Sunday, April 17, 2011

we've got the beat


week 6 started today. than means 4 weeks to go. i think technically it means 3 weeks and 6 days to go. ☺ most importantly it means that i am getting so much closer to finding out where in the world is Carmen Sandiego..err i mean when i in the world i will be living for the next two years. i cannot wait for this. not only will i know what the region will be like, i will also know which trainees i will be near to. it is difficult with a country so big. if i had been placed in maceonia i could have already traveled all over the country by now. i would be in a day or two’s drive to any of the other volunteers. Kazakhstan is very unique for the peace corps.

it is the 9th largest country in the world. it is the size of texas x 4 to give you perspective. my volunteer assistant told us yesterday that she is only 9 hours away from her boyfriend and she was very glad about that. i went to school 9 hours away from home. that’s a long distance relationship & she is glad about it! i could end up in aktobe which is 48 hour train ride from almaty. whew! and the weather is so different. I could be up in petropovlisk (spelling?) where the other trainees in my group are supposedly going where it is freeeeeeeezing. or i could be in shymkent in the south where it is super hot in the summers. the suspense is killing me! anywho i find out may 7th where i am going. then the next week is our counterpart conference where we will meet the counterpart we will be working very closely with for the next two years. yay! and then on may 14th we will be swearing in as official volunteers. apparently right after swearing in they push on trains to our permanent site and that is that.

for swearing-in it looks like my Kazakh group will be singing a song. in front of country officials. in kazkah. i’m actually pretty stoked about this. our lang. teacher spends about an hour of every class singing songs with us. i haven’t heard of any other group that gets to do this. he also teaches us dances. it may seem meaningless but it is so important to the culture here. Roman tells us that music is the language of the Kazakhstani soul. it is so true. if i even start humming a Kazakh tune the entire house will be singing in minutes and won’t stop for hours. Roman is also an awesome singer, dancer, and toaster. He rocks a gold grill and it 47 years old. he’s a tiny dude but his voice packs a punch and he managed to get me to waltz gracefully around our language room.

he taught us this one song that is split by guys and girls. it’s about some guy that spots a pretty girl and is begging for her name and the girl won’t give it to him. when we sing this song roman makes us stand up and Katrina and I (the only girls in the class) have to link arms and walk in circles around the room. The guys then follow us. When we get to the chorus the guys drop to one knee and we turn and face them and sway. then we sing our part refusing them and they start chasing us again. it is pretty hilarious. this is another song we are learning that we will probably sing for swearing-in (it is written and composed by Abai. he is huge here):

көзімің қарасы

көзімнің қарасы, көңлімнің санасы.
бітпейді іштегі ғашықтың жарасы.

Жырлайын, жырлайын ағызып көз майын
Айтуға келгенде қалқама сөз дайын

Қазақтың данасы, жасы үлкен ағасы
бар дейді сендей бір адамның баласы.

Apple of my eye, consiousness of my sould
The would of love cannot be healed.

Dear fellow – Kazakhs, older brothers
I did not know that there could be a person like her

I sing and cry my eyes out
My words are ready to be said to my sweetheart

i'm going to try and get a recording of us singing this at some point, but i don't know when my internet will be good enough to post it anywhere.

movie night with the other trainees in ecik. we're watching tangled, thanks to my awesome mother.
catch ya on the flip side,

Saturday, April 9, 2011

living in the moment

sorry for the lack of updates. i have been super busy here. we started teaching last week. i am teaching a 1st year class of translators. their English level is very low. the class is super structured, and the students never use critical thinking or group or pair work. i am trying to push the envelope with my lesson plans, but my first lesson crashed and burned. the students aren’t comfortable enough with me and their class is usually taught with a great deal of Russian language support. the communication barrier is massive. getting participation is a bear. communication with my counterpart is also difficult. we are just on two different pages. this coming week i will be teaching two lessons, one with this class and another with a new class and counterpart.

i think i have finally reached the point in my travels where i am becoming comfortable here. i have officially been away from home for one month. i am starting to fall into a routine that makes life more comfortable. granted my schedule is packed with training, homework, & lessons. i am also getting to hang out with some awesome trainees. what i have enjoyed most about being in Kazakhstan is being forced to live in the moment. i think i spent several hours a day at home in the states thinking about the future. my next meal, my next job, my next big move, here it just isn’t possible to think this way. i have absolutely no control over my future. at all. i don’t know what i will eat for lunch tomorrow. i don’t know where i will be living in a couple months. i don’t know what my training schedule is this week.

i spend each day living in the moment. it is amazing. it has it’s perks and downers. the thing about living in the moment is that you really feel every emotion throughout the day. i really feel every high and low. when i successfully teach 200 students to line dance during English club the high radiates through me. i am content in an unimaginable way. i love being here. and then moments later i am standing over the dog i have been feeding for the past two weeks lying dead on the side of the road. & the low is so low. and the heartbreak literally aches throughout my body. & in that moment this is the worst thing that could have happened, & i don’t know if i will make it one more minute here.

the important thing is that at the end of the day i can reflect on the highs and recognize that they truly outweigh the lows. yesterday i had the worst morning ever. i saw my dead dog & then walked in to teach my lesson and it flopped. & then i got torn to pieces in the debrief of my lesson. as if i wasn’t already aware of the disasters that had just occurred. but my day ended with me having one of the best nights since i have been here. i watched a sunset from my apartment roof, played on a merry-go round (and then got told to leave), scrambled through an abandoned building, stood at the top of a hill in between two giant brush fires, hung out at a friends house, and finished the evening standing & seesawing in a playground. & i had these fantastic opportunities with the company of some really awesome trainees. last night as i was crawling into bed i was amazed at how easy it is to turn a disaster of a day into something i will never forget.

p.s. spring is finally here! & the kazakhstanis celebrate in style. although my mom tells me that it will be cold again on monday. boo.

p.p.s i promise my next post will be less abstract and give some more concrete stories of my time here.

bedtime for this kid,