|Dave and my Peace Corps training group in the Vienna airport|
awaiting plane to Armenia, June 4, 2011
How could we forget the somber duduk music playing in the background or the hot coffee and delicious Armenian pastries served to us as the sun rose and shone on that special place? And as Dave wrote in an earlier blog post, we had a fellow trainee amongst us whose name was Noah. Now how special is that?????
Today, June 4, 2012, was also special and impressive. Dave and I were in attendance at the U. S. Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia to meet and greet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was making an official visit to this country. Only 20 Peace Corps volunteers were allowed to participate. We were chosen through a random drawing of those who expressed interest in the event. Although Secretary of State Clinton’s speech for us and Embassy staff and their families, was brief, it was exciting just to be a part of such an event with all of its protocol. A few volunteers even shook hands with Mrs. Clinton. We appreciate U. S. Ambassador John Heffern for including representatives from the Peace Corps staff and volunteers at this event. It was also gratifying to be amongst Americans as a group and to feel a part of the efforts to promote peace in this part of the world, as mentioned in Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks.
So June is here and new feelings arise. After spending 4 days last week assisting with the orientation of a new group of Peace Corps trainees, I feel their enthusiasm, their apprehension, their eagerness to get started with work in Armenia. We were right there in the same mind-set a year ago as we began language classes and moved into our host family homes. So much time, yet so little, has passed and there’s so much to tell these fresh new faces----many young and recently out of college while others are seasoned and filled with valuable experiences to share in Armenia. My hope is that this new group will take it slowly and not become overwhelmed with the new culture and life being quickly thrown in their direction. I hope they will absorb as much as they can each day and then go to their new homes and families and reflect upon what they have chosen to do with their lives, to relax, and to avoid frustration and over-concern with perfection. I want to tell the new trainees so much yet do not want to ruin the unique experience each of them will have based upon their own perceptions of Armenia, the people they meet, and the training they receive. (Of course, there are tips along the way, i. e., be prepared to eat more than you’ve ever eaten in your lives because Armenians are very hospitable and view food as the way to be kind to others; always have toilet tissue with you because many facilities do not provide it; and make your preferences known regarding drinking coffee and vodka early on---before patterns are established.
June… the month for brides, Father’s Day, and warm sunshine in the U. S. But, in Armenia, it will be the month for taking a deep breath, planning future projects, and figuring out how to make the best use of the time Dave and I have left in this Peace Corps service. Before we know it, another year will have passed and we will awaken from our dream of serving in the Peace Corps and wonder where the 27 months has gone. Although there have been challenges and there will be future rough spots, we would not trade the experiences we’ve had for anything and only hope to have positively impacted a few Armenians along the way.
Secretary of State Clinton’s call for continued work towards a peaceful world is just part of what Peace Corps volunteers strive to do during their service. May we all reach that goal in our small part of Armenia, and in our own personal worlds, day by day. Judy
Dear readers, I apologize for not posting more photos with this article because they definitely would add to its meaning, however, I have experienced great difficulty in getting images to post properly. Even with the help of the young and technically expert fellow Peace Corps volunteers, it is not happening in a timely way. I wanted you to have these thoughts and will try to post additional photos later. Hope you enjoy the text, at least! Thanks, Judy