It has been far, far too long since I made a post. For a while I was just really busy, and then I started putting it off because I knew how long it was going to end up considering the time between posts. Regardless, I'll try to cover the most important things over the last two months, and keep it short.
First off, I'm still in Armenia. As I think I noted in my last post, I'm beyond the point where leaving would do any good--but that's no longer the main driving force behind staying. I realized, after several comments I received, just how much bitching I was doing. While no one said that in so many words, in actuality that was the truth of the matter. I was being such a whiny bitch that I was missing out on the possibilities around me for real enjoyment.
Many people in Peace Corps--both volunteers and staff--have told us that Peace Corps is what we make of it; though I'd heard it umpteen times already, it really didn't sink in until after making the last blog post and getting some of the comments I did. So, I decided to stop the bitching and try to start seeing the positive in life around me. Since then, I have been so much happier. I've stopped being so bitter towards this country, its culture, and some of its people and am really starting to love where I am and what I'm doing. Finally, the entirety of the slogan "The hardest job you'll ever love" is starting to be true for me, instead of just the "hardest job" part.
A significant part of the reason I'm so much happier now, of course, is that I've started working with a new NGO that is entirely within my sphere of interest. It's really strange, the times when life decides to throw something your way. Not more than a week after making my last post, in which I complained about the inability of PCVs to do work that may be considered controversial, and noting specifically the areas of peace and corruption, a guy approached me in my organization about working on a new NGO he was starting called Peace Dialogue. The main focus of the NGO is to increase the amount of information that is passed between the government of Armenia and society on the state of the peace process in the region. The goal is basically to build grassroots support for an understanding of the peace process, for government to become more sensitive to the needs of society in this sphere, and for society to understand what the realistic options are for peace in the region. The project that we're working on is both huge and incredibly important.
Just as important, it has been incredibly intellectually stimulating for me, professionally rewarding, and has greatly increased the amount of time I'm actually spending doing work. I'm now actually able to work on a project that I feel is beneficial to Armenian society at large, and that is related to my academic and professional interests (I want to work in DC on Capitol Hill, and it will be of great benefit to have experiential as well as academic knowledge of peace and international relations issues).
I am, of course, still working at my primary organization, though I am in no way doing things related to environmental education there--which is fine with me, as I've found that it just isn't something that interests me. I have 5 English classes a week there, which are fine. I don't love doing them, but neither do I hate it. The kids are good, though this experience certainly hasn't given me any greater desire to work with children nor much more fondness for them. And, of course, still have my debate club at European Academy (no more theater club, just debate club, which makes me happy).
I think that finishes with the work side of things.
I've been having a hell of a good time enjoying the outdoors here the last couple months as well, and just enjoying spending time with new friends. I went snowboarding a while back on the one mountain in Armenia, which made me utterly and completely happy. Had I not been able to go boarding this year, it would have been the first time in six years that I hadn't been boarding at least once during the winter, so it was a relief to not break that chain. I really do love snowboarding with all my heart, and while the mountain was not that great, nor was the snow, it was just so good to be carving around on snow and barreling down a mountain at high speeds. And I managed to get my video of me boarding, instead of just pictures (though it's not terribly exciting).
I've also been making a ton of new acquaintances and friends through CouchSurfing. Being in Vanadzor gives me a great opportunity to host people, as this is one of the places people come to when traveling through Armenia. I've hosted people from France, Lithuania, Sweden, Germany, Ukraine, and Poland. Which is great, because now if I ever visit any of those countries (and I am at least visiting France this summer) I have a place to stay in any of them. Here's a picture of me with a couple of them.
And then here's just a couple other random pictures from hiking.
So, to summarize things, life is pretty fantastic these days. My outlook on life is far brighter, and I've got real, meaningful work. I continue to enjoy greatly the people I'm meeting and the experiences I'm having. It's really an incredible opportunity and experience.
Until next time.