I have now been living with my host family for about a week. Even though that seems like such a short time to many of you, life here is different and to me it seems as though it were an eternity.
My family is Anahit, my mother, Garrik, my brother, and Gayene my little sister. I love all of them, and cannot stop thinking how amazing they are to welcome me into their family for the summer. They feed, me, help me with my Armenian, tell me what is acceptable to do in the village, and most of all laugh at me!
My Armenian mama, Anahit, is amazing! The woman never sleeps! Without the convenience of running water, every day chores take her twice as long. Before I even wake up in the morning She has been up for hours, gathering water, warming it for my shower, and cooking a huge meal for my breakfast, even though I eat the same yogurt and fresh made jam every single day! I don’t think I will ever be able to find comparable jam in the U.S so I might as well eat enough of it to make me sick now! While I am gone at school my mama spends the day gardening in the 90 degree sun! She makes a lunch for her kids with the fresh vegetables from the garden, does the dishes in a huge bowl and works on a house renovation project that if we are lucky will give us some running water for the bathtub. I get home and she makes a second lunch just for me! Then she gardens while I study and comes back up at 6:30 to make dinner. I have never seen someone work harder than she does.
My Sister Gayene is such a beautiful and striking girl. She has beautiful mysterious greenish brown eyes. She is shy and soft spoken but one cannot help but to turn their attention to her. She is nineteen years old and speaks 5 languages. She is fluent in English as well as Russian, French and Chinese! We have a way of giggling together or looking up at the same moment and rolling our eyes together, which reminds me of you and I Brianna. She is my greatest comfort here, as well as my strictest teacher. Constantly quizzing me, and teaching me new words. I am so lucky to have her as a sister, and know that I will be friends with her the rest of my life.
My brother Garrik is the oldest. He just graduated from University in Yerevan. I think he is some kind of engineer; however I have also heard him called an economist. He is the sweetest boy I have ever met. He is so good to his family. My whole family has a quiet and shy disposition, and he is no exception. He blushes easily, and doesn’t say a lot. He speaks a little bit of English, and always does his very best to explain things to me. He laughs easily and has the kindest smile I have ever seen. When he smiles you cannot help but smile. Garrik is amazing, which is why I am so sad that he is leaving to serve in the army.
In Armenia it is obligatory that every male serve in the Army to protect the Ajjberjan and Turkish boarders for at least two years. Garrik will leave in two days from now. He will take a bus down to the boarder and report for duty and will not see his family for the next two years. He has no vacation, no break, just two years serving his country. I have such mixed feelings about this. In a way I think it is amazing that in Armenia all must serve their country and they do so without protest. However in a way I can’t help but be sad and upset. Garrik and Gayenes dad works in Russia, the only place he could find a job. He has been gone for over a year, which means Garrik is the only provider for his family at the moment. He is the only one who can do the heavy work that needs to be done. Also his family is so small, and even though they are unemotional about his leaving, they even chastising me for saying it is very sad to see him go, I can’t help but feel they need him!
Tonight we had a special horovats in his honor. He BBQ’d special meat and potatoes and was so proud of himself. We all took pictures with him cooking his feast. It is an amazing thing that this is his last night with us and the family took out the camera to take family pictures and wanted me in all of them. They really are amazing. At dinner, host mama took out special raspberry vodka that she made herself and poured us each a shot. They then gave me the honor of making the first toast. After host mama made her toast which roughly translated to “Alyssa we are glad to have you as a part of our family. When Garrik leaves we will not be as sad because we are excited to have a new addition to our family” And so it is, that this is my Armenian family and I am very blessed to have them.