Sunday, July 14, 2013

Armenian Coffee Klatch


I wrote this piece a couple of weeks ago…………………….
Living room in our Armenian apartment

It is quiet in the apartment now.  Several Armenian lady friends, neighbors who I’ve gotten to know in the past 2 years, came for coffee today.  They have now returned to their homes. I’ve had coffee in their kitchens and living rooms numerous times but never had them in my place all together.  It was fun, a bit awkward at times, but well worth the effort.  My Armenian/English dictionary was the other participant as we all used it to help with communication.  Even after 2 years, I need that dictionary in most group conversations------not really understanding what everyone is saying in the rapid normal pace of speech used by native Hayeren speakers.  Today was no exception.

Ruzan, my next door neighbor.  We communicated through our love of flowers, through smiles and hugs because neither of us knew the other one's language very well.
        Others were invited but had conflicts.   One significant conflict was experienced by my friend who has been trying to immigrate to the U. S. for over 4 years. She wants to go to the US because she is married to an Armenian American and wants to spend her life with him. Today, she had her VISA interview at the American Embassy with hopes of getting approval for immigration to the U. S.  Another neighbor had conflicts with the internet and communicating with her daughter in Russia so came later to have a cup of coffee with me after the others had left. She is my next-door neighbor and even with language barriers we’ve become friends, often discussing the flowers in each other’s garden or talking about the activities of her granddaughter who is avidly studying English

This was no huge event. I made several types of cookies and banana- nut bread which all of my Armenian friends have enjoyed in the past. We had coffee and fruit, and candy brought by one of them.  We chatted or rather, THEY chatted and I listened adding occasional comments.   It was not like a coffee klatch at home in America, but it was like being in Armenia, which is where I still live.  Here I am quieter and listen more whereas in the U.S. I am a talker, totally engaged in conversation.  That inability and lack of fluency in the Armenian language has been my greatest challenge and I felt it today. In spite of that, we were women of similar ages who were interested in each other on a surface level. We were neighbors and had become friends. This was our last such get-together before I leave and it was good.  The women were pleased because several of them had not been inside David and my apartment and I’m sure they were curious as to how we lived.   I was pleased because I was reciprocating for 2 years of hospitality offered me by them.  I was also pleased to again share some of what it is like to be an American, and I certainly learned more about the lives of these Armenian neighbors. 
Flowers in our neighborhood helped draw us together  and provide topics of conversation over coffee as we discuss gardening in America and in Armenia.

 It is a small world and when a relaxed, pleasant summer morning is spent sharing coffee with people from a different homeland, the realization of that fact becomes even more apparent.  Sargent Shriver, founder of the U. S. Peace Corps once said, “Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.” To me, that is the essence of Peace Corps service and I felt it as I sipped my cup of coffee with these friends.

May they experience peace in their lives in Armenia after I resume life in the U. S. with that same blessing.        Judy

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