Thursday, September 10, 2009

Samimeytesbea... Mening Atmin Noelle

Monday, September 7
So I’m not sure on exactly how blogging works, but I’m going to give it my best shot while I’m here in the Kaz. To begin I’ll introduce myself and the situation. This is now my 3rd week being overseas with the Peace Corps. Technically, I am an Education Trainee in a small village outside Almaty, until I am sworn in as an official volunteer on October 31. There are 64 (I think now) Kaz-21s here now in my group. There are education, community development, and business advising volunteers - the vast majority being education. Education volunteers are then split up a couple more times into University teaching volunteers and secondary education volunteers. Then the secondary volunteers are split again into Russian learning and Kazakh learning. Each sub-group is split into groups of 5-9ish trainees - then each group was put into different villages in the Almaty area. In the village I live in, there are 6 Russian learning education trainees and 6 Kazakh learning education trainees.
I am a Kazakh focused-secondary education trainee. Right now, my job is to learn how to be a teacher... and learn Kazakh, which is far easier said than done! Kazakh is a Turkic language based on the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet. It has the 33 Russian alphabet letters, plus 9 Kazakh specific letters. This language sounds like you just say the same sounds over and over again - which you sort of do. Everything matches and agrees in this language (if that makes sense). You say the subject at the beginning of the sentence then repeat it at the end. Reading Kazakh is also difficult - at a distance it just looks like squares lol. But then it also looks like there are a lot of similar letters to English... this is a trap! Actually, I think the most difficult part is pronouncing things. There are 9 Kazakh vowels (13 if you count the Russian vowels) each sounding slightly different from the other (three variations of “Y”). I was so frustrated when I began learning... everything just sounded like gargling... But we have a great teacher, Aigul, she is so cute and very patient. The language classes can be downers sometimes... but then we have a culture/technical class once a week too. People here work 6 days a week. Sundays are “Holiday”. So we are in class from around 8 30-4 30 for 5 days a week (super long days). Even with our one day off, usually something is planned for us to do then too. It’s hard to find down time here. But keeping busy helps me from getting homesick.
We are all living with families now. I live in the same little neighborhood as 3 other Kazakh-learning trainees. It’s nice to be so close to other Americans. We live in the nicer part of the village (almost like the suburbs). Even being in a little bit of a nicer area doesn’t really say much... electricity and hot water still come and go as they please. The bathroom facilities are nothing special either (to say the least)... By nothing special I mean nothing. A hole. Toilet paper if you bring it yourself... Yeah. Anyways, I have host parents and a host brother, Ablai (10), and a host sister, Aziza (18). They have really helped with adjusting! Every couple hours between meals we have chai, or tea. Having tea takes about an hour. My bladder still isn’t used to this heavy liquid diet. And I can say that I have never appreciated the feeling of not having to “go” more than I do now! Back to meals... Meals are also always eaten together. Meat, bread, and salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, and mayo) are always on the table. For a girl that doesn’t eat beef (or typically red meat in general) I have had my fair share these past weeks... probably more than I have eaten in my lifetime. I promised I wouldn’t make food an issue for myself, and I have been trying hard to make that a reality. Meat isn’t cleaned the way it is in the US here. It is swimming in fat. This wasn’t a big deal until the past couple of days. It has just seemed to worsen for some reason lately. I tend to feed my lunch meat to the cute stray dogs we pass on our walk to school.
Well, my homework is done and I’m pretty tired. I still need to write in my journal. I was so happy to have just received a call from home! Skype worked! Man, I miss my family. ...But it seems like everything is still moving the same way I left it. No huge surprises - not saying there won’t be any... It was so nice to hear from them!

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear from you and happy things are going OK. I am sure it was a culture shock for you, but very impressed with you taking this challenge in life. We are very proud of you. This is the first time I have ever Blogged!!! WOW I guess I am HIP!! Haha, at least that is what I tell Lucas & Hope. You will learn some great lessons in life while over there and try not to forget them when you come back and have so many things here. We tend to take so many things for granted that many others are not fortunate to see. I will try to stay HIP and keep blogging, but I don’t get on the computer often. Take care Noelle and KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, we are proud of you. The HIP Uncle John