Thursday, December 16, 2010

I’m not going to lie, some days being in the Peace Corps is really difficult. Today happens to be one of those days. Actually this week happens to be a really hard week. When you sign up for the Peace Corps you agree to be away from your family for two years. I knew at the time that two years is a long time and lots of things can go wrong, but at the time I kind of pushed that thought from my mind. I’ll deal with it when the time comes, I told myself. Well the time has come. Actually, the time came my first month in the PC, but I guess during the holiday season the strain is really felt. It is so difficult to be so far away from your family when they are going through difficult times. A few days ago I found out my grandfather Walt died. When I got the news I was sad, but I didn’t really think much about it. It wasn’t until my brother, sister and father had to go to his house to pick out something to remember him and my grandmother by, that it really hit me. It made me so sad to not be able to be there for them; especially for my little sister, who more than anyone takes things to heart. It’s so hard to be distanced from their pain, families usually feel pain together, and I feel so separated from that.
Yesterday I also found out that my other grandpa Tom has stomach cancer. I can’t even believe it. While he had surgery to take the cancer out, and is now doing ok, he still will have to go through Chemo. Yesterday while he was having surgery, it was night time here. I couldn’t sleep at all. I just kept thinking, what if something happens to him, and I am so far away and never get to see him again. Would I have made the right decision to be here than? In five, ten years from now would I regret not being there?
Another agreement we make as PCV’s is to live under harsh conditions if need be. When you think of the Peace Corps, you imagine the worst, small huts, no bathrooms or running water. And I honestly didn’t have running water or a bathroom my first few months here. It was hard to adjust to, but I knew it was part of the deal. This past week my house has not had water. For six days, no water!! And also for one of those days no electricity nor gas, which meant no cooking, or playing on the computer or doing anything really. Now I agreed to this, so I shouldn’t complain, but what makes it so hard is that I got use to having water. Once you get accustomed to having something and then it unexpectedly is gone, it sucks! Not being able to take a shower is the worst. At one point I just began to feel so gross and itchy that I had to do something. So I took a pot of tea that we had made the night before (we got water from the neighbor) and I washed my hair with it…. That is how desperate I was.
Lastly on my blog of complaints, as this is turning out to be, the animal situation in Armenia is heart breaking. I have wrote before about how animals are treated here so I won’t go into it too much. I will say that my family is one of the best when it comes to how they treat our animals but I still have daily struggles with wanting to bring my puppy inside because I am afraid she will die in the cold. As it turns out, my concerns are justified. Last week I was walking to school and I heard a puppy crying. My dog sofie has taken to following me to school, so I thought maybe she had followed me and I hadn’t noticed and now she was hurt. I began looking for her frantically, following the sound of the cries. As it turns out, it was not my Sofie Jan but instead a newish born puppy who had fallen into a well. I immediately jumped into it to get him out. He began to growl at me so I backed off and re-thought my decision. I jumped out of the well to think. He started to cry again so I jumped back in and pulled him out. Once he was out he ran over to a hiding spot where 4 other puppies were sleeping. They were so adorable!! I have t o be honest that I felt really good about saving the puppy. Well today when I was walking to school I heard a faint puppy cry again, so again I went to search for the problem. What I saw will forever hurt my heart. The puppy that I had save only a week before now lay frozen to death near his dead brother and his barely alive sisters. I am sure that by tomorrow the sisters will also be dead. I thought about taking them with me, but how can I ask my host mom to feed two more mouths? And honestly I don’t think they would have made the walk home. Ugh, this week has just been awful.
I try to only focus on the good while I am here. Peace Corps volunteers are alone a lot, and have a lot of free time. I have no site mates, so I am alone more often than most. If you start to let yourself get homesick or sad, it can take a hold of you. So I am constantly trying to stay busy, and trying to think of different projects I can do. For the most part this makes me happier, as part of the reasons I am here is because I really do love to help people and to make things better. I love teaching, and I love my students so I enjoy thinking of better ways to teach them and fun activities to do with them. I am even writing a children’s book for my 4th and 5th graders which I will have them illustrate and have copies made for each of them. All of this makes me happy, but that doesn’t mean things are not hard.


  1. For emergency washing and cleaning of your body "baby wipes" will do the job. Just wipe all over your body by them.
    I do not know if they have those in Yerevan, if not then they can be sent to you from USA. Let them send you a lot since in winter the water freezes a lot there and there won't be any coming from the faucet. I heard sometimes they collect snow and ice, then melt them by heating and wash themselves by it. If there is a hotel in Spitak you can get in for day on condition they have hot water working to wash yourself.

    Remember if it gets too cold, just put a thin blanket over you and then hug the radiator-style heater, the small area inside between the radiator and the blanket where you are is going to be very hot.

  2. P.S.
    I will not worry too much about puppies and dogs, let nature take its course. If they cared, had cared, for all puppies in Armenia, there would have been by now more dogs than people in Armenia.

  3. First of all I'm dieing to know who Papik is? Anyway, yay for Garik. Yay for you for being such a dedicated and creative teacher. I was very proud of Scott and Brianna for helping you out with your class with their videos/skype. Their pretty amazing people, just like their sister.
    As for your grandfathers, I know how you feel about Walt/Grandma Shirley and them going to the house. My heart broke for them, but we couldn't be a part of that this time, only by phone or computer. They are really happy with the things they have of Shirleys, it makes them think fondly of her instead of being sad. Your Grandpa Tom I have no doubt will be fine, he's pretty tough! Put both him and my dad in your prayers and you know God will look out for them.

    I'm sorry about the water situation. I'll be sending more baby wipes and some dry shampoo, hopefully that will help. Let's see what else, oh, Sophie jan(?) following you to school, so cute! You are doing an awesome job Alyssa, never forget that. I know that it's hard sometimes, but the rewards will be well worth it. You will have memories that will last you a life time, more importantly, you are changing the lives of all those you come into contact with. Your changing their lives, not too many of us can say we've done that. As always, you are loved, you are loved, you are loved. your mom, xxoo

  4. Aww sister don't worry about me I am a tough cookie. Thank you for the care and thought of wanteing to be here for me. Remember you are a tough cookie too. No water no problem because you are a hard core pcv and you can handle anything. It is all part of the adventure.Like being stranded in LA with your car locked in a garage. It becomes a reason to remember and a story to tell. God sees the little animals there too and he will take care of them. Sometimes that means taking them up to Him to be in a place where they can be with SHeila and Gimpy and maybe even Bubbles too. Love the animals you meet. Treat them with love like you treat any person you meet and let God worry about the rest of their journey because even though you have a triumphant heart you are not meant to save them all. I love you sister. bpppppppppppppppppp

  5. The way that dog runs is very funny. I think his legs are to short for his body.

    love you dad

  6. hey twin. i'm late on this but i'm really sorry about your grandfather. that's a very sad lost and i send my condolences to your family.

    i think what you are doing in Armenia is altruistic and amazing. you inspire me every time i think about you. i didn't realize how hard it is living in Armenia. i'm truly understanding that your money barely stretches out and the standard of living is pretty bad there. you can make it through. but i what i got out of this blog is that what you really need at the end of the day is a purpose and as long as you have the bare necessities like food and shelter than all other things aren't as important.

    you are doing a great thing there and i know you are an amazing teacher.

    love you!