Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Working on Christmas

In Peace Corps we are not given Christmas Day off. So, I still ahd to teach class. I was able to have some of the boy volunteers come and stay with me and give lectures to my kids and do activities to explain American Holidays.

One of the boys, Gino, was born and spent his childhood in Russia so he speaks fluent Russian. The other boys Brandon, Zach, and Justin don't speak any Russian. They learned Kygyz here in country. So, what we did is those boys talked in English and then Gino would translate into Russian. Then we did some activities with the kids. The lectures were, um... interesting to say the least.
Zach talked about Christmas in all of his lectures. He seems like a pretty good teacher. He was engaging and asking them questions and getting them to read what he wrote on the board. Even taught them what CAROL means. Great teasher I give him a 5(A in America).

Justin, well he is not a teacher. He is a business volunteer. It was a scandal and a half that he wrote with his left hand. For me it felt like he was trying to diagram how to get the GDP up for Halloween. His talk to my 5a class about Ground Hog's day made us look less than intelligent. Gino couldn't think of the word for Ground Hog so he said Large Rodent. Hearing about a day where a large rodent comes out and sees it's shadow was weird. My students looked perplexed, I could understand where they are coming from. It does sound like a pretty stupid idea.

The best talkes, for those of us who understand English at least, were my friend Brandon's. They were passionate and heartfelt. His first talk with my 6a was about Independence Day. He came out of the gate swinging, "We all know one thing: America is the GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!" Gino looked at him, Brandon gave him the eyebrow raise to translate it. He did, with a little change. He translated it to, "America has many holidays." Myself and Gino were the only ones who knew what had just happened so Gino had to suppress and giggle while I bit my lip and started making squeeking noises as I tried not to laugh. Brandon then kept going between my world map; that is situationed under some bubble letters that say, "Life is calling, how far will you go?", and the front of the room. He went on about the vil empire of England and the Great nation that is America. He started writing on the board about 1776. My 6a is alreay generally confussed class, so I instructed them to take out their notebooks and copy down what he was writing on the board. He started ranting and raving about tea and the Bostonians dressed up as Native Americans. The thing about his rants is:
a. He was so passionate and loud
b. Gino was quite and none emotional while translating
c. Gino rarely actually translate what he said
Brandon also did a lecture for my 4a class about St. Patricks day. The day where we all become Irish, we get pinched if we don't wear green, the ADULTS drink green beer, and the city of Chicago dyes its river green. My students I was sitting by kept asking why to all these things and I wanted to just say, "It's an excuse to party." I instead kept telling them it is a tradition and aren't traditions fun, and asking them what they think about traditions. It really does sound stupid to the outside world.
The best of his talks and probably the one that actually had the most impact on my students was his talk on Independence day with my 5a. He started out this time with what is the most important thing in the world? My students answered: love, life, beauty... Brandon picked up the numb of chalk and wrote, "FREEDOM". He then turned around threw his hands into the air and yelled, "FREEDOM!!!!" My students giggled but didn't know what to do. Gino translated it into Russian very monotone. I then instructed my students in Russian to repeat what Brandon had just said. So, they all said freedom. I then again instructed them to repeat, and this time I participated myself all of us throwing our hands into the air and yelling "FREEDOM!!!" in unison. Then we started repeating it and I told them to be passionate. FREEDOM!!! The boys I was sitting next to pulled out their notebooks and wrote down freedom and the russian translation, if they didn't have a notebook they tore out a piece out of the other kids. They then kept practicing the rest of class and asking me if they were pronouncing it correctly. After the freedom chants were done Brandon said, "All men die, but few truely live." Gino actually translated it. He explained how the British treated us like dirt and how we had to break free from these oppressors of FREEDOM.
At the end of my 5a all the girls asked for "Very Beuatiful Zach" to autograph their notebooks. All the rest of the kids joined in and got autographs too from all the boys. These guys were super stars to my kids. Overall, it was great. I had a great time. The guys had a great time. My students got to learn about American Culture. But for me part of why I wanted those guys to come and talk to my kids was because I wanted them to see an example of great guys. They don't always get that where we live. And judging by my students treating them like rock stars I think they did just exactly what I wanted them to.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sledding and Ice Skating!

The kids in my village say they like sledding, yet we live in a FIELD!!! No where for kilometers and kilometers is there so much as an incline. I live in pretty much the flattest part of on of the most mountainous countries. When they say they like sledding they like having someone, normally me if I'm around, pull them on a sled. They also like ice skating. This includes holding onto the back of someone's coat while they walk along and they slide on the ice. Yesterday I had a line of 8 children latched on to my coat and they thought it was hillarous as I ran faster and faster on the ice. They thought I was playing but in reality I was just trying to shake 'em loose. Didn't work and my neighbors came out to watch the specticle and kept telling me they were impressed by how strong I was. "My, you'd let 8 children in a line be pulled be hind you that is impressive." I was too embarressed to admit that I was only pulling so many children cuz I wasn't strong enough to get away from them. So I smiled flexed my arm and kissed my bicep and went into my house to do some push-ups.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dance for it!

Yesterday I went to an English speaking Church in the capital city. It had people from all over the world. India, China, New Zeeland, America. The pastor is Scottish. During the service he had us get up and make a conga line to celebrate the good news. :) It was pretty boss.I was told by another volunteer that maybe if there had been conga lines at his church growning up maybe he would have kept going to church. I do have to admit it was pretty fun.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Now we're talking about what I know

