Okay before I can explain my daily schedule let me give you a bit of background info. The 61 trainees were divided up into subgroups based on their job for the PC (either Youth Development (YD), Community Economic Development (CED), or Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). Then those groups were further divided into clusters of 4 – 6 people. Each cluster group lives in the same neighborhood and goes to language classes together in the morning. Then each job group all comes to one school for afternoon trainings. Each language class is taught by a Language Cultural Facilitator (LCF). (If you haven’t been able to tell yet, the PC loves acronyms – I think that is the right word.) Most LCFs, with the exception of maybe 1 or 2, are university students. They request the semester off from university to come and live with a host family in their cluster neighborhood and spend 3 months teaching AZ6 language, cultural norms, etc… Most days Monday through Saturday I language classes from 9.00am – 1.00pm. Then I come home for lunch and have to return to school at either 2.30 or 3.00pm for YD training which finishes between 5.00 – 5.30 pm. I am lucky because my cluster school is the same as my YD training school. (Therefore I get a longer break for lunch because I just have to walk to and from school (around 10 minutes or so) instead of taking a bus.) I say most days because some days we have a HUB day (when all 61 trainees come together to the same school) or a cultural event scheduled. Next week we start teaching English language conversation clubs and will continue doing that 2 days a week until the end of PST. Each cluster will teach the clubs at their individual schools, so on the days we have the clubs, we will not have YD trainings. I am really excited because this coming weekend, October 11th – 14th, we have a PCV site visit scheduled (translation: each trainee (AZ6 until we are sworn in as volunteers at the end of our training) gets assigned an AZ5 to go visit for the weekend to observe and participate in their daily lives.) I have been assigned to Ganja (the second largest city in Azerbaijan), which will take me roughly 7 hours on a bus for travel. The PCV I was assigned to stay with is also someone I emailed a few times before I left, so that is really exciting that I kind of know her! She was actually the host sister of my LCF (my LCF is from Ganja), and my LCF loves her. She, Rae, called me last night and was super nice and telling me how excited she was for me to come. I am really looking forward to this trip! Okay, back to my schedule. Azerbaijani women, and therefore I, do not usually go out of the home alone, unless for school or work. So my daily routine consists of going to and from school and that is it. Nothing like being 26 and escorted to school by either your two teenage siblings or host mom! (I am able to go to and from school alone now!) So, I spend a lot of time at home with my host mother and siblings. I have come to the conclusion that there is a tv channel completely dedicated to playing 24/7 one of 2 Turkish soaps! I kid you not every time the tv is turned on, which is quite often, one of these 2 turkish soaps are always on. (Azerbaijani and Turkish are quite similar and if you can speak one of those languages you can understand the other fine – exciting note for me when I finally grasp Azeri.) Living with my host family is fine. I really like them and they are very respectful of my privacy and stuff. Most Azerbaijanis don’t understand the concept of Americans wanting to be alone at times, but I don’t have that problem, which I am very thankful. Bread is served at every meal, I think it is safe to say that bread is borderline sacred in Azerbaijan. One never throws bread away, throws it on the ground, or takes more that what you will eat (and Azerbaijani people can throw back(eat) some bread). Usually sliced tomatoes and cumbers are served at lunch and dinner. Hot tea is served at every meal and in between meals. The typical breakfast is bread, butter, cheese, and tea (I don’t eat the butter, but everything else I have every morning). The food is cooked in tons of oil and butter, so it is a lot greasier than food I am used to eating. I don’t eat a lot of fruit and bananas are really expensive (sad note for me because I used to eat one everyday) I am sure some of you are dying to know – yes I have had meat since I have been here. I have gotten a few stomach pains most days, but nothing too serious.
This is a picture of my cluster group leaving Aqua Park with all our luggage stuffed in the bus!
Jacob, Amy, Kim, Allison, and Sabina