So I am now officially a Peace Corps Volunteer. The swearing in ceremony took place on Tuesday afternoon following a not so fun two days of boring seminars and other bureaucratic BS. The ceremony itself was nothing special and to be honest, it didn't hold much meaning for me. I am pleased to be finished with the training portion of my Peace Corps service and very excited to be moving on to(actually already in) my new home, but the actual pomp and circumstance of it all is lost on me. We're not here to gloat about our accomplishments...we're here to make an impact on the lives of those we come in contact with and to do it with humility. Still...it feels good to have 3 hours of language classes and all of the other training behind me.
I received the results of my language interview a few days past and to my (and others) complete amazment I placed somewhere near the top of all of those who came into their service without prior langauge training. I scored an intermediate high on the scale and must say that I am pretty proud of myself. I may not be able to regurgitate sentences in a classroom setting, but when pressed to use my langauge in real world applicable situations I get the job done. This has definitely been evident in the past few days. I met with my counterpart from my new home (she is a Russian teacher at the school where I will be working and acts as both a friend and a liason between myself and the director) and found that she speaks ZERO english. I am one of the very, very few volunteers in this situation as most of their counterparts can at least make small talk in English, but so far we have had little trouble communicating. In fact, now that I am over my initial fear of being unable to fall back on English I am really happy because I know that my Russian will improve dramatically over these next two years.
As for the village itself...I would say small and quaint would nicely describe it. At the moment we are without running water and will be for the remainder of the summer and the gas isn't working currently either. While showering has been a chore and cooking as well, I really feel like I am getting the full Peace Corps experience for the first time. I didn't realize just how spoiled I was living in my training site in such a posh apartment with every ammenity I was accustomed to having as an American. Now I have to walk out to the spicket (sp?) to fetch water, sometimes having to wait in a line of 10+ people...and I have what seems like thousands of chickens running wild in my front yard. WHile very different from everything I have ever known I think I am already adjusting well and looking forward to the next two years.
I already have begun to work at the school (currently using the internet here) and feel really welcomed by all the teachers here. We have been able to communicate in Russian and some English and so far I haven't encountered any of the dirty looks or harsh words I was told that I might. The school itself seems to be in good condition and has an adjacent stadium where I can run and exercise. It will take some time for me to feel as comfortable here as I did in Nizhyn, but these first 24 hours have gone just about as well as I could have hoped for.
For those of you who looked up Crimea on the internet and saw pictures of palm trees, beautiful beaches and mountains just know that the Northern part of the peninsula where I live is nothing like that. It is very flat here and reminiscent parts of texas. That being said, I am still very lucky to be living here and will make sure to get down to the beautiful South of Crimea as often as possible. I am also lucky to have another cool volunteer serving less than 10 miles away from me and a good friend only 40 minutes away by train.
Nothing else too new or exciting to report. I will hopefully have a mailing address sometime soon for those of you who want to write me or send me care packages...hint hint. I also will be keeping the same cell phone number...011-38-063-140-9289...so feel free to drop me a line...but if you're poor like me I won't be offended it you don't. More than likely I will be able to write more here than I was able to previously but I am not sure how often I will be allowed into the school over the summer months...we'll see. Miss you and love you all and look forward to catching up with everyone in the coming weeks and months.
ps..Sorry I missed your calls yesterday Sheru, I was out exploring and forgot to bring my phone. Try me back when you can...