“Sit down; you’re not pulling anything that I haven’t already thought of!” I say this in English to one of my students who can’t understand one word that I just said. He gives me a smirk then takes a long leisurely stretch and makes as much nose as he can in the process. I smirk back thinking, ‘Honey, came up with that one in Mrs. Ladd’s 1st grade class!’ He slowly walks back to is chair and does as I suspected he would pulls the chair out so it scraps along the floor then turns it around so he is sitting backwards in the chair. This time I think, ‘Nothing that Mrs. French didn’t have to put up with in Excel in English in 5th grade.’ I’m not impressed. The things he just did are suppose to be a warm up to really agitating the teacher, to making sure not even the most studious of students can pay attention, to blatantly not doing the work. However, this is the best he has to offer. He sits down I stare at him and he turns the chair back around. Later he will hit one of his fellow classmates with a spit ball but that is easily ignored by the rest of the class. The next day when I ask where his homework his, he shrugs his shoulders and says he hasn’t done it. See, I’m not, not impressed, because he has disrupted class but for the lack of creativity the lack of flair. See I am an expert on how to really gnaw at a teacher’s goat, if you will. Let me give you a few examples:When I didn’t do homework I didn’t just say I didn’t do it. No, too simple, too expected from the talkative student in the front. (the front? Yes, back of the room disturbances are expected, being right in the front give an air that you might eventually crack down and study and forces all other students into disruptive behavior) No, I would hand write a paper in the class before, annoying that teacher, listing out all the reasons I did not bother to do the homework. It normally took as much if not more effort to do this than if I had just done the assignment. Then there were exams, particularly math exams. Where when knowing that I knew nothing for the exam I would proceed to write ten in for every answer. It was right once, but I only got partial credit because I didn’t show my work. Another time I wrote a very nice note about how I hate advanced algebra and it wasn’t going to help in life. Mrs. Erspamer wrote a big zero on the top with a smiley face in it. She liked my note Now a great way to disrupt the class and still get a good grade is to have actually studied and not just that but looked up background information. This is effective for actively interrupting the teacher with little nuggets you have found out, stopping other students from talking by correcting how what they think is right is actually wrong, and it helps for writing your tongue and cheek research paper. I’m still proud of my paper “Our Enemy to the North” in which I proved that beyond a doubt we should attack Canada. My presentation on it was top notch as I got sophomores to become passionate on the subject and kept them asking me questions about exactly how can we extract all their natural resources. That leads me to another good one for English class. Volunteer to read your paper you wrote. You have to make sure you have not actually read the book of which your paper is on, but be extremely critical about the author’s scholarship of this so-called “classic”. Yeah, I’m sure Dickens was great and all but I don’t need stories about crazy ladies in wedding dresses. If this is too much work learning show tunes and singing them on key trigger words is affective. Bringing in Varsity Blues and slipping it into the VCR while the teacher is gone for her cigarette break also works. When the teacher has you sit outside the classroom start to play wipe out on the lockers. Asking the weird lonely kid with the magic cards to please explain how awesome they are, and if that has not taken enough time move on to the pure awesomeness of Dungeons and Dragons. These are a bit of my tamer exploits into my past of being a disruptive student because I’m sure by now my mom is laying on the keyboard going where did I go wrong? However, then I get to point out I got into her alma mater, made Dean’s list, and graduated with Honors. Also, that all these exploits happened 4-16 years ago. Although, I could disrupt a college theatre class like no other for the simple fact that I can mimic mannerisms fairly accurately and Theatre Profs got some rockin’ mannerisms. Please, don’t think I say all this to brag. Not true. I just want to back up the fact that I am an expert in this field. There are lots of things I am not an expert on Napoleonic wars, Heisman Trophy Winners, Vegetarianism. But leading public school teachers and students alike, completely off topic. Oh, my friends I am an expert. I also know that from my time in excels and honors classes smart kids are the best ones at disrupting classes. Their creative little brains when turned towards the bad can be very powerful. And I could lead those kids in the disruptions. I’m not saying that makes me really smart, but does mean I could control the really smart kids. That is why when students show some caliber of excellence in the field of disrupting classes my inside urges want to nurture it but my roll as teacher has led me to trying to crush it. Examples of some of my better(disrupting) students:There is a second form boy who is shockingly disruptive with little effort. He touches everyone. All the time. Not fighting or hitting or being mean in any way. He just keeps touching them, the other children. I keep telling him to stop but it doesn’t happen and I can’t take him to the director for I would feel like an idiot explaining in my broken Russian that he touches the other kids, for no apparent reason. This is brilliant for it is a difficult issue to get under control for its lack of chaos. Then I have a third form boy that simply won’t sit down. When he doesn’t do his work he has this adorable and infectious giggle that says look how cute I am not doing my work. When he does do it, and I have written a 5 on his paper, he does a killer Michael Jackson impression. This stops all the kids and myself as we watch him spin, sing, dance, and moon walk. That is talent when even the teacher has to watch and can’t find the muster to say sit down. With my fifth form classes they have a lot of issues with cheating on exams (really quizzes, but we call them exams). On one exam I had the Russian word for flower as a bonus question and they had to write it in English. Only one girl got it but there were a bunch of boys with Violet written down. I couldn’t figure out where this came from but all the boys do sit together so I knew something was up. Then in the next class a boy Roma was talking to me and he pointed to alphabet chart next to “V” and said, “Violet (in Russian now) that means flower.” I looked at the chart looked back at him and smiled. Ah, that is where they got it. I called the boys out and was like you boys got caught coping off of this board and it isn’t even right the world for flower is flower. One boy Anatoli stands up, outraged that I could accuse him of cheating off of that board, “No! I copied off of Roma!” I suppressed my smile and told him to sit down because that was worse, I wasn’t actually mad about the coping off the board since it was my fault for not taking it down. I couldn’t be mad at him for coping off of Roma for is impromptu confession was too funny for me. Then there is Vallerii. My 6th former. A child after my own heart. He hardly comes to classes but when he does it is almost certain nothing can get done. He is actually pretty smart, but knows absolutely no words that I have taught him but can fluently repeat any rap line he has ever heard and anything I say in English not related to the lesson. He knows an abundance of curse words and how to properly use them. I have stifled that by looking at him blankly and asking if that is German. When he realized he is failing my classes he started pulling his chair up next to mine while they were suppose to be doing their writing exercises. Everyone was enticed to watch our dialogue instead. There is a sort of brilliant flair to his disruptions that I admire and would be co-collaborator if I were in sixth form with them. Only recently have I found a way to stop his antics. I made a deal that if EVERYONE, I had to keep reminding them that means Vallerii too, turns in all their homework and is very good for a week and a half we will play volleyball one day. This has lead to the other kids forcing Valerii to sit down, pleading with him to remain quit, and lending him paper and a pen to do his writing assignment. We’ll see how it works out. But again I gotta say I like his style, and trust me I’m an expert on these things.

Monday, December 4, 2006

I want you to appreciate what you have

If you live in America there is one thing I can pretty much guarantee you take advantage of and don’t even really appreciate it for how awesome it is. You especially don’t appreciate that it is in side. The Toilet.Yes, The Porcelain God. See I have learned how awesome they are, especially since the cold snap that started a few weeks ago.I have also built up a tolerance. I can go very long periods of time without using the “toilet”.Some volunteers here have toilets. I am not so lucky. However, most everyone I know that lives with a Kyrgyz family has a pit toilet (read whole in the ground). I have pretty much a standard issue outhouse. Now when I want to go to the outhouse I will sit and debate how long I think I can wait. When the time comes that I can’t wait anymore the process begins. I put on a pair of tight track pants, and snow pants (more like rain pants but the best I got). Then I put on two or three layers and my coat (a rain coat, again the best I can do). Then I have to debate whether I think it will be a quick trip or a long trip. If it is a long trip I put on a hat, coat, and scarf. Short, I skip all that. Although the other day I thought it would be a short trip and my hands went numb in the process and I couldn’t feel the toilet paper and accidently dropped it down the whole. That is like a mortal sin here, you HAVE to throw it in the trash. Then I have to walk from my room in the back of the house down the hallway through the kitchen. I turn on the lights to the outside. I gently walk down the stairs trying to avoid slipping on the ice. I get down the stairs and try a brisk pace, but still needing to be careful because of ice, so the wind doesn’t blow the snow off the haystack on to me. I walk past the pig pen, then through the cow barn and try to avoid their toilet area. Then I gently shuffle down an icy slope. Get hit by the stabbing cold wind in the open area. Have the dog try and attack me and I’m there! I do my business then have to do everything in reverse. We do have German magazines in there if I am so inclined to read them…. I don’t read German. So, I want you to make sure and fully appreciate everything you have. Even if it is in your least favorite room to clean.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fall of the CCCP

I have to admit, I love Russian Babushkas. In my training village I instantly made friends with about 6 Babushkas. They became known as my Bab Squad. These women, there is no other way to put it, are tough. They survived the Soviet Union, then the fall of the Soviet Union, then being thrown into the 21st century with out decades of preparation for it. The other day I was walking behind two Babs on my way to church. I could see this giant piece of road that was broken and sticking up into the air. However, one of the Babs didn’t see it. She went flipping over it. Don’t think that it was a gentle fall either, some nice little trip. No, no, no. It was head over feet, face down into the ground kind of fall. I came running up to help her up. The whole right side of her face was gashed open and bleeding, so was the backside of her right hand. She joked with me that she is getting too old since she didn’t see that bit of road. Her friend let her know that she was bleeding. The bleeding Bab reached into her packet and got a napkin and gentle started dabbing the blood, all the while joking with me and her friend. It was a little while before she even noticed how bloody her hand was. Oh, well look at that… and she started dabbing at her hand. She and her friend did not make a big deal of this. Yeah, she fell she was bloody, that stinks, but that was about it.This is not a mirror of the Russian girls I deal with on regular basis. This new generation of Russian girls is nothing like the oldest generation left. They are whiny, moody, spoiled, and will burst into tears over the littlest things. I want them to look at their grandmas and see that these are tough women. These are women to respect and admire. They need to see that if the don’t shape up they won’t be treated with the same reverence their Babushkas are. I hope she put some iodine on those cuts.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Purpose Statement..

