Hello and welcome to my Blog! I plan to use this site as a way for you and me to stay connected for the upcoming 9 months. I hope I keep you entertained and informed! By the way: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not represent those of the Peace Corps and/or the United States Government.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday time

It’s nearing the end of November already, which means a few different things in my life. First of all, Thanksgiving is over which marks my second Thanksgiving here and my first Thanksgiving that I’ve taken on the task of cooking. It was a great day spent with new and old friends. Granted I wasn’t with my family in the states for the holiday, but my friends here have become somewhat of a family for me and I couldn’t have asked for anything more out of the day. Second, we’re now entering ‘Christmas time’, which is one of my favorite times of the year. The people in my life, snow, the spirit, the music, and the celebrations all make this time of year important and meaningful to me. Finally, I now only have eleven months left here. It feels like just a few weeks ago I was getting on the plane to come here, and now I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been one of the most challenging yet rewarding years of my life. I can honestly say I don’t think I have grown, experienced and/or felt so much as I have in the past 14 months in comparison with any other time in my life.
The things that are consuming my life now are issues concerning my work here, my purpose and what I want to do in the future. I’m reaching a fork in the road where one path takes me back home to the states to pursue a career there and the other takes me somewhere I’m unsure of now but revolves around sacrificing a career at home and leading a life abroad indefinitely. Selfish thoughts pull me home while ideas of what ‘could be’ and how I may be able to make an affect in other people’s lives sway my decision towards staying abroad.
Amazing things have been happening back home. My cousin, Charlie, has married a brilliant and wonderful woman. My sister is becoming a beautiful young woman. My elder brother and sister are leading successful careers and paving the way quite well. My parents, all of them, are settling into their lives and becoming great friends to me on top of their roles as parents. I feel so blessed to have them, and the rest of my family and friends back home, all in my life in all of the caring and quirky ways they affect me.
Overall, life is good – no, great – right now. It’s not always easy, but I think easy is boring, so I’m thankful for the challenge. Also, I wouldn’t trade the discussions of James Bond’s sexuality, kitty massage, Superman, and all of the other random ramblings for anything.
Thanks to everyone who has entered my life in the past year and to those who have supported me and joined me throughout it all, I appreciate you all more than words can express. Here’s to eleven more months!

I love you all!

Annie
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

Sunday, October 08, 2006

So, Molly is Ralph



Hello there again! I know it's been a while, but I've been in the middle of a lot of work and moving in to a new apartment.
Life is busy here lately and I can't complain. I've got a rather full schedule and I'm getting ready for the winter months to start creeping back in. I'm working at my NGO in the mornings and teaching Monday-Thursday from 4:00-7:00. I will also be teaching on Saturdays as of this week. During the evenings I'm finding time to study for my GRE's, which I'll be taking next month in Kazakhstan, and with Ralph and friends. That's right, it turns out Molly isn't Molly, she's a he and now it's Ralph. I'm guessing he's about two months old now and he's quickly becoming one of my favorite things here.
The pitures I posted are of my good friend Rick and me and of Ralph asleep on a pair of my slippers.
Today, I'm off to the bazaar to get food for the week - vegetables, spices, bread,

pasta, etc. Then I'm headed back home for some rest before the work week begins again. I'm fighting a pretty terrible cold (sore throat and the works) lately, so I'm trying to get better before it gets worse...if that makes sense.

I've got to get going now. I'll write more soon!

I love you and miss you all!

Annie

Monday, September 25, 2006

A New Addition (pictures to come)

September 25, 2006

Alo again!
It's been a while since I've updated and I apologize. Life has been passing me by rather quickly and I haven't found the time to sit down and check in.
Work is going well here. My NGO is progressing along and my work at American University is becoming a highlight in my weeks. I also have a couple of English clubs each week that prove to be entertaining and effective. The clubs are full of people of all ages, two of my favorite students being a middle-aged classical musician and dentist. The two of them are never absent and full of banter for the class.
I have a new addition in my apartment. Her name is Molly and she's a little kitten that's now reigning over my home. She's about six weeks old and loves attention. She cries when I'm home and not holding her. She also nestles herself right up next to me when I sleep. I now have problems sleeping if she's not near me. She is also very good at keeping the cockroaches and moths away from me. I have a serious fear of moths (I know, that's ridiculous, but we can't control what we're afraid of) and whenever I see one I'll put her on the prowl and within minutes it becomes a non-issue. As far as the cockroaches go: there aren't many around, although I did see one of the biggest ones I've ever seen in my apartment last night. I have no idea where he came from, but little Miss Molly was on top of it!
I've got to get going now.

