Wednesday, February 4, 2009

This is the Osh Crew at our training in Bishkek. 

Aren't the mountains pretty? These are on the way to Jalalabad from Osh. 

Some of the women at out first women seminar series. 

Yesterday Becky and I played basketball with a couple of students from OshTU (Technological University). It may have been the most fun I’ve ever had playing basketball. There was only one other girl playing and the rest were 18 year old boys. They kept calling Becky Julia so I had to take a time out to play the name game. We also had to take a time out about 15 minutes in to explain the rules. One girl was in charge of the whistle, which I just think she liked blowing it because a person was about to take a shot, whistle. A person was throwing the ball, whistle. It was one of the most ridiculous games I’ve ever played, but I forgot how fun basketball was. By the way, the basketball we played with was a Minnesota Timberwolves one. No idea how they got that.

Friday is our seminar: Women’s Health. We have someone speaking about sexual health including HIV/AIDS, mental health, nutrition and some more issues pertaining to women and health. This will be our final seminar in the series so we have gotten certificates for the women attending. I think our seminars were a success but we also made surveys to see what the women would like next year.

We finally got snow last night. At first it was rain because it was too warm but eventually we got some snow. It doesn’t even cover the ground, but thank goodness we finally got some again. I didn’t know what I was going to with a snowless winter. I’ve never had one! But that means the bazaar will be gross because everything is melting…I suppose I don’t need to go shopping.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

My host grandma did pass away last week. Everyone had gone to the
village and I was left in the dark. I didn't know the traditions around a funeral or if it was just like an American funeral. Well, it wasn’t. There is a forty-day mourning period. Sometimes they stay in the village the whole time, sometimes they don't. My dad is staying with all of his sisters and brothers. He had 11 other siblings’ and they all came back for this occasion. Every week there is a day where
they have guests at the house to show appreciation for my host grandma
and her life. I thought that this was interesting because my host
cousin asks how many days do american mourn a death. I said it depends
on the person but we only usually have two days, a wake and a funeral.
She was shocked. My host mom came home to check on the house. So did
my host sister and dad. They walked in at different times but they all
gave me a hug, buried their head in my shoulder and cried. All I could
do was hug them back, as my language skills are not that great. Then
we walked in to the room where my host grandma last was and we said a
prayer, no one really making it through it without sniffles or tears.
It was one of the worst moments I have had because I felt their pain
but had no way to express to them how sorry I felt. I didn't really
know her, but since my host family was in pain, I felt pain, too. 

It's been a pretty somber last couple of days, but I've really gained appreciation for my host family. My host mom, Becky, and I planned a seminar that she wasn't able to make it too but she wanted to know all about it and what she could do to help. During the prayer about my
host grandma, which was in Kyrgyz, she took the time to translate everything to Russian for me so I knew what was going on.

Yesterday, Becky and I went to go make certificates for the Women’s Seminar we have been holding. While the certificates were printing and
we were waiting patiently, a guy that works their picks it up (about 8
feet away from us) and starts making fun of it and laughing! Becky whispers to me, 'so funny a women's conference' and I just don’t whisper, but I do one of those 'so funny, but not really' laughs loud enough for him to realize we heard him and understood him. He turns around; face goes white and puts the certificate down mortified. ha!
I'm getting sassy in my old age.

The weather here has been amazing! Yesterday it was probably about 55
degrees. I didn't know what to do with myself! People are still wearing coats and snow boots (there is no snow), and I'll wear a
hoodie sweatshirt. People on the street, perfect strangers, will look at me and ask if I’m cold. I raise my hands and say this is great weather! I think they think I should be locked up!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Back to Bishkek

Sorry I haven’t posted much lately I've gotten quite busy

Last week I was in Bishkek with Peace Corps for a Counterpart Training. It was all week from 8 am to 6-ish. I was exhausted! I don't remember working that hard since PST. We did a lot of team (PCV and Counterpart) building, but mostly I was excited to see all of the people that I had left behind when I went to Osh. I hadn't seen anybody really except for the people living in the oblast. We caught up every night, which made the day more exhausting.

 After Bishkek, I got home to a full house. My host grandma was staying with us because she isn't doing very well and needs to be in the city to be watched over by a doctor. It was very upsetting coming home to what finally felt like my own and see everyone in dismay. My host mom and dad are very sad and are trying to deal with this and everyone at our house. Today (Saturday) they went to another village, Uzgen, where my grandma is from so she could see her husband, for what my host mom says, the last time.

 On Wednesday, I went to Jalalabad. A town about two hours away to see a Women's NGO named Women Leaders of Jalalabad. It was nice to get out of the town. We took a taxi there so it was just like a road trip. On the way there is a Ferris wheel, which is amazing. But also, I couldn't tell you the times we stopped because some type of livestock was crossing the road. I guess it wasn't exactly like an American Road trip. Oh well.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year!

Well, it nothing like I’ve seen before. For most of the day I spent it with my family. We exchanged presents. I got a brooch from my host mom and my host sister gave me some dangly earrings. I also got a card. You aren’t going to believe this, they gave me the very best: Hallmark. You can buy Russian Hallmark cards in Bishkek. I was totally surprised. Around 5 my host mom brought in a turkey. Don’t worry it was de-feathered already. But she didn’t know how to cook it in her new oven so the vegetarian had to cook a turkey. We had champagne and a turkey dinner; I mostly at pickles.

I stayed with my host family until about 11:30 and watched a Russian New Year’s concert on TV. We also are right next to where the celebration was held so we walked down to see it for a little bit. They had dancers and singers. They must have been freezing, but it was just like Independence Day where they had about 100-200 dancers in sync to some American Christmas song like jingle bells. I don’t even know the words, but the crowd knew it. Then, my host sister and I left the family. I met Becky and Matt at Lenin Square to see the Grand finale of fireworks. I had just assumed that at midnight everyone would be there and someone would be controlling the final bits of the firework show. WRONG. Instead, workers had set up booths around the square to sell fireworks. People could buy any firework they wanted and shoot it off themselves. There was no orchestrated show. People would mostly shoot them up in the air, but some were ground fireworks so they would just put ‘em in the middle of a crowd, light it and run. Scary. There were several close calls of my face burning off or losing a limb, but don’t worry I’m alive. The ‘show’ lasted for about an hour. It was people just running around, drinking and shooting off fireworks. We stayed on the edge near a park in case we had to run for cover.

I came home around 2 o’clock and my host parents were still up celebrating! It was the New Year and we needed to celebrate. Fireworks went on for a long time after I had settled in to bed. I felt like an old lady going to bed with all that partying still left to do, but I also wanted to be intact.

I don’t know how many people were at the Square but it was a lot and there were a lot of fireworks to be had. There also wasn’t only celebration there, but as you looked across from the square and up to the sky, you could see fireworks throughout the whole city. It was like a liberation or we had just won a war because everyone was so happy and the whole city was in harmony celebrating the New Year.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

This is Everyone at Christmas.

Christmas Eve Night, Becky and Ian just wanted some Burger King (Check the sign in the right corner).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008