The other day I was having a bit of a crisis. I had my face pressed against the cold glass of the bus and was staring out at the fresh coat of snow. I was thinking, "Why am I here? Why do they need to learn English?" I was praying for God to show me a sign and he sent it. Out the window I saw an ordinary boy walking by and he had on a Red Sweatshirt. It all was so ordinary so not the sign I was asking for till I read his shirt...In very large block letters his shirt read, "BOB'S WIFE"ahhh... That is why am here.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Doesn't it Feel Good?

"Doesn't it feel good to be alive, when you're going somewhere."-Colin HayThat is from a song called "going somewhere" by Colin Hay(lead singer of Men @ Work). I love that song and love to rock out to it when I am in any mode of transist whether it be by foot, train, marhrutka, bus, or plane.There are sometimes where it does not feel good. Where all I want to do is get to where I'm going and be there. Several bad rides I have had before are:When our van broke down in Alabama and Diane and I had to hitchhike to the nearest town to call a tow truck. The man who picked us up had a couple guns in the truck and was rockin' an NRA sticker. (That wasn't bad, as weird and uncomfortable)There was the time in Africa where there were six of us girls crammed into the car that was swerving and bobbing on the slick muddy roads, through the rain as we went higher up the mountain. I holding my friend Grace on my lap while the driver explained that the lake we were driving next to was the third deepest lake in the world. I screamed out, "Oh, good they won't be able to find the bodies!!"Even here there was once a ride I thought was as bad as I would encounter in this country. Lydia and I were on our way back from guesting and had three gentlemen get into the marshrutka with us. One brought on a full gas tank. Another a bottle of homemade alchohal(read: moonshine). Last gentleman started smoking out the crack of a window. With all these elimanants on the Marshrutka I wanted it to go very fast, but at the same time very, very gently. This past weekend topped them all. I was going out to Cholpon Ata to visit some other volunteers. A trip that should have taken less than three hours. It took over nine in the end. I had to go out to the city of Tokmok. From there I was suppose to easily catch a bus out to Cholpon Ata. I had just missed a bus by a couple minutes, so I had to stand around for another hour. Then when one did come I got on but a couple minutes later they pushed me and an old lady(the only other white person, don't know if it means anything, but I noticed) off the bus and said they couldn't take us. We talked for a little bit neither of us knowing why we had been pushed off.It was getting late and I didn't want to be arriving too late, so I started talking to taxi drivers. They wanted way too much money and there were no other people interested in sharing a cab with me. After over an hour of stopping as many cars as I could that went by and them telling me they weren't heading that way(even though it is the only way to head out of there) I eventually got a marshrutka to stop that was carrying packages out to Kara Kol. He said he could take me because he was going to have to be driving through Cholpon Ata anyway. I agreed to 150 som, more than I should have paid, because I was tired and figured it would be faster than a bus... if I ever did get one. We went along well enough at first but then it seemed he had to stop for EVERYTHING. I decided to ignore it and read my book I had brought along. The mountain pass was was really pretty with a fresh coat of snow, which ment we had to drive even slower for "safety". We did get stopped at a check point and the driver paid the bride, errr... I mean toll. Then drove a 100 yards , stopped, talked on his phone and told me to get out. I refused at first. Then I got out to figure out why he wanted me out. He said that he had a buddy coming with a bus who would pick me up. I was yelling, "No! No! I won't buy! I won't buy!" I couldn't think of the word for pay and buy came off the tip of my tongue. "No, I bought you! I bought you! I'm not buying him!" "yes, yes, yes." The man nodded his head and jump into his Marshrutka and drove off, much quicker than he had ever gone with me. So there I was in the middle of no where, literally. No cities, villages, or yurts for miles. Shivering in the cold of the fresh snow and wind of the mountains. Just praying that there would, for real, be a bus. Eventually, and there needs to be an understanding eventually...eventually... I was there for a very long time by myself. Again, the bus started out just fine and I was pretty happy and content and even became optimistic once again. That was beaten out of me. the bus broke down for a while and once they got it going they couldn't get the door to shut. I was sitting near the door. I sat there pressing my bad ear into my shoulder hoping I wouldn't get sick again, since my host mama doesn't like me going to these cold places where I can get sick. After about 45 minutes they did get the door to shut.I had told them to drop me off at the center of Cholpon Ata figuring I would be able to locate something from there, where Lydia could pick me up. We again broke down on the outskirts of the town. I sat there watching Little Man in Russian, being very patient knowing I couldn't change the situation by getting frustrated. Once it started back up they drove a little bit and told me this was the center. I had been to Cholpon Ata before, I didn't recognize anything. Mostly because there was nothing near mean to recognize. I said this isn't the center, they insisted this is where I was suppose to get off.I started walking and frantically texting Lydia to come and find me. After walking at a very quick pace, for 45 minutes I started to recognize stuff. Lydia kept sending me texts saying that there was no way I was dropped off at the center since she couldn't find me. A fact that I was very well aware of. I eventually saw a tall girl walk past in the shadows and took a chance and yelled, "Lydia!" Sure enough it was her. Thank you lord! She took me back to the cafe she and other volunteers were eating at and I tried to explain why I was so late and had missed half the party, through my chattering teeth.Doesn't it feel good to be alive...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another first

It is weird when another first in your life has come and gone. Last week a first I was terrified happened, I survived my first earthquake. It wasn't long, I think I was mostly freaked out because the "heater" and the lights went crazy. I kept yelling at my students, "What is this? Is this an Earthquake? OMG What do we do?" In English. When it stopped I got my act together enough to evacuate my students out of the building like I was suppose to and my students had fun acting out my terror for all the other students. Glad to ahve gotten that first out of the way but I don't want to do it again!

Monday, November 6, 2006


My group that I got sworn in with as a Peace Corps Volunteer has lost two volunteers since we have been sworn in. The first girl we lost 4 days after going to our permanent sites. She said that she would rather be in Indian than here. It is the wording of that that made us realize there was no way we could talk her out of it. She would rather be in INDIANA. If you ever say to yourself that you would rather be in Indiana then where ever you currently are, then leave, because you must be really unhappy. Our other girl we lost was medical. She can come back and we are all hoping and praying she gets healthy.I asked another volunteer if there would be any reason she would go home early and she replied, “Wendy’s Big Bacon Cheeseburger, Biggie Fires, and a Frosty” I started salivating… The thing is I have found lots of foods that I like here. My absolute favorite is Lagman. It is pasta with peppers, tomatoes, carrots, some green thing that I can’t remember its name. Oh, very tasty. The few times I have gone to a café it is what I order. There are also lost of different kinds of dumplings. My host mama has been making Lapsha a lot which is like chicken noodle soup. Put a little black pepper in it and you are in business. Pieroshki is always good it is fried bread with either potatoes, apples (if I’m around and helping cook), or pumpkin. If I’m rollin’ in Bishkek I might stop in and get a Gamburger. You would think it would be similar to a hamburger but it really isn’t. It is on a hamburger bun but then on top it has Gyro meat, mayo, ketchup, cucumbers, and cabbage. Overall there is lots of food to be had, although the other day we got some American Newspapers and in them were ads for Pizza Hut. I don’t even like Pizza Hut, but oh, how I pray sometimes that Kyrgyzstan will change its policies and let in American Restaurants. If they do I’m getting an Egg McMuffin, Jalapeño Poppers, and finishing with a Frosty.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Slumber Parties and Cowboys