I love you and miss you all!

Annie


September 18, 2006

It's been one year here. One year ago I was spending my last night in Philadelphia and the states. I was full of emotions Icouldn't really even grasp. I was scared, excited, anxious, worried, happy, sad, etc. And here I am. One year later. A year older. A year wiser. A year away. I've learned so much. None of the things I learned came without challenge, but all of them came at just the right time and in just the right way although I questioned some of it at the time.
I feel like I was just there, living my life in Colorado and thinking of leaving. Now, I'm here with so much behind me and still so much to look forward to. I remember meeting my host family for the first time. Going to sleep in my new bed for the first time. Eating breakfast in the summer kitchen. Walking to class. Meeting friends and people that have become great influences on my life. I remember questioning everything, being homesick, and wondering what was going on in my old life. I remember missing friends, family, coworkers, sorority sisters, and mentors. I remember feeling like I would never really be at home here.
Now, I'm at home. I'm writing this on my couch at my apartment in my city that's now my home. I do want to go home sometimes. I know how easy life can be there. But, I'm not done yet. I still have a little more to learn here, a little more to do, a little more to see.
It's never really easy here, but why live an easy life? If it's not a test, why challenge yourself to do it?
I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss the ease of the states. But seeing the people here, seeing how spending an hour here or there makes a difference in people's lives that they never would have expected, it makes it worth it. We're supposed to live for other people, right? Well, here goes 15 more months, then I'll live for myself again, maybe.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Guesting and Independence Day


















A good guesting and a Saturday fit as well together as peas and carrots. I headed out to my friend Rick's village to join him and his family and Charlie (who came for the day). I haven't had the pleasure of enjoying a good ol' village guesting for a while now, so I was more than happy to be part of the festivities. There were several rounds of food, toasts being given and presents exchanged. It was my first time getting back into the Kyrgyz fare after the bad lagman a few weeks back and it was a pleasant welcome back. We had a few salads, borsok (Kyrgyz bread), mante, cake, jams, lagman (not fried) and chai. It was a great celebration...Happy Birthday, Rick.
Last week, on Thursday, Kyrgyzstan celebrated Independence Day. The streets were packed with people watching a parade move it's way down Chui (one of the main streets here). It was pretty impressive to see all of the people out and in traditional Kyrgyz wear.
The evening of Independence Day there was an
impressive firework display. The display was perhaps the loudest display I've ever witnessed. My entire apartment was rattling throughout the 20-30 minute blow out and it looked like the explosions were going to fall down onto the building and cause some problems. Car alarms were going off throughout the city as well. I guess that's what you get when China is right next door and a celebration calls for fireworks.
Today is Labor Day. I'm headed to American University to get lined up to begin teaching classes on Wednesday. After that I have to head home to get ready for a presentation I'm giving on Thursday. Then I'll start the list of other daily errands I need to run. Basically, it's a typical busy week here. But as I've always believed, being busy is better than being bored.
That's all for now. I love you and miss you!

Annie
















Thursday, August 31, 2006

A trip to the 'Dirty South'


I decided I finally had it with a few select Volunteers telling me that the south is better. Being from the north, and admitting that I am biased because of that fact, I found it hard to believe that this place on the other side of a mountain range, only reachable by a 12-14 hour cab drive or an hour flight, was better than the city I presently call home.

I bought a ticket and finally flew down this past weekend to see the south, Osh to be exact, thawed out and in its prime during the summer time. The shashleek was good, the Academia beer was flowing and cheap, and the people were friendly. Osh doesn't have the city feel that Bishkek does, although the citizens of this southern city are proud to boast that Osh is some 3,000 years old. I don't exactly know how that was figured, or where this fact can be verified, but I soon came to realize that a lot of the hype in Osh comes out of legend and stories past down through generations. These legends and stories are trusted, never questioned, and part of common knowledge down in the south.

We climbed the mountain that rises up from the center of the city. The name of the mountain is Suilayman Mountain. The legend says that Solomon once sat upon this mountain and prayed. Another legend states that Mohammed also prayed atop this same mountain. Whether or not either of these legends carries any truth to them, just keeping them in mind when climbing up and taking in the view does add a little dreaminess to the whole experience.

