Yesterday was a momentous day for me, not because I did great things or that my students went home saying that they learned more English because of my lesson during their class. It was momentous because more smiling faces emerged from the people on the sidewalk, from the bus, from the local khnoot. Maybe it is because spring seems to be also emerging with more sun and touches of green, warmer temperatures, and increased activity on the streets in our neighborhood, but whatever the reasons,yesterday was memorable. Let me explain..................
As I walked to my college a random little girl walking on the opposite side of the street and headed in the opposite direction from me, burst across the street and came up to me to show a drawing she was taking to school. I had never seen this child before, but many children walk the same route as I during the morning and I do not know each and every one of them. This little girl was rosy cheeked, wore glasses (very unusual in Armenia) and was visibly so excited. She spoke to me in English and answered my question about her drawing which was actually quite good for a small child. She was so very proud of herself and just wanted to share with someone. I was the only one available at the time, I guess. After our brief conversation, the child darted back across the street and to my horror, she ran directly in front of an on-coming car. The car was speeding as many do on this major street and it never slowed down. Fortunately , the little girl with the unfinished art piece made it across the street safely, probably not even realizing that she almost lost her life after speaking with me. I was appalled at the thought of what might have happened right before my eyes.....an innocent child could have been killed for no reason except for showing joy, happiness and the sheer exuberance of youth. Oh, if only that driver could be made aware of what he might have unknowingly done........................ that began the momentous day in which little things meant a lot because of the brevity and uncertainty of life.......for instance..............
As I reached school, a group of male students were having their last cigarette before entering the building for class. They are always there, in their black leather jackets, getting that last unhealthy drag and nicotine fix at the top of the steps into the building. They usually mumble "hello", "barev dzez" or some other cursory greeting. Today, though, several of them smiled, spoke clearly and greeted me, asking how I was and actually acting civil to an older person, a teacher at their school. This was a change in behavior I was glad to witness.
Teachers were friendly today, trying to engage in conversation which is as difficult for them as it is difficult for me. The faculty and staff at my college, Dilijan State College, have been overwhelmingly supportive, helpful and patient with a stranger from another country who speaks their language terribly yet who wants to communicate. I appreciated their efforts yesterday because they were sincere and unasked for.
Later, as I awaited my language tutor in the local high school, students greeted me in the hall. They frequently do say "hello" because they all take English as a foreign language, however, today there was a different feel to their greetings. Was it because I was still reeling from the incident earlier in the day when the little girl almost lost her life after talking with me????
On the bus back to my neighborhood I encountered the bookkeeper from my college. We both were trying to get on the bus and being pushed and shoved by other riders as Armenian bus riders do. It's as if each bus is the last one on earth. We were not able to sit together but as she left the bus, she turned around and handed me a bus ticket. She had paid for my ride as well as hers. What a kind gesture, and I appreciated it.
Then I stopped at the local produce market where David and I like to purchase fruits and vegetables. The lady who owns it works hard, never missed a day even during the coldest weather, and has always been friendly towards us, unlike some of the other vendors in the area. While there, another customer came in and said, "Judy, namank at the Hay Post". I recognized this woman from the local post office and knew that she was telling me to go and pick up mail. It was a good feeling to have someone realize who I was and to give me that message since there is no mail delivery and only through a phone call or word of mouth does one know there is mail waiting for pick up. Mail is precious here and sometimes never arrives from outside Armenia. We do not know WHERE it goes but when a letter makes it to our local post office, it is a good day. Today there were 2 letters waiting for pick up.
|Judy and Arpine, neighborhood friend in Dilijan|
As I finally walked home after going to the post office, a young woman in the neighborhood who speaks excellent English and who is desperately seeking a job, caught up with me to say that she may have a job once the election is over in early May. She has been coming to our apartment weekly to practice speaking English. She had missed the past 2 Monday's and was most apologetic. We walked a short distance together and she said, "I think I've just got too much to think about right now to study, but I'll do it again soon". I had a lot to think about too, after today's simple yet eclectic encounters. We could certainly resume working on English and Hayeren another day so I reassured her of my understanding how she felt.
Today, the same little girl mentioned in the beginning of this post saw me as I was walking home from school. She was on my side of the street this time and as I approached her, she eagerly unrolled the piece of art paper she was carrying. This time, the picture was totally colored in and complete. Again , she was obviously quite proud of herself and seeking praise. I said all that I could think of to let her know how much I liked her picture and what a good job she had done. She asked me my name. I told her "Judy" then I asked hers.....'Erica", she said. We said good-bye and continued on our separate journeys.
Just as yesterday was momentous, so is today, because Erica is here. What more could I ask of a day in Armenia.