This past weekend was my first time sleeping away from home. I like to say at this point in my second Childhood I am back up to college, but that isn't true. I'm up to middle school. I get picked on by high schoolers and I couldn't sleep I was so excited about a slumber party. Okay, so techinically it wasn't officially a slumber party, it was Program Travel. I got to go down to Koch Kor in Naryn, the "authentic Kyrgyz" part of the country. Koch Kor is up in the mountains and pretty spectacular. Although, it is extremely cold. My host Mama told me not to go down there becuase I would get sick, we'll get back to that. I went down there to help with some American Cowboys. A group of cowboys came from Wyoming doing a mountain to mountain exchange. They came to show horse tricks and share the culture of the American cowboy. Since I was going so far anyways I showed up a few days before the rodeo to hang out. I was so overwhelmed by getting to speak English that they couldn't get me to quiet down the first few nights. One night I stayed up talking all night to this girl Jill, also from Michigan... we actually played basketball against each other in High School. And another night with another volunteer Brandon. I say it was a slumber party because it had all the fixings: The staying up all night talking, rockin' out to Forgiener's Juke Box Hero, and playing pranks on the first person to fall asleep. We felt so grown up. One night we even got to sing Karoake. I did Sweet Dreams with Jill for three Kyrgyz men. And later that night I sang Beauty and Beast with another Voluneteer, Justin, to the only other person there, the bartender. She was very polite about it. The rodeo was interesting. They tried to have a buckin' Bronco but the horses here are much tamer so that did not work out very well. They also had a Kyrgyz translator for the cowboys. It proved very difficult to translate Wyomin' into Kyrgyz. At the end they were giving out prizes to the kids who had won some of the competition. They asked myself, Brandon, Justin, and Kay to work as blockers. This was not fun. We had to push kids back so they wouldn't steal all of the cowboy's stuff. I think we all got spit on. I had three luggies hawked on me. One hit my coat, another in my hair, and another one on the back of my neck. I was told by the end of it after being spit on so many times I seemed to enjoy pushing the kids back... This might be true. I keep having to remind myself I am a volunteer and I will do whatever, whenever I am asked to help. Although, now I'm thinking if working blocker for a cowboy is asked I'm going to try and talk someone else into it. Yesterday on the way back from Koch Kor I absolutely felt like death. I had gotten really sick while I was there. My mama likes to keep telling me how she was right. Driving through the mountains was painful on my congested head. I couldn't hear anything yesterday. Today, I have absolutely no voice. Today teaching class with no voice was interesting. We had been learning animals, so today we just colored the animals. Last night I had to sit with a tea kettle that had steaming water and Baking Soda in it and two blankets over my head. This was suppose to get my voice back but it didn't. I am resting up though because this weekend will be my first time hosting a slumber party. My host sister is getting married and my Mama is letting me have my friends Lydia and Brandon be guests at the wedding. I'm pretty jazzed. Once other vols found out that I was having guests to rock out at my sis's wedding they all started trying to invite themselves. I had to say no. I'm only being allowed these two guests becuase I promised my mama I would dance at the wedding if two of my friends can come. She thinks I don't dance enough.Alright I have to go take some nyquil and get 12 hours of sleep so hopefully I can say something in class tomorrow, or else we are doing more coloring.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

My Class..

I literally had to stand in front of the class today and scribble on a girls hand. She had written all the answers to the exam on her hand and it "wouldn't" wash off. These kids haven't figured out like Vicotria Danielsky and I figured out in high school Spanish, just copy off the smart kid. For me that was my sister. For them there are three different choices and they still come up with prehistoriac ways of cheating that I can spot easily. Now before exams we are going to ahve to do a hand check. I don't think they realize I don't like that anymore than they do.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

My Personal Soundtrack

My iPOD made the desicion to take it's own life, totally unprovoked. Sitting there on my desk not ten minutes before alive and active, and then when I came back... gone. I could do nothing to revive it. As of right now I'm ignoring the bone crushing depression that will come with a cold hard winter alone and no music. For right now I am focusing on the soundtrack of my life.Most days I like to go for long walks to see the beautiful countryside and to study my Russian. I make a little index card full of words I want to learn and try and memorize them. On my way out of town I always pass this one house that has music blaring. The other day the song "I come from a Land Down Under" or is it called "Down Under" see it is on my iPOD, if it was alive and ticking I could check what the official name is. Anyway, the song by Colin Hay, sung by Men at Work (I own both of Colin Hay's solo albums so I didn't have the Men at Work version I had the accustic version). It seemed wrong to have it blaring as I walked by. Then I had to realize it makes no more sense then when I would blast it in my room in East Lansing. Hell, I'm closer to Australia here then I was in Michigan. I tried to tell myself that it is more okay there, even though I have never been to Australia, because the song is in English. That same day when I came back from my walk "Lady in Red" was blaring. There was no arguement in my mind for that one, that was a weird song to hear here. Alot of English songs are constantly used in Ads on Television here. One song that is constantly being played is that WHAM! Christmas song. The other day I found my 7 year old host niece, who I taught to say, "shake your money maker" knows the words to it better than I do. She sat there singing ever so nicely, "Last Christmas I gave you might heart and the very next day you gave it away..." I was very impressed. But for her encore we went into a little James Brown. And dance party was started.They keep reminding us that this is a 24 slash 7 job(the always say slash). So when I see work to be done or anyone needing help I try to jump in and give a hand if I can. The other day a bunch of teenage girls were husking corn. I asked if I could help out and they said sure. For the next few hours we sat there and husked corn and sang any English song they knew. We started with Old McDonald. They didn't know what any of the aminal names were even though we made the animal sounds; because as I have found around the world animal noises, as imitated by people are not universal. But old McDonald quickly led into Michael Jackson, Britany Spears,and eventually Black eyed peas where we sang "shut up" and "Humps". I also was given the job of trying to explain what "Never, never, never goin' let you go" ment without being able to remember the word for never. I had to grab on to a girl and say, "never, never, never goin' let you go." Seemed to get the idea across. My hands were rubbed raw from husking corn, but my vocal cords were shot from a rousing round of "Oops, I did it again."In my class on Friday a student stood up and asked me what, "I'm going to F*** my B***h up right" ment. I told him to sit down and NEVER(I looked up the word when I got home) say that again. That it is very bad for someone his age to say that, or my age, for anyone as a matter of fact. I asked where he learned that and he said a Rap Song. Probably 50 Cent, they are obsessed with him here. The saddest part is I like Rap, but I realized I don't like the image of Americans they are sending out to the world. Last night I made a mean batch of Kettle Korn for my family. I sang if "Hammer Song" while I made it. You know.... "If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the mornin'..." You know! But as we sat there eating the POPcon(as my family calls it) they all liked to talk about how smart I was because I make a mean batch of Popcorn. Praising me because of my extensive knowledge of popcorn is not done enough. Actually, it was done only once before last night, when a friend of mine from college(Max) tricked me into making him popcorn on the stove. When I rocked it, he sat there talking about how great the popcorn was and my mad popcorn skills. Let's face it, I do have some mad skillzzzz

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Nothing is as it seems...

In Kyrgyzstan the words Leonade and Salad are used very loosely. My first time I had lemonade here I was like, ahhhh nice refreshing Pear juice. My teacher, the next day said I had drank lemonade. I argued with her, no I couldn't have it tasted like Pear. She told me that yes, it was lemonade. I responded with a confused so there were lemons in it? no.It was pear juice. Lemonade seems to be the term for any juice that they don't quite call juice. Then...salads. Salads here can be anything. tomatoes and cucumbers. Califlower. cabbage. meat. But I have yet to see one with lettuce. I tried to explain to Lydia and I's English club that in America Salads, have lettuce. The explaination didn't go over very well because the word for lettuce in Russian is... salad. That is a barrier in their learning that I don't think they will actually understand till they go to America order a salad and all that craziness I tried to explain will suddenly make sense.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006


