week is our last week of active practicum and I’m going to miss the 6th formers I’ve been teaching. I hope I have at least one class at my permanent site who will give me an equally enthusiastic response.
3. I’ll have my own space. To be clear, I really do love my PST host family. They’re pretty hands-off, low key, and easy going. The perfect match for me. I’m only now starting to feel completely comfortable hanging out at home, though. In part, this is due to the fact that my language has progressed beyond pointing at random objects and asking “bul emne?” I actually had a nice conversation with my apa tonight, although it was no doubt littered with grammatical errors. However, given the set-up of my host family here I still feel a little weird about taking time to sit in my room by myself to study, read, or occasionally watch a “Chuck” episode. I’m looking forward to not feeling guilty about taking time for myself.

So permanent site placement announcements next week. Here’s hoping for Issyk-Kul or (and I may be crazy) even Naryn. I’ll try to get an update in before I move.

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