Yesterday was site announcement. If you follow me on facebook at all you know that this was the day I have been dreading for the past few weeks. Site announcement is when you find out where you will be living for the next two years of your life. Right now I am training to be a Peace Corps Volunteer so I am living in a village with 8 other Americans and near 5 or so villages that host other groups of Americans. We are all incredibly close and see a lot of each other, because we have training seminars together weekly. It’s really exhausting because we go to school for about four hours a day and then have technical training as well as home work and other projects that we have to do. But to be honest, this is like Peace Corps vacation. This is like the shiny new period where you feel like you are at a summer camp, an education one, but nonetheless summer camp.
Well I wasn’t ready for summer camp to end. Site announcement day means that summer camp is coming to an end, and they are going to give you a glimps into what the real work will look like. Tuesday night I couldn’t sleep a wink, actually I don’t really ever sleep at all here but that is besides the point. Every time I drifted off to sleep I’d have a dream that we were all standing on the map of Armenia and I was up North and everyone else was down south. My worst nightmare was to be put by myself. I even mentioned this to my coordinator. I told her I’d take anything she gave me as long as I had a site mate. And she actually seemed really receptive to that, and told me it shouldn’t be a problem. So I told myself I’d be fine, and not to worry. Too bad my subconscious refused to listen.
So Wednesday they bused us all to charentsaven for a central day. They lectured us for a few hours about stress management and some other stuff, then sent us on an hour lunch. I have no idea what transgressed at lunch. I literally sat on the steps staring at the big map of Armenia, split into regions and prayed, and worried and prayed some more. From my earlier blogs you remember that I said I would be happy if only I had Ashley, Marissa or Alex in my region. Secondarily if only I just had a site mate. So when I prayed and worried, it wasn’t really like I was aiming for a particular region, or city, I was just hoping not to be alone.
After lunch, they had our whole group line up around the map with all the existing PVC’s standing behind us near there region. We were given a speech of some sorts, I have no idea what it was and then a region was called. The first Region was Lori. It is one of the Regions of the North. From what I understand from rumors is that most volunteers are placed in the South, especially the younger ones. Well what do you know it, but I was the first name called to go to the region of Lori. I was so shocked, and I must have looked terrified. I just thought to myself I am as North as you can get and there is still this whole map to go, there is no way any of my friends will be near me now. I was given a paper that had the name of my city, Spitak, and my school, and then directed over to the spot on the map where my city was. Some wonderful A-17ers from the Lori region welcomed me and practically jumped into their arms for a hug thinking that there were actually people in my region so I am sure one of them will be my site mate. So I asked, turns out I don’t have one. I will be all alone in Spitak. My heart broke a little.
So my region gained a few more people, none in my town but I was assured that I was really close to a lot of other people’s sites, and that it would take me only twenty minutes to get to Vandadzor which happens to be a pretty big city and hosts a few volunteers. The next region had begun to be called and I hoped and prayed just one person I was close with would be in that region, just one was all I needed to feel a little bit better. Well it turns out that God listened to me and I got two! Both Marisa and Ashley are in the neighboring region! And even better than that, they are super close to me! Sometimes you can be in a neighboring region and be a few hours away. We really lucked out in this aspect because Marisa is in Gyumri, another big city which is about 40 minutes away from me, and Ashley is in Artik which is about 20 minutes from Gyumri. So all in all I am relieved.
What I know about my city is that they have not had a TEFL volunteer there, so I will be the first. It has also been some years since they have had a Peace Corps volunteer in general. Some people think this is awesome because no one will have expectations of me. I have mixed feelings, this means I have to find all of my own contacts and make my own path which is a little scary. My town has about 18-20 thousand people, which is way different than I expected. I thought I would be in a village. I was thinking a thousand people max and prolly more like 300. I still don’t know how I feel about this. Part of me is excited because it means there will be more to do and better food. Part of me is nervous because I am the only American and being a woman can be pretty scary in a city when you have on one to look after you. So I guess I just need to keep an open mind and try to make as many Armenian friends as possible so that I can feel safe in my new home.
Oh and as for all the younger people getting placed in the South, I think it is mostly true, most everyone I know and am friends with is in the South. I’m not going to lie, it sucks. The Southern most region is hours away from where Ashley and I are and a lot of our peers are down there. In my mind this means that we will never see these people. That they will all get together on weekends and holidays and we will be left out. I am not saying that there are not awesome people in my region, because there are and two out of three of my best friends are there, but I am defiantly sad that everyone we have done our training with is so far away. People always say they will visit but when it comes down to it, who wants to take a 6-8 hour bus ride when most everyone is south anyways? =(
All in all I feel basically everything that it is possible to feel. I am scared, excited, anxious, sad, annoyed, angry, frustrated, happy and thankful all at the same time. I go for a three night sight visit next Friday, so everyone say a prayer for me that my new host family is as amazing as the first and that I like my site!
Family I am really starting to miss you all so much! Hugs and kisses!