My students and I link arms. We start walking down a path. Slowly the walk turns into a skip. Then eventually we pick up the pace and start running. All laughing, talking having a great time. We eventually reach a field where we start dancing around, totally free of a care in the world. Then pink bunnies with magical wands come in and join us. They wave their wands around my students and they magically speak English(kind of a mother willow in Pochantas..thing.) We all have a great time speaking fluent English, giggling, and there is defiantly cake. Isn't this what teaching is like?ISN'T IT?ISNTIT?It has to be like that.IT. HAS. TO. BE.IT! HAS! TO! BE!I mean this is what I was thinking teaching would be like. I started teaching today. I'm going to have revise how much I thought I could teach these kids in two years. The problem with all of our training is most of it focused on how to teach grammar. I have booklet after booklet about grammar. Me? I have to teach the alphabet, the SOUNDS of the alphabet, Greetings... maybe I'll get around to animals. I have abosolutely no base. Today I had only two classes. The 6a class was alright. Small, relatively well behaved.A couple students that actually wanna learn. I also had 3a. There were about 10 too many students for my amount of desks and chair(not too mention space) none of them see the benefit of learning English and have no desire to do so. So, me and a room full of eight year olds this was the majority of class.(translated from Russian to English for your benefit)SIT DOWN!NO! I said write it on the inside! No, now be quiet!Quiet!I can't read that!Your Fir... BE QUIET! FIRST NAME Than your... QUIET!!! Last name!!!no,no,no,no.justshutup (queitly said under my breathe in English)OKAY NO ONE GETS TO USE THE TIOLET!SIT! DOWN!QUIET!yeah... Defiantly going to have to approach that group a little differently than maybe my 6th form. Don't these kids understand teaching isn't easy and their bad behavior isn't helping any. I mean I'm sure I was a perfectly quiet student who sat there and understood everything the teacher said, because I paid attention when s/he spoke. I was helpful and quietly explained what to do to any of the children who might not have heard everything. I instantly knew everything the teacher said and responded to questions with a single hand raise. Yep, That was me as a student. My memory of that time period might be a little fuzzy, but I'm sure that is what I was like. I wouldn't want to cause any unnessary stress for the teacher. I was a perfect student. At least that is how I remember it.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Becoming Aware

I have come to realize that you are never more aware of how many cars drive down the street than when they keep interupting your soccer game.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Culturally Sensitive

The words for welding and Swastika in Russian sound suprisingly similiar. They are even next to each other in the Russian-English Dictionary. So if you live with a German family, in a German community, that has lets say a past. Do not shrivel up in Terror because you think your brother said he has a Swastika Exam the next day. If there is one thing they taught me in Training it is to be culturally senstive, no matter what. And I have to admit I might not have been when I thought my brother had a Swastika Exam, the horror on my face was evident and he had to reshow me in the dictionary. Oh, Welding... well welding is fine.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

so That's where I could get married

Recently, a lurking question that had been running through my mind had been answered for me. On my permenant site visit everyone kept telling me about when I get married in my village, and then when me and my LCF went to my village she also showed me where I could get married in the village. I didn't understand this obsession with me getting married. My permant site had a volunteer there a loooong time ago and she well.... you guessed it... Got married there! So of course me being an American volunteer would do the same thing! I went to a wedding there last night so now I know how it would role if I married a local. I would walk into the school holding a clothe with the best man and groom. Than We would be married in the auditorium. Some stuff is said we would sign the papers. Than our parents come up and give us advice and than the grandparents. Instead of jamming cake in each others mouths we would dip a piece of bread into some salt and feed it to each other. Then the food part is in the cfeteria of the school. It was pretty interesting. I kept trying to make it clear I ahve no intentions of getting married there. They said if I had a boyfriend back home that I needed to come here to get married that was still fine. I kept saying no.At the wedding I sat with the other staff memebers form the school. My favorite teacher was there. I am determined to make her my friend even though she has shown no interest in being my friend. She looks and acts just like Phylis Diller. Her voice is the same even!!! Just ya know speakin' Russian. She used to have the hair but she just got a haircut, still.... SHE WILL BE MY FRIEND! I like rollin' with the senior citizens. One of the teachers husbands is a former Soviet thrower. He kept trying to get me to do shots to join the throwing family together. Everyone was refusing to let me have wine in my shot class and sip it. They said it makes you loopy. Some how my sipping wine would be more damaging than doing full vodka shots! My director, aka my BOSS, was the one who had to talk them into excepting that sipping wine might be better. Overall it was alot of fun and good to socialize with the other teachers. I don't ahve other volunteers in my area so these are the people I need to mke friends with. And ya know it was good to see where I'll get married.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I'm a Real Volunteer

Well the day that seemed like it would never come, finally came. I and 58 other rag-tag Americans got sworn as Peace Corps Volunteers. I'm officially a PCV. Just thought I'd let you know. It's for real now. I'm out on my own and I gotta start doing some serious work.

Remember that one time we spent two hours chopping sheep butt fat?

I was standing there chopping sheep butt fat, listening to Lydia exclaim, "I'm such a carnivor. I love the smell of meat!", looking out this little rectangular window watching some men take out the guts of a freshly killed sheep. The blood still dripping, the hide just had been taken off, and the head head just been cut off. I was in the kitchen area with the women. A part of Muslim culture(or at least Balkar... I guess it is different by what kind of muslim and where your from etc. etc.) to have a feast and celebrate/morn the loss of a life 52 days after they have passed. Layla's farther-in-law had passed away 52 days ago. Layla is like a second mother to Lydia and I here. We study in her house and when we want to practice our Russian we go and have Chia with her. We offered to help with the preperations with the feast to show some kind of appreciation for her. We aren't actually helpful since we have no idea what should be happening so they gave us the most out of the way task they could. Chopping Sheep butt fat for the Monty. Monty is a really tasty dish here, they are steam dumplings, We chopped up about two sheeps butts worth. We both are pretty tall so our backs were killing both of us because all the counters here are very low. I loved being a part of it, even if I did just chop up butt fat, because I love the sisterhood of working in the kitchen. There were so many women running around taking care of business I got so caught up in my job. When I was done I went to the door and looked out on how the men were preparing. It all looked too much like National Geographic Photos, not my real life. It was cloudy, muddy, and cold. I asked the men if I could come out to their area and observe more closely when curiousity got the best of me. I got to look at the sheep that had just been gutted more closely, and examine the heart, lungs, stomach... all of it. I got to go and sit with two men as they carefully cut the intestines and scraped out the poo(I never would have even thought that that would need to be done). Then I went over and watched as the younger guys took a blow torch and burnt the faces of the sheeps and goat. They also did this too the legs. Then an even younger boy would scrape off the hair. Every part of the animals was being used.Later I got to go to a back room and help prepare monty with a few women. We were eventually told to go out and enjoy the food. It was so weird sitting in a huge room full of women singing muslim prayers in Balkar. The older women sang them from the heart, the younger women had books to refer too. This was the stuff I wanted to see and be apart of. Ten thousand miles from home I could find a community and a place, with barely any language skills and barely being able to chop the butt fat as small as they wanted.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Overcoming Myself

