Thursday, November 25, 2010

The American dream altered and realized: Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone from my little Indians, i.e. my reading club!
Aye Kez Ban! I can’t believe that I have been here in Armenia for 6 months already!!! And that it is thanksgiving today! It doesn’t even feel like a holiday! It is so strange to be away from my family on my favorite holiday of all time! But as I have been reflecting about the importance of Thanksgiving, I realized this year more than any, I have so much to be thankful for! This morning I was looking through pictures and pondering over my time in Armenia when I came to this picture…

This picture strangely represents everything I have to be thankful for this year. I took this picture early one morning after my marshootni dropped me off about 2 miles from my house. I had been in Stepanavan and hopped on a marshootni that was on its way to Yerevan. I had no idea where the marshootni would drive through so I was on the lookout for the best place to ask the driver to stop. We drove through my town and I asked the driver to stop… He didn’t stop. I asked him again to stop as we began to pass through my town and he said he couldn’t stop on this street. As we drove past my street, I felt a bit scared; I had no idea when he would let me off and how far I’d have to walk. From town to my house is already a 30 minute walk… I asked again if he would stop, and though he was annoyed he finally stopped, I was about two miles from my house.
Now pretty much at any other point of my life this would have pissed me off, and ruined my day. But the thing is, this is the Peace Corps, this is my every day now. I began my two mile walk fully knowing that there was no way that I could get to school on time. I called my counterpart and she didn’t answer. I mean in America this would be reason enough to panic and worry about getting in trouble. But the thing is, I am in Armenia. I work for an amazing school where I not only have the support of the Peace Corps but the whole teaching staff and the students as well. No one gets angry at me if I am late, I don’t have to walk in and have an excuse ready. Its life, sometimes people are late and best of all, sometimes they are sick, and if they are sick they should stay home and rest… I mean I can’t count all the times in America where I was sick and still had to go to work because I didn’t have any sick days left.
As I was walking home my mind was in the clouds and I was giddy with happiness. I was thinking about what an amazing night I had had, my lesson plans and club ideas and all the stuff that I needed to get done this day. Then I saw this scene, and I couldn’t help but to think about how lucky I am, how blessed I am to be in Armenia. I live in a place where as you are walking you have to dodge cows and cow poop. I live in a place where the electricity is really as simple as a box with a fire sign on it, where if it rains I know the power will be out for at least an hour, where telephone lines snap off if the wind is too strong, where lil old men and lil old women walk everywhere because most people in my town don’t have cars. I live in a developing country, in a town where no one speaks English and yet somehow we manage to communicate every day, in a place where I am an outsider and yet they manage to make me feel like I am the most important person in the town. I live in a place where as I walk down the street people I don’t know beg me to take fruit or candy or cake from them, and where lil old ladies chase me down to ask why on earth I would chose to move to Spitak when I am from L.A. I live in a place I never could have dreamed of living, far from my home and those I love, and yet I am as happy and content as I have ever been in my life.
This year I am thankful for life. This year I am thankful for strangers who love me as one of their own. For students who make every day worth getting out of bed and braving the cold weather. For my third graders who always have a hug to share with me. For finding a passion I didn’t know I had in teaching. For the absolute thrill of the realization that my student that didn’t know a single letter only three months ago now reads! For little girls that ask their moms to do their hair like Miss Alyssa and run down the street to catch up with me, hold my hand and walk me home. For the United States government who recognized the good in me when I wasn’t sure I had any skills worth sharing with the world. For the faith the Peace Corps has in me to make a difference in the world no matter how little I feel that I am doing. For the miracle of being able to see the good in every single day, and finally being able to be the optimistic one.
After many years of being lost and discontent, I can finally say I live a life truly worth living. I am so thankful for this wonderful opportunity that the United States has given me. I hope that if you are a reader of my blog you can see how much you have to be thankful for just by living in the United States. I wish you all the happiest of thanksgivings and hope that you will take a few moments today to realize all the things you have to be thankful for! I also hope that you will eat some delicious turkey and stuffing for me!!! Boy do I miss turkey!!


  1. Wonderful and very touching, God bless!

    shall I sign "stranger"? No, humans are one

  2. Aye Kez Ban kiddo :)

  3. ahhh Elusive H!! Aye Kez ban, In yerevan tonight without ya... =/

  4. Beautifully said, I am very proud of you my daughter, you are starting to live the life that God designed for you.

    love you
    your Dad

  5. Beautiful, Alyssa. Just beautiful!

  6. You have done an amazing job with your blog. I am so proud of you. You have no idea how many people are reading this now. Your latest post is beautiful. Chin up, there are always going to be people who are jealous. We just ignore those people because they add absolutely nothing to this world. I love you very much, your mom

  7. Loved this blog, you are truly a blessing to this country, miss you lots!

  8. I do not know where to put this comment! Let it be here.
    I am glad for you Alyssa that you have taken the narrow path of Armenia in your peace-corping rather the one with wide path that others have taken where they could actually have a ball combining peace-corpy work with 24 hours vacation and without any cow poops and things like that. You are among the few and your real reward will be in heaven. Happy Thanksgiving to you, also Merry coming Christmas and Happy New Year.