The annual All-Vol conference held in Yerevan every year was this past week. I don’t know if there was anything that was particularly necessary at this event, but it was good to see the other volunteers I typically don’t see. We stayed at a nice hotel in the city, which allowed me to shower (almost) everyday with hot water. We were also allowed to go out for dinner every night, so I treated myself to Mexican, Lebanese, and Indian food on various nights.
I was sick the week before arriving in Yerevan, and it turned out that many volunteers were sick by the time we arrived in the city. As a result, I returned to my village with an entirely new cold, which I am just about over. But I was healthy for just long enough in between to perform a mini-musical at the talent show with another volunteer, savor our Thanksgiving celebration, and enjoy our final night in Yerevan that included a fair amount of dancing.
What else is worth mentioning? Well, the US ambassador came for about an hour and spoke about the political/economic situation in Armenia and then fielded some questions. She mentioned the obvious problems, such as the situation in Karabagh and the border with Azerbaijan, as well as the oligarchy that basically controls the media and country in general.
The author of one of our English textbooks came to a session specifically for TEFL volunteers, and we were able to ask her questions and might even be able to meet with her later on about improving the books (they are perhaps the main obstacle to Armenian children learning English). But we were unable to extract from high-level employees of the National Institute of Education (whom we’ve met with before) a statement that tells our teachers that they are able to deviate from these textbooks, even though this is supposedly the policy of the institute. It is because our English teaching-counterparts are afraid of the repercussions of teaching things outside of the book that we have trouble implementing new teaching methods here, so a statement like that would be amazing. So far we’ve received no support in this area. Frustrating.
I will be able to move into my new house, where I will live alone (woo!), as soon as someone from Peace Corps staff makes it down to my village to approve it. Still just waiting… I will post pictures when it I move in.