Let me tell you about a girl. A tall girl, from the midwest, who wanted to do some good in the world. She showed up at the airport in Philadelphia on a hot and steamy morning. She hadn't slept for about a week and had just said good-bye to all of her friends and family. She had more bags than the airlines allow, but after years of traveling(mostly on her own) she has figured out how to work the system to get more stuff on the plane. The girl thinks to herself do I really want to move 10,000 miles away from everything I'm used to. The more tired she became the less of a good idea this whole, "Peace Corps" thing started to sound.She has been instructed to go to the University Sheraton. She has no idea where the shuttle she is suppose to catch is. She goes out to the shuttle area. Her arms are tired from carrying her hundreds of bags(okay maybe about four) and her back hurts from here giant North Face Bag being stuffed to the brim. There is only one other person out in the shuttle area. He is 6' foot has glasses on, generally average looking except... the except is the key part... he looks completely dishevaled. His bags are all marked with a Heavy stickers. She suspects that he is also a part of her new life. The boy and the girl look at each other ackwardly. Both suspecting, but neither one saying anything. They nod. They girl decides she'll ask, after all he is at the Sheraton Shuttle port. But, wait... what if he is just going to a Sheraton, not her Sheraton. "Ya, Going to the University Sheraton?" she asks. "yeah."Hmmmmm... same hotel but I don't want to look weird asking if he is Peace Corps if he isn't she thinks. They stand there silently. A Sheraton Shuttle comes up. The boy runs up to the shuttle asking if it goes to the University Sheraton. It doesn't. The shuttle that the boy and girl need is on the other side of the airport. The girl too exhausted to go on, realizes that she needs to do something she has never done. She needs one of those Granny Carts to put her luggage on. She asks the boy, still not knowing his name or if he is with Peace Corps to wait with her luggage, she has to get a cart. He patiently waits, clearly tired himself. When he sees her come up with a cart he grows envouis. He thinks of how he wants a cart. The boy then decideds that since he had to wait with this mystery girl's luggage she could wait with his luggage.They roll off together to the other side of the airport desperately trying to figure out where their desired mode of transportation is waiting for them. Still, no names. Minimal communication as to who they are and what they are doing. They eventually find their shuttle they put their bags into the back of the shuttle and partways. The boy going to the very front seat, while the girl takes the very back seat. Age, name, where they are from, what their purpose of going to the University Sheraton has never been disscussed. The shuttle takes off when a cool hipster girl comes out pleading for it to stop. It does, she is that cool. The girl in the back seat turns and looks at the hipster girl whose luggage is being put in right behind her. She thinks maybe she is with me. The hipster smiles at the ackward girl in the back seat. The hipster recognizes her the girl. The hipster gets in the shuttle moves to the very back seat and sits next to the girl. "Your the whoopie cushion. I'm so excited to meet you. I saw those pics and thought that is a cool girl. I'm Chris." She extends her hand out."Hi, yeah, I'm the whoopie Cushion, my name is Carol. And to be fair I thought other people would put pics up." Carol is refering to a chat site that was set up for the K-14s, where she thinking other people might follow suit put up pictures of herself. One of the pictures of her in a whoopie cushion costume. They shake hands.Carol and her new hipster friend Chris sit in the back talking about the stress of moving everything where they went to college, where they are from, how excited they were. All the "need to know stuff". The boy sits in the front, silent. The shuttle stops at many different Sheratons. Each time the three of them try to get out and the driver has to tell them to get back in, they stopped to drop off someone else. Eventually, when it is just the three of them left he stops at one last Sheraton, their Sheraton. They grab all their luggage and go in they all say they are checking in for the Peace Corps, even the boy. He says his name is Brandon, Carol remembers it wanting to be able to greet him by name later. They all go up to their respected rooms to relax and unwind before having to meet 60 more new people. Later Brandon and Hipster Chris get in the elevator together. They stand ackwardly in silence. The boy decides to make conversation, "There sure are a lot of Sheratons in this town." That was it, that was his big line. It didn't get a response. He was done. Carol didn't speak to anyone til she got in line in the Sheraton's basement later and heard an accent she recognized. The boy in front of her was from Detroit. They were able to talk Tigers Baseball for the next twenty minutes. Her nerves were relaxed, she knew she had at least one person she could talk to for the next couple of years.This story if you haven't figured out was my intro into the Peace Corps. Ackward, shy, confused and in general questioning my every decision. I get sworn in in two days. I will be a real volunteer and another leg of my story starts. I will be moving to a village where no one speaks English, and my job is to teach them. Now when I yell out, "The Twins Suck!" I have no one to turn around and say, "Hey, they are gaining on the Tigers!" and for someone else to nod at me and give me an approving wink. I have already spent months trying to over come my own weirdness, or as Brandon says(we did eventually talk and become friends) "Quirkiness". I don't have the benefit of my native language this time, to talk my way out of the hole I almost always dig when I first meet someone. Now is when why I came is really going to happen. The challenge, the work, the survival... all of it is truely begining now. But, I still have the memories of standing there not talking to Brandon to remind me that I got alot to over come... mainly overcoming myself and the barriers I create in my mind.

Pizza Party

Last night I hosted a Pizza Party. Alctually I didn't do too much hosting I was slaving away outside in the summer kitchen. Last night we did our big thank you party for our host parents. We decided making them an American Meal would be good. So, Pizza and soda is what we went with. We ended up having to by vodka for the party too, it is after all Kyrgyzstan. They ended up also making plov(the national dish, which is rice and carrots and some meat)Our parents dove into the plov and were ignoring my Pizzas that I made until one of the other trainees showed how to pick it up and go about eating it. These weren't traditional Pizzas but if you ever visit me here I will make ya one. We went to the Bazar and got Nan bread. After that I did everything, I don't like sharing my cooking space if I have to explain what to do. I grated up Goat milk. Then I sliced up peppers and onions and sauteed them in Congac(can't remember how to spell it in English!) I sliced up tomatoes and put the tomatoes on then cheese the peppers and topped it off with fresh dill. They were very tasty and Lydia was working the oven and had perfect timing down on them. They weren't exactly what you would get in America, but last night watching people enjoy my pizzas, I have to say I was pretty proud of them.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I have never been fully immerised in learning a new language. I have never NEEDED to learn a language. I have traveled quite a bit and always picked up a few words from where I travel for fun, not for survival. I go to my permant site on Friday after being sworn in on Thursday. I'm pretty excited but I have to prepare myself, because NO ONE speaks English in my village. Not even my counterpart who is an English Teacher. They speak German and Russian. I got frustrated when I visited there before because I have a hard enough time understanding anything anyone says and when I was out there if they realized that I understood what they were saying about me they switched to German. No that isn't really fair! I'm working my ass(sorry mom) off to understand basic Russian and if I understand they switch it on me. We just finished our language tests. The other girl in ym village scored the highest of anyone ever has and I did, alright. If she hadn't set the bar so high I would have said I did well even. With all of our work we still make mistakes. It is this willingness to laugh at the mistakes that has made it so Lydia and I ahve gotten better than some other people. For instance: Just the other day Lydia looked terrified at her host father thinking he said that he was going to cook the dogs. When in reality he said he was cooking FOR the dogs. Lydia's family is still laughing about that one.Here you ahve to get creative when refusing booze, so when a woman asked me the other day if I would like a beer I said, "No, I don't like to drink when I shower." I was trying to say when it "rains". Rain and shower are very similiar words.The one I still get picked on happened a while ago. I was trying to use my new word of the day "always". I tried to tell Mama Saltanat that "The food she cooks is always delicous." The problem is I didn't think the sentence out before I started to say it, so I said, "Mama Saltanat is always Delicous." I knew what I said Lydia knew what I said and Mama Saltanat knew what I said. I hoped that if I didn't move or breathe no one would notice, but it was too late. So, I stuck with what I said and repeated it, "yes, Mama Salatanat is always Delicous."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Getting the unexpected

I have gotten many of something that I wasn't expecting to get here. With the weather getting colder they are all gone but I have gotten many a hot Dueche. WHOA WHOA!!!! Mind out of the gutter, not in front of my Mom. No a Dueche is Russian for shower. Don't worry it never stops being funny having my host mama chase me artound yelling at me that I need a Dueche.See here there are summer showers. What that is, is a bucket with a hole in it hooked up to some tubing. At the end of the tubing is a on off knob and a plastic shower head. The bucket sits on top of the barn and I take a shower right behind it. There are blankets seperating me from the back end of the cows and the chicken coupe on the other side. My family will put watewr in the bucket in the morning and it heats up through out the scolding hot days. So, normally I ahve to take a shower right at sunset to get the optimal amount of heat to really feel free of the dirt and livestock poo that has gotten all over me. Taking a hot shower has new joy for me hear. And it is extra nice taking it at sunset to one side I can see the sun going down and to the other side I can look and see the snow-capped mountains reflecting the red, orange, and yellows of the sunset. It is very relaxing having that view being naked and hearing the donkey going crazy just a blanket away from me.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Lowering your standars

The K-12s and K-13s keep telling us, that while we live here our standards will go down. My idea of fun defiantly have. I live in one of the training villages that is not a party village. We do however have a river. The other girl in the village and I like to stand in the river and drink cold coca-cola. This might not sound like fun but for us this is a ridiculously good time, and a good way to beat the heat. Dogs are attacking us all the time, here so Lydia and I like to take rocks and throw them at other rocks, target practice for the dogs. I don't have time to write anymore since no one is writing me letters, or emails or anything... other than my mom.... so I gotta go find some rocks to throw. I'm defiantly living it up here.

