Well, I have decided that I have done a poor job talking about my city and work. I am pretty sure many of you probably think I don't do anything! Sometimes that is true. :) But, I am actually starting to do work! This week I will start my first English conversation clubs. I went to several schools to advertise for an informational meeting for a youth group (I advertised it as youth group because if I said English conversation club everyone would think I was teaching English - several people did anyway though). I had about 30 people or so turn up for the info meeting. Then I spent four afternoons doing one on one interviews with the kids to gauge their English speaking and comprehension abilities. From that I choose 10 girls and 3 boys to be in my groups. I am going to have the groups separated by gender, I think that for what I want to accomplish this will be best. My dreams are for each group to pick a topic, whether it be leadership, history, environment, holiday/traditions, etc... and we will spend 4 weekly meeting learning and discussing the topic in English. Then we will have either have a party, volunteer service event, or whatever relates to the particular topic on a Saturday. My goal is to do this each month: new topic followed by service learning component. However, that being said none of this may happen. I will have a better gauge after my first meetings this week. Regardless, at least I am getting to know youth (the kids range from age 14 - 21) in Imishli. I have to give the kids props, it takes a lot of courage do come meet with me one on one and talk in English. It has been really hard to turn people away. However, I am not an English teacher and have can not accomplish what I want with these groups if there english is not high enough.
That being said I am teaching English, with Greta, for my director's employees as a favor. (My director is also the branch regional director of a micro-lending organization called FINCA.) We had our first lesson Saturday and will continue to meet weekly. Greta is a TEFL (English teacher) volunteer and that is why I recruited her to help. I agreed to do this, despite how much I dislike teaching English, because I feel selfish. I came to Azerbaijan to help people and ironically enough I possess the one thing that will truly help Azerbaijani people: I speak English. Speaking English is the one thing that will help people the most. It will allow them to get better jobs, study abroad, aqcuire more buisness projects, etc... it truly opens up a new world to them. I feel it is completely selfish that I can truly help people improve and change their lives but won't just because I don't like teaching English. So long story short, I decided to teach the FINCA employees English. Surprisingly enough, it was actually kind of fun. They are all really nice (I see them daily as I go over there often to use the bathroom, my organization's building does not have one) and I was shocked to learn the majority of them are all younger than me! I couldn't believe it when I found out their ages. Again, I am really impressed with their courage to come to the class and try to learn another language. I guess since I am struggling to learn Azerbaijani I relate a lot with people here who are trying to speak English.
Well, to end out this post which I have made impossibly long - sorry - I thought I would give a few updates. I wanted to clarify something about my city: the population. When I first learned that I would be moving to Imishli I was given a sheet of paper with facts about it. It stated that the population was 200,000ish people. Well, that is the population of the Imishli region (kind of like a county) which includes cities and villages. However, the population of Imishli city, where I live, is closer to 40,000 people. What else? Oh, many of you may know I was a vegetarian before I left for the PC. Well, I thought it would be easier to eat meat only if my host families served it to me. Well, the answer to that is yes, it is easier; being a vegetarian here is unheard of and people just don't get it. However, I stopped eating meat here. Unfortunately means I am on a all carb diet (no lie, I can go days before I get something besides bread, pasta, or potatoes). I thought the meat over here would be fresher and better than the meat in the US because of the way cattle and poultry are farmed. Yet, after seeing what animals eat here I am just as grossed out by what animals in the US eat. Here they eat out of the trash piles and pit toilets - really gross. So, once again I am a vegetarian. I am contemplating being a vegan, because the knowledge of what chickens and cows eat (both in the states and here) really disgusts me, but I also really like cheese, milk, and eggs. So far now I am trying not to think about it. Being a vegan is a huge commitment I am not sure I am ready to make. Wow, don't really know how I digressed that much. But that is it for now!
PS. Vicki - if you want to email me at email@example.com I would be happy to send you all the pictures I have of him. I have more that what I post on my blog. I will also post that picture you asked for later this week.