Friday, November 11, 2011


     The Smith's continue to serve as relatively new Peace Corps volunteers in Armenia, going about our daily work as an English teacher (Judy) and a business man (David).  Armenia will be our home for the next 2 years, but we can't help thinking of our first assignment with  Peace Corps Niger.                                    
      Our Peace Corps Niger volunteer group recently celebrated its 1st anniversary of staging in Philadelphia followed by pre-service training and swearing in as official volunteers in that country. Soon after moving to our permanent villages in Niger, we were evacuated and many of us have been re-assigned to Peace Corps volunteer sites all over the world.  On the occasion of that anniversary, David wrote the following e-mail to our group of 40 who continue to stay in touch via e-mail, Skype, cell phones and occasional snail-mail.   We intend to have a reunion in the future once everyone has completed their service, wherever that might be and whether in or out of the Peace Corps.
David’s First Anniversary e-mail to our fellow Niger group reads:
 In Niger, we had a mud hut with a light fixture, long lasting bulb and light switch-----but no electricity. In Armenia we have electricity but, alas, no light fixture, light bulb or switch.  Our mud hut had an opening with a tin shutter; here in Armenia I have a window with broken glass. Both countries seem to use the ground as the proper receptacle for all plastic trash. Both countries have more than their share of corruption. Armenians have more than their share of vodka, but they need it.  To say cold    doesn’t do the word or climate justice!  Armenians certainly have more food, better health care and education, but have recently been reported to be the 2nd least happy people in the world (Huffington Press). Niger wasn’t listed in the top or bottom tier on the happiness index. The second biggest difference that I see in the 2 countries is in the opportunity to accomplish something as a Peace Corps volunteer. In Niger I might have made some difference at least to a few individual people, and I’m not sure that can happen here. However, the biggest difference is in the Peace Corps volunteers themselves. The folks here are good, well-meaning, hard-working, and well educated but they aren’t us. We are still Niger, and I thank each of you.  
Plastic Covered Broken Windows in Dave's office in Armenia
Executive Bathroom in David's Armenian Office Building