Monday, September 4, 2006

where is the weirdest place you have taken a shot of vodka?

Looking out over the snow capped mountains, holding a tomato in one hand and a vodka shot in the other I thought is this really what my life has come to? Oh, did I mention I was standing in a Russian Orthodox Cementary?We went on our permnant site visits this past week, and my first day I met a German Girl who was guesting at our house. Because my language skills aren't the best I was in the middle of cooking and then abruptly put into a car. I'm sure someone said we were getting in the car and going to the cemetary. The German girl was visiting because her sister had recently passed away and she wanted to see where she was buried.The cememtary is full of little tables, and I'm assuming it is a Russian thing to take shots in a cemetary. They pulled out a brand new bottle of vodka, tomatoes, and bread. See Russians don't do the Coca-Cola and juice chasers. It is normally some kind of vegtable, that day it was a tomato. Peace Corps trains us in all different types of situations where you will be forced to drink, the cemetary was never one of them. I couldn't turn it down being afraid that it would dishonor the dead. They first poured out the first shot poured it over her grave. Then we all took one, said a little prayer and took the shot. I have never been a shot taker myself so I didn't know if making a face would be bad so when I took it I popped my tomato into my mouth as fast as I could looked out over the sun setting behind the mountains and said another prayer.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

My mama spits on me every morming...

Every morning there is an arguement between me and my Mama, she wants me to iron my clothes. I don't want to. She always wins. The first time I ironed I was on the floor going at it with my mama telling me well done in Russian when she got up and got a cup of water. She swireled it around took in a big gulp and "SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSPPPPPPPPPPPPTTTTTTTTT"" She SPIT all over me and my Skirt! This happened many more times. I was soaked, my skirt was soaked and I was shell shocked.I told my Teacher about it later. I mean I was spit all over!!! She looked at me blankely. We stared. She replied, "Yeah, sometimes you have to dampen the clothes to get the wrinkles out.""I know, BUT SHE SPIT ON ME!!!""Yeah."No sympathy was going to be coming my way. I thought maybe it was a one time thing. I have now come to prepare myself. When I see my Mama get up to get a cup of water I brace myself and try to block as much as I can.I'm not just learning Russian and how to run a classroom or block spit here. I'm learning lots of cultural things. My Teacher is Uzbek and a really good Uzbek Dancer. The dancing includes alot of hand movements and a lot of Sass. She has been teaching myelf and the other Girl Trainee, Lydia, in my village how to do traditional Uzbek Dances. I have been repaying her for this by teaching her a traditional American dance I like to call the "The Farley". Mostly clipped pieces of Farley's Chip and Dale Dance. Lydia took a picture of me showing my teacher this dance. I don't want to say she looked shocked... I feel stunned is a better word.I have also been learning to cook. And how to go Guesting. Peace Corps asked us what we planned on doing if we ran out of sum with a few days left in the month. Lydia and I looked at each other and said, "Ya go Goosting." Goosting is more how you pronounce guesting, which is just visiting people...unannounced. See my mama, god bless her, is not a good cook. So I like to show up at other people's houses conviently around dinner time. You know just to chat. A meal will be on the table in no time. I entertain with my chut-chut poruski and they feed me. I feel it is all a fair trade. My mama has taught me to cook some things but I really want to learn how to make anything with Eggplant. Why had I never had Egg Plant? It is so good!!! Andrew's mom is Turkish so she said she would show me how to make some Eggplant dishes. I am pumped.Today was my first time out of the village in unrelated Peace Corps official business. Lydia and I got ourselves all the way out to another one of the Peace Corps villages and crashed a Bride Knapping. Not a real one but a staged one by some of the other Trainees so we could learn about the tradition of Bride Knapping. It was pretty classna(cool). Getting around on public Transportation and getting to see all that is involved, in the knapping. We showed up totally unannounced and luckily showed up at the exact right spot. They kept saying we were honored guests. I love this country we are honored guests just for crashing. No invite or anything. One girl said she was sure it was fine if we came but that was the closest we got. Sorry this is choppy and quick but I had to go through a German site to get here and it is taking all my sum to do this. Speaking of Germans....When I am in a group of Trainees I am automatically American. When it is just Lydia and I we are automatically German... Sometimes German Volleyball players. They will ask how to say something in German or if we speak German or where in Germany do we live. We aren't sure why people assume this but Lydia is even taller than me so we are going to assume it is a height thing. Well I get to go try to get home by myself because Lydia went to her little brother's concert. Fingers crossed you will hear form me again.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

We all knew it was a matter of time...

yep. yep. yep. You know me right? I'm assuming if you are bothering to read this ta you know me. so... yeah... How long did you think it would be before I got a trip to the hospital? A week? A month? Alright, we all know with my track record I couldn't go a moth in another country without a going to the hospital.You know what though, I did good. I mean I made it 3 weeks before I had to go. Over a week ago I got to go the hospital two days in row. The first day was for x-rays. The second day was to put my nose back into place.. yep. Broke the old schnoze, AGAIN! I need my Rip Hamilton mask back! One of you G-villers needs to call Doc Day and get him to mail it to me(You should have my address, and I am highly aticipating my fisrt package *wink*wink*)So, how did my nose get broken? Was it going Ninja on some Muggers ass?(sorry mom, but you don't like butt, buttocks, or even bottom so I figured go full throttle with the "a-word") No. No. No. Was it getting an elbow to the face from an old Babyshucka ass we fought for a space on a Marshutka(minibus)? No, but God I wish it was that! It happened at recess. See as a part of my second childhood I get recess time, and at recess we play with a frisbee. We were playing a game where one person throws the frisbee into the air and assigns it a point value and everyone scrabmles to get it... can you see why I wish there was a babyshucka involved? Anyway, with only a minute or two left of recess and *SNAP* Dan had jumped into the air and elbowed me in the face. I knew right away it was broken cuz when it happened I heard the snap. heard the gasp from on-lookers, and heard Mexican Matt(We need adjectives to tell people apart, see there is also Arryan Matt) yell, "It wasn't me!!!"I knew it was broken, but I tried to play it off as a bloody nose because I come from the Pam Bontekoe school of walk it off. IF YOU HAVE A PULSE, YOU WALK IT OFF. Also, I have done the broken nose thing enough not to worry about it because I always stay beautiful afterwards. Also, I didn't want to make a big deal of it because of Dan. Dan is seriously one of the nicest people I have ever met and I didn't want him to feel bad. To keep my nose from swelling they gave me a chilled sausage link. Another Trainee, Erin, and I laughed as I sat there with the sausage on my nose and the hars toilet paper(crete paper more like it) jammed up my nose.I put up a fight against getting the x-rays because I already knew it was broken and I didn't want them to have proof. It was cool getting the x-rays though cuz we didn't mess with that lead covering nonsense. Also, I knew I ahd metal in my jaw but they didn't. So it was fun to watch them tun around trying to figure out where it came from.The next day I got to go see a different hospital to see a nose specialist. Ididn't even know they had them. I tell ya, Soviet Efficiency, amazing. I din't look as messed up as everyone else there. I just had a lump on the side of my nose and a little blue under my eyes. I had the lump because normally when you break you nose it is sideways, but mine was up and out. I was being told this in Russian with a little bit of it being relayed back to me in English. Then all of a sudden she had me in a head lock and was using her two thumbs to push it back into place. I had my arms and legs flailing about and was getting ready to punch her when she let go.She did a good job, it all looks fine. So, two hospital visits down. Lord knows how many more to go!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

