18 October 2011

Students, stuff to do, and spies - oh my!

While sitting in one of my classes today, waiting for them to finish working on an exercise from the book, the call to prayer echoed throughout the village. And it reminded me just how much I love hearing that every day. Yes, at 4 in the morning during Ramadan it was a bit grating, but most of the time – so beautiful! Which then got me thinking about how much I can’t wait to be able to hear it and understand the whole thing. Or experience it somewhere like Jerusalem, the West Bank, Egypt, etc. Seriously, couldn’t tell you exactly what it is that I find so fascinatingly beautiful – the words and language, the melody, the message behind it, the unity it brings… More than likely it’s all of the above.

Of course, this all made me super excited and anxious about heading to grad school to focus on this and then spend the rest of my life (burusaa) working in the field. Just think of the havoc I could cause doing something like this. Or the pictures I could take and then DO SOMETHING with. Or even just be able to travel and learn more about the world! As excited and ready for that next adventure in the UK, hopefully, to begin, I think I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that it won’t happen for another 20 months. Obviously, I’m good to go right now, but I have prior obligations; I’m finally getting projects started here. Leaving now would be the worst thing I could do for myself and the people in my village.

Now, when I say I’ve started projects, I really mean that quite a few have magically (and suddenly) ended up on my lap. As overwhelmed and swamped as I may feel with all of these projects now on my To-Do list, it feels so damn good to think that I am actually doing something now. All those months of passivity and inactivity were really getting to me mentally. I mean, I understand that 7 months is really nothing when looking at the whole picture of 27 months, but when others are executing projects, writing grants, attending trainings, having amazing language skills, and rocking at everything they do, it gets to you. One of the things that I have to constantly keep reminding myself (thank you, Steve Root and your blog entry on the same subject) is that each PCV has a completely, 100% different experience than another. I cannot keep comparing myself or my service to anyone else. I just have to do everything I can, the best that I can, in my own life.

What follows is a brief summary and breakdown of what’s going in my life at the mo’.

-       While I’m not in charge of the grant writing or other such logistics, I’m helping organize the housing for the run that’s happening in Talas next month. But let’s be honest, housing for 40+ people is no easy task. Also going to be working with one other vol to help photograph for the event. Hello, working-on-my-portfolio! If you have seen my note on FB, you know what it is and why, but if you haven’t: a whole bunch of vols from around the country are coming in and running a half marathon, 10k, or 5k in order to raise money (through donations – we’ll be pimping the link ASAP, please be patient!) and awareness about heart disease and nutrition among Kyrgyz people. The money we raise will be used to put on a training-of-trainers (ToT) next year on the subject, hoping vols with then go back to their oblasts and villages to create health and nutrition clubs.
-       The newest project is one my friend told me about just yesterday. It’s not a giant one, but still requires getting funding through writing a grant (EEK! My lack of grant writing abilities is starting to really get to me.) and a bunch of planning. Basically, it would be a three-ish day camp, focusing on English, over winter break. I’m hoping, that since whomever I work with and I can pick when it will be, my Morocco trip with Mom (OMG!! We’ll come back to this in a few) won’t be a problem. More updates on this one as they develop.
-       But the one I’m most excited (and fucking terrified) about, and will probably take the most out of me, is this really cool dance thing. I will be creating a dance – a mix of hip hop and modern – with some different dance groups in Talas City. We’re designing this for an organization trying to bring up discussion about bride kidnapping. In my head, the dance will have a storyline similar to that from Centre Stage (right, Ri?): boy meets girl, she plays hard to get but really likes him, bad boy sees her and tries to ‘kidnap’ her, both boys fight, girl gets in the middle and almost dies, which then leads the bad boy to realize his mistakes and turn to the good side. If things work out, the dance will be taken around the oblast (and maybe the country?) to festivals. So excited to finally be able to concretely choreograph something and for a worthwhile cause! However, the same things that make me pumped also scare the bejesus out of me – SOMUCHPRESSURE. This could be a defining project in my service; can’t fuck this up. And people I respect are counting on me to do amazing things with this. Oh baby God.

