This past week has been quite busy. In addition to long tech sessions, a central day in Charentsavan, and a sports/health awareness day in my village, this week volunteers were also required to watch some videos to better understand Armenian culture (email me if you want my real opinions on these, in addition to the history presentation we received from an Armenian professor on the central day). I wasn’t even able to exercise. And I need to, because I have eaten way too much sugar this week.
But luckily we knew that today we were going to Yerevan! The Peace Corps did all the driving, which was convenient, and we were driven to a museum of our choice. I chose the genocide memorial and the connected museum, which I knew was important to see. It is placed in a part of Yerevan that has an incredible view of Mount Ararat (which is just over the border in Turkey) and was built in the 1960s to commemorate the genocide 1915. I haven’t been to the Holocaust museum in the states, but I’m sure the somber feeling is similar. This was the first genocide of 20th century, with up to 1.5 million estimated casualties. It is unfortunate that something as horrible and well-documented as this has become a political issue, but it plays a big role in the relations between Armenia and Turkey, who still officially denies what happened was a genocide. In the US, an Armenian genocide denier is becoming the social equivalent to a Holocaust denier, but Turkey is far from that point.
In the afternoon, I went with a couple volunteers to find a Thai restaurant we were told about and had some great pad thai with some beer (by the way, once I got on the plane in DC, I realized I would be able to purchase alcohol legally for the rest of my life! Even though I won’t be 21 until August…). I snooped around an open-air market for some a while until it was time to head back to Alapars.
Yerevan is an interesting city, especially when coming from the smaller towns and villages that are outside of it. It is almost like another country – it’s much more modern in many ways than the rest of Armenia. But in terms of size, it is still quite small with a population of about 1.2 million if I am not mistaken. Fun fact – there are more Armenians who live outside of the country than do in its current borders, and (I was told) Glendale, CA is actually the second largest city in the world in terms of the number of the Armenian population, with Yerevan being first.
This coming Wednesday I will be informed of my permanent placement and finally know where I’ll be living for the next 2 years! Pretty excited about that.
Have I mentioned that I’ve done laundry twice since I got here? The first time I washed my clothes by hand, but the second time I used an agitator. With the effort it takes to get my clothes clean, my definition of dirty has shifted significantly, allowing me to wear clothes many times (and did you know that a laundry detergent sold here is called, in Latin letters, “Barf”?).
June 27, 2010
The weather has been throwing me off. I expected most of the summer to be hot and dry, but it has actually been raining almost every day. It is actually a lot like Boulder in that sense because I never really knew how to dress for the day.
June 29, 2010
Today we had our interviews to check how well we are learning Armenian. Because of this, we didn’t have classes and I was able to sleep in! Good day. And tomorrow we find out where our permanent sites will be. Exciting week.
Current read: Daniel Guerin’s Anarchism.