There is also a ‘fertility slide’ at the top of the mountain. It’s become tradition that when you climb this mountain you have to go down the fertility slide three times, or five, or seven…and so on. An old babushka we met at the top reiterated these facts and the next thing you know I was scrambling around getting my three slides in. At my young age I don’t feel it’s necessary to worry to much about the whole fertility slide yet, but it was part of the whole ‘climbing the mountain experience’, so I figured: why not?

During my visit I also got a chance to stroll through the bazaar. The bazaar isn’t as busy or as overwhelming as the bazaars up north, but the locals are also happy to tell you that it is the oldest in Central Asia. The people working at the bazaar were very friendly which made for some easy friend making. The picture with the woman surrounded by cabbages was one of my favorite taken during the weekend. She and her friends sat in what looked like a small parking lot filled with cabbages and women with cabbage leaves on their heads enjoying the daily camaraderie. I got her to sit still for a minute to take a picture, I then showed her the picture on my camera and she had a hard time hiding her excitement. We got quite the kick out of her. As I was turning to leave she called me back to give me a free cabbage to take with me. Another woman we spoke to let us take her picture and gave us a huge smile, which she quickly covered up with her handkerchief, when we showed her what it looked like. She was a sweetheart and pretty entertaining.

There are a lot of great things about Osh and I did have a good time. Although I must admit, when we landed in Bishkek I couldn’t have been happier. I do like the south, it’s a bit cheaper, a little more conservative, and the people are friendly, but when it comes down to it: Bishkek is the best…and I think we all know that! ;~) But cheers anyways and thanks to Osh for the good times!

Love,
Annie


So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life." - 1 Kings 3:11-14














Monday, August 21, 2006

I guess I shouldn't have eaten that...

August 20, 2006

Hello again! It’s Sunday night and the end of another weekend over here. I had high hopes for the weekend: some quality guesting followed by a dip in the hot springs. Although, the fried lagman (a traditional Kyrgyz dish consisting of long noodles, sheep meat, onions, peppers and whatever else may be laying around in the kitchen) I ate at the café next to my apartment on Thursday night had something else to say about it.
I woke up Friday and cancelled all my plans as I ended up having a weekend long jogging date, between the bedroom and the oh-so-welcoming bathroom. There’s nothing that will make one more ill than having to get sick in a toilet here. Then again, it’s a step up from some of the outhouses or pits here that other Volunteers use in their villages, so I can’t complain too much.
Tomorrow, I tutor a student at 9:00 a.m. at my NGO, then will work on translating the document that serves as the report for the first term of a grant that Sezim has received. After work, I’m headed to American University with a friend to perhaps pick up some clubs. Then, I’m back to the normal evening schedule of a workout and reading. I’m also holding two clubs on Wednesday and Thursday nights a few blocks from my house which I’m hoping bring some good students and conversations.
This weekend along with being ill I also got the time to finish two Grisham books (The Summons and The Broker) and The Purpose Driven Life (it took a few more than 40 days…oops). Now, I’m back to my ‘Your Daily Walk’, as I’m hoping to finish the Bible in the next six-seven months; I’m currently in 1 Kings.
Okay, that’s the update on my somewhat low-key life, these days. I’ll let you all know when something comes up!

Love,
Annie

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
- Proverbs 19:21

P.S. C Belle, we miss you. ‘Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?’

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Another Week!

Hello again! I hope all is well with everyone on the flip side. I'm just moving through another week here. My counterpart, Chinara, is on vacation right now. Therefore I've been working a lot with my pseudo counterpart, Vicka (who's son I just began tutoring last week). We've got a few projects in the works. One will occur this winter with a group of seminars occurring in local universities and a nearby village. These seminars will focus on educating men and women on issues centered around domestic violence and will also convey the services we provide at Sezim. The other project will be a bigger ordeal, and that is finding funding for future expenses at Sezim after next year.
Aside from the work at Sezim, I am also picking up classes at the school where the kid I tutor goes to class. Tomorrow afternoon I'll find out for sure what these classes consist of and whether or not I want to pursue them.
This weekend, I'm headed to my friend Charlie's village for a night of guesting followed by a day possibly at the hot springs. The hot springs sounds like a good idea, but only if the weather is much cooler up in the mountains where they are located. Otherwise, no thank you. There's no need to get in hot water when the weather is hot enough on it's own.

Alright, I'm off to run around Bishkek some more, just wanted to touch base!

I love you and miss you all!

Annie