In other news, everything else is going relatively well. School is in full swing, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good thing ‘cause it keeps me busy and it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. Good thing ‘cause some of the kids are amazingly talented, motivated, and just make me feel like I’m doing something helpful here. Good thing ‘cause that means that I’m also working on some clubs as well. The clubs have been going well, I guess. They’re technically English/dance/theatre clubs, but we have been focusing on dance and fun Halloween stuff for the younger and older kids, respectively. Hopefully they’ll work out and I will continue to enjoy ‘em. :)

Bad thing ‘cause it means early-ass mornings (we all know what kind of a person I am; if not, the answer is: not a morning person!), without coffee – homegirl can only wake up so much earlier to get ready without having to worry about making instant coffee too! Bad thing ‘cause I’m finding out what my frustrations are within the school system here. I don’t like the grading system. I’m finding it super hard to not be taken seriously by students when I’m on my own because I’m not scary enough or I’m the ‘cool’ teacher (this one’s new to me – never been the ‘cool kid’). I’m hoping that once my students and I better know each other, my counterpart and I get more comfortable with teaching, and the year progresses that everything will work itself out. Fingers crossed for me, will you?

Now for the fluff:

‘Of all the gin joints, in all the world, she walks into mine…’ Yes, that’s right, folks: come this December, the mother unit and I will be heading across the pond (for her, for me it’s just across a gihugic landmass) to good ol’ Morocco. We’ll be there over New Year’s basically just taking in all of the ‘major’ sites and tourist attractions. Casablanca, Rabat, Fez (if only Eleven could come with…), Marrakesh, riding camels to and spending the night in the Sahara Desert. Yes, please to all of the above. So excited to have this to look forward to – will serve as my 9-10 month marker and cheesily enough, the legit longest I have gone without seeing my mom. Miss the balls out of her and CANNOT WAIT to see her. Also, my camera and I are freaking out in excitement about the pictures I hopefully will be taking. Get ‘er done!

And I know that you’re all very much intrigued to know that I’ve indeed finished the entirety of Chuck, at least what’s aired already. Can I just say? Goddamn. Didn’t think that the show would be as entertaining as it was. So many crazy-ass, wonderful cameos (Dom! Sarah Connor [right?]! The dude from one of the newer Star Treks! Superman [ew, did NOT like him at all]!) and the chemistry between the cast was just too awesome. Obviously we will NOT be forgetting a certain Mr Levi… YESPLEASE. Aside from the aforementioned gentleman, I think one of my favourite things about the show is the little shout-outs to other pop culture references it had. One of my all-time favs: when Chuck is reading the 1st Game of Thrones book and says to it (something I do ALL THE TIME, talk to my books) ‘Oh come on, Eddard, you don’t let your kids keep a direwolf!’ Such clever writing. So ready to find out what happens in season 5, but not too pleased upon hearing that this will be the final season. What will I do to get me through the last few months of my service in 2013?! *facepalm*

In terms of books, finished Joseph Campbell’s Power of the Myth which was fantastic. Currently trucking through the second of the Game of Thrones series. Gosh, does that man know how to write a series. I think that Tyrion Lannister is one of the most compelling and fantastically complex characters I’ve ever encountered. And I just love little Arya with my whole being; so feisty. Cannot wait to see what happens in the books, especially with the very pretty mental images I have in my head while reading, thanks to the HBO show.

If anyone has any books they’ve thoroughly enjoyed recently, GIVE ME THEIR TITLES. Have been going through far too much television (Chuck, Castle – OMG!, Dexter, Archer, and How I Met Your Mother) lately and will need something to get me through the winter! With that being said, if you have new TV shows that are fantastic (and more than just one season), send those in my direction too. Haha.

So wishing that I could be in the States for Mike’s 21st on Thursday, but know that we’ll have many more birthdays to celebrate once I’m finished with service. Missing everyone like it is my job; thinking of you all every day. Let me know what’s going in your lives – I love hearing from you all. Hope everyone is doing splendidly. Will try and be better about updating from now on; damn Chuck just took over my life and wouldn’t let go. All my love to the moon and back.

PS – When does Daylight Savings Time end/start? So wish I could take part in it, could use an extra hour (or seven) of sleep.