Finally, finally, FINALLY we got our staging information and the location of our training in Armenia. We will all be meeting in Philadelphia on Aug. 18 at high noon for staging, then departing en masse the next day – destination Artashat! Where? Yeah I had to look it up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artashat,_Armenia
It’s a historic city right on the Turkish border, in view of the so-close-and-yet-so-far Mt. Ararat. For those of you who paid attention in Sunday school, yet THAT Mt. Ararat, where Noah landed in the Ark. It’s now across the border in Turkey, but the Armenians claim it as their national symbol. Long story, but here’s the awesome view:
Anyway, in addition to getting the information about the first concrete steps on this long journey, today I had the pleasure of meeting with fellow PCV (that’s Peace Corps Volunteer in gov-speak) Daniel Cloward from Chicago. He and his friend Sarah were in town, so we met up in my hood – Alki Beach.
Meeting up with Daniel made it seem “real” after so many long months of planning, planning, planning. We first met up on a Peace Corps Armenia facebook page, which has been a great tool for getting to know people who at this point are spread across the U.S.
There is also a special page for volunteers over 50, which has been really helpful. The amount of life experience that these people bring to the job is amazing. As we baby boomers enter retirement, it’s a sector the Peace Corps wants to develop. It’s a change that could alter the face of Peace Corps forever.
I’ve also started online Skype Armenian lessons with an instructor in Armenia and another volunteer in Alaska. Barev Dzez! That’s a formal “hello.” We take three months of lessons once we get there, but with my old brain, I can use the headstart! So far we’ve learned greetings and 20 of the 39 letters in the Armenian alphabet.
And again, THANK YOU to everyone who has donated to my Go Fund Me campaign – it’s up to an amazing $601! I’ll be sure to buy Armenian tchotchkes for all of you. Wonder how you say that in Armenian…