My Second Childhood

I remember when I graduated college I laughed at my friends that were still stuck in college. I laughed and declared my independence and was proving it by moving half way around the world. I apologize for my arrogance. For I am in full swing of my second childhood.I have a new Mama, Papa, a little bother and sister named Max and Aluna.This second childhood consists of me having to re-learn how to speak. MY parents will hav guests over and show off how I say suchimpressive words such as, "spoon", "Fork", "Table", "Chair", and if they really want to impress... "teapot". After saying these words everyone cheers and then goes about speaking about stuff they know I don't normally understand...usually me.Also, why this is my second childhood is when I am frustrated I ahve no way of telling anyone about it and my Mama feels it can be solved by having me eat more food. Or maybe I need to use the outhouse.On a night when I'm feeling lucky I might stay up past nine... but usually I'm out petty early. I did stay up till 10 the other day to watch Doctor Doolittle Dvah with my family. The guy ho dubbed Eddie Murphay was wonderful.I get walked to school and diectly picked up from school. When it was cold I was not allowed to leave without my coat. The best part of this second childhood is the fact that finally I get to be apart of the cool kids and have a packed lunch. Now, I wasn't the coolest of cool... no those kids mamas packed them Fanta or a tea cup. But I do get packed several had boiled eggs... that I can't peel, half a loaf of bread, half a chicken, and some tasteless cheese. I also, get a little treat of Kompot... Sour Cherry juice. But I get to sit there and tade for Potatoes or Tomatoes... maybe evn an eggplant or two. Then I sometimes sneak aay from class or just wait till after class and buy a Coca-Cola. Those firt few hits of the bottle let me know everything is going to be alright.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

So Far...

so far...
Well, I'm in Kyrgyzstan... finally! When I first arrived in Philadelphia I was able to spot other trainees in the airport because they all had the heavy sicker attached to their luggage, they looked desheveled, and like they just needed someone to tell them wehre to go. I was able to ride over to the airport with two other trainees Chris and Brandon. Everyone in the group is so accomplished people have traveled to amazing places and done some amazing stuff. The staging part in Philadelphia was mostly meetings and them telling us we need to be culturally sensitve and what not. It was two straight days of traveling from Philadelphia to Kyrgyzstan. Everyone eventually lost track of what day and time it was. ONe guy accidently didn't have a ticket to Bishkek so we eneded up leaving him in London! He is here now but is a whole day behind which at this point is a lot.When we got here they put us into two busses. They were awesome. They were total left overs from the Soviet Era. I loved them they had a T.V. on them with turn knobs and beige curtains and were painted red. And then the seats looked like the couches that everyone's Grandma's had. You knwo the orange ones they bought in the 70's and still have!Kyrgyzstan is so beautiful. Snow capped mountains and tons of Burch trees. But then there are tons of run down factories and eveything too. The mark of a former soviet country abandoned factories and tall ugly concrete buildings. One of the othr Trainees had the perfect way of describing it. Kyrgyzstan is a National Park meets an Industrial Park.I haven't eaten much because... well I'm going to have to suck it up and eat it once I get hungry enough. For our first breakfast they had this stuff that looks like Cottage Cheese but tastes and smells like bread. Also, there was frmented Mare's milk. I don't like Milk to begin with so that was challenging. Every meal includes about 5 coarses for lunch yesterday I was fine after soup and"salad"(The salad was 2 pieces of old lettuce any vegtable they could find and lots of meat fat). I figure there will come a point that I get so hungry I will eat anything.We have already had one language class. I got put into the russian group. It is cool because when I'm done I can travel to 15 countries without troubles if I can speak Russian, but it will be hardr to fit into the country because forgieners always speak Russian and they respect people who learn Kyrgyz more. I will be getting picked up by my Host Family soon. I have been desperately trying to remember the formal way of say hello so they don't think I'm stupid. But I pronounce it differently every time.strast-voo-tyahzdraz-tvoo-tyahzdrazt-voot-yahI need to learn... I am desperately trying!!!Hopefully they will like me and really help me learn the language.I did learn how to spell my name in Russian.кэролSo one step at a time!Well, I gotta go buy some flowers for my Mama.


My sister Diane and I went and spent a few days in the Great Tetons and in Yellowstone. We really wanted to go hiking but there aren't really anygood hiking trails at Yellowstone. So we decided to create our own trail. As we were walking there were all these signs saying.... NO!!! Turn around Dumbass! There are freakin' bears! I mean it, turn around now!!! Okay, those might not be the exact words but it was the genral idea of the signs. I have since found out that when dealing with bears you are suppose to be loud. Diane and I didn't know this so we proceeded past the signs, but made sure to be very quite once we got past the signs. Then Diane dead serious said to me, "As long as we leave the honey alone we should be alright." I turned and looked at her and replied, "What kind of bears do you think we are dealing with, Winnie-the-Pooh?" "Ah, Carol it's like proven that Bears like honey. Who doesn't like honey?""I would be more worried about the bees if I went after honey than I would be the the bears." "Oh, the bears would get ya."We kept on our hike tip-toeing so as not to piss off the bears and we left the honey alone, that is the only reason I can write and tell you this. so,LEAVE THE HONEY ALONE!!!!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I haven't even started packing! Apparently this is something that most people who are moving away for a few yeas don't wait till the last minute to do. I'm still working on packing up all my stuff from MSU. I'm getting really excited but these last days with friends and family is getting difficult just ebcause I know I should be packing but I would rather sit and chit chat--- or write in this Blog.... alright I gotta pack! stop distracting me!

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Is it a normal reaction when someone gives you a hug to pull away and go "asshole!"? I feel like it isn't. Yet, that was my response earlier today when I got a hug. I think I might have some issues to work out.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Duck Gang Bang

I need to explain MSU right now. We have this river that runs through campus that pretty much seperates old campus and new campus. It is a nasty, nasty river called the Red Cedar. I guess the river used to freeze over and that is where our hockey team would play. With Global Warming and all it, never really freezes over. So the Ducks never really feel the need to do that Migrate to the south thing I'm assuming they used to do. So there is a freakish amount of ducks around here, and ducks that aren't afraid of people at all. I will lock eyes with them and they can sense that I'm afraid of birds and just trying to put on a brave front, and I can tell they do. not. fear. me.So anyways after running for my life from the ducks today I remember one time a couple summers ago when I was walking along the Red Cedar and saw a duck Gang Bang. Seriously it was a gang bang! There were three bright and colorful boy ducks who kept circling the poor brown girl duckand would push her down and do the giggity giggity giggity. And then get off, circle her again and another one would do it. Me and about 4 or 5 other people were standing there watchingit, all kind of looking at each other to see if we should do something. None of us did of course. I ended up having to go to class. But anytime people think I'm weird for being afraid of the ducks I give them a look that lets them know I have seen the horror of ducks' dark souls.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Random thoughts on God

This might seem random but I have been thinking about God a LOT lately. Trying to take that God that is out there and put him here. I get that God is always here, he is light, he is music… blah, blah, blah. But I just don’t know. Like that idea of Fate. To me that seems where I can get the most glimpse of God… or actually let me rephrase that I feel like God is in the randomness of life. Anyone get what I’m saying? You know that stuff you can’t explain. Like two people can end up across the hall from each other in the dorms and end up falling in love. Well, what if they hadn’t ended up across the hall or even on the same floor or maybe even in the same dorm or university at all. How random or “lucky” was it that they ended up across the hall from one another.
You can last minute decide to go to dinner with friends and someone else whom you never met might go to that dinner too and be looking to hire someone exactly like you. You end up getting a job from that dinner that leads to a career you love but never would have decided to go into if it weren’t for that night. Is that how God reveals himself to us, through the Crazy shit we can’t explain? People say I get too excited over random coincidences, but heck why not?!!! What if those random coincidences are God trying to show us something? He left us with Free Will but that doesn’t mean he can’t nudge us along torwards the life he set out for us. I guess the next time I’m about to udder the phrase, “dang that was random,” I might step back from a moment look up to the sky and go, “Dude… God… What are you trying to tell me?!”