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Central Asia (!) (?)

27 Jun

I know nothing about Central Asia.

Correction: I know little about Central Asia.  As my dear friend told me, “Hey, you can point it out on a map!  That’s good, right?”   So true. After Googling the phrase “Central Asia, ”  here is what I now know:

  • It stretches from the Caspian Sea to China, from Afghanistan to Russia
  • In modern contexts, it typically includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.  Sometimes included are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, and Siberia
  • It acts as a crossroads for the movement of people, goods, and ideas between Europe, West Asia, South Asia, and East Asia

You all officially know as much or more about Central Asia than I, though I have to admit I am Wikipedia-ing and researching at an astounding rate.

When we first received our Peace Corps emails noting an estimated region and departure date, my train of reaction went as follows:

1. The “ecstatic, pee-my-pants, holy-shit-we-are-nominated” stage. (“AHHH!!!  YESSS!!!! CENTRAL ASIA!!!!”)

2. The “jump-up-and-down-with-Mollie then call-Matthew-and-process-this” stage. (“WHOA!  YES! CENTRAL ASIA”!)

3. The “let’s-get-ahold-of-Mum-and-Dad-and then figure-out-what-Central-Asia-actually-means” stage. (HEY! Central Asia!”)

4. The “okay, this-is-actually-happening” stage. (“Ahhh, Central Asia!”)

5. The “let’s-begin-planning-though-we-don’t-know-much” stage. (“Ah, Central Asia?”)

6. The “we-have-lots-of-time-that’s-running-out-but-full-of-life” stage. (“Okay, Central Asia? Okay!”)

I think I’ll be stalled in stage six for quite some time.  I have been dreaming of joining the Peace Corps for so many years that being at this moment seems almost unreal.

I must be frank: in none of these dreams was I living in Central Asia.  But by no means do I wish that to sound critical or aghast or negative.  It’s really that in the paradigm of my little world, I hear on the news much about Latin America and Europe; I am relatively fluent in Spanish; I have discussed with several individuals their life stories of living in Northern Africa; I read a lot of blogs about members serving in South America and Eastern Europe.  While I am aware of it’s existence, I know such a ridiculously small amount about Central Asia.

Yet, while there were definitely moments – like, between stages 2-5 – where I was incredibly anxious, I am officially more excited than I ever thought possible.  While I’d like to say I heard this from a powerful speaker at some fancy soiree, I actually found this in an even better locale, the inside of a Quick Wok fortune cookie: “If Your Dreams Don’t Scare You, They Are Not Big Enough (your lucky numbers: 3  5  17  23  41).”

I think this dream is growing.  Central Asia may be on the outskirts of what I have considered, but that makes the prospect of living our lives on this stage even more incomprehensibly astounding.  How amazing is it that I will have the opportunity to expand my knowledge and understanding even further?  How glorious to learn so much about something I currently know so little about!

While we now know we will be leaving sometime in April for a country in this region, we most likely will not know specifics beyond that until probably January.  Next, we need to have our medical clearance and legal clearance.  And, good news for those of us with puny insurance: they have changed quite a bit of the medical requirements, so it seems our clearance process won’t be nearly so extensive (or costly! hooray!)

So, though this is a giant leap for Nelson-kind in the right direction, we are still more-or-less where we were a few weeks ago.  And, I am still pushing hard on my goals.

First, I am doing a pretty dang good job of cooking more and eating healthier.  I made a delicious home-made tomato soup and grilled provolone, summer vegetable and toasted wheat bread sandwiches just this evening!  Also, I have added to this goal: I am going to run a marathon.  While some family members who shall remain nameless scoffed in my general direction, I am in earnest.  This is something I have thought about before, but again came to me just this morning while eating some M&M’s (whoops.) I have started training (okay, so I ran today) and it is awesome.  I have a schedule all set, a race location and date, and will be the most b.a., healthiest O. Nelson you have ever seen.

Next, goal two of expanding horizons and volunteering has been going swimmingly.  I have had my second Monday working on the organic farm, and I must say I am in love.  Though the outdoors and I have made coy eye contact and flirted with one another in the past, this time I think we are in it for a committed, compassionate twosome.  I will report again next Monday, after which I have been promised the chance to broad field a new bed and learn about salve (whatever any of that means.)

Thirdly, last Friday I was able to explore a new state park with my sister (Interstate State Park) and have been going on long walks through my beloved EC as much as possible.  I cannot soak in enough of this beautiful weather in this beautiful state.

Fourth, I have been having a wonderful time spending quality moments with my friends and family.  I was so fortunate to hang out with my sister this past Friday, and though we were attacked by killer mosquitoes, we had an awesome hike and a wonderful dinner.  I also was able to spend Saturday with my dearest friends and little brother celebrating birthdays, beer, beaches, and more beer.  And late night Toppers.

In other news, my AmeriCorps job is no more.  I will not fret about it anymore, but I am still writing nasty letters to certain Wisconsin politicians.  While I am selfishly really bummed, as it was the perfect position with many great opportunities, I am more concerned for the community outreach programs that lost thousands of dollars in funding.  Here is not the time for political rants, but if you ever want to swing by, I have lots of gin and we can angrily rant with one another.

So, I am now on the job hunt for something to push me along until December.  Worst case scenario, I return to subbing, which isn’t really all that terrible. Though not entirely pleasant.  We’ll see.

This seems sufficient life news for now.  I will continue to push myself to stage 7 – though I do not know quite what that will entail – and work on my building goals.  Until then, here’s what I think one Mr. Whitman would add to this discussion:

I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals,
I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following.
 
I hear the chorus, it is a grand opera,
Ah this indeed is music – this suits me.
 
At length, let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles,
And that we call Being. 
 
 – Walt Whitman
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5 Responses to “Central Asia (!) (?)”

  1. Tim Krueger June 27, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    Awesome!!

    • Holly June 27, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

      I love walt. And am so happy for you and this journey.

      • livjnelson June 28, 2012 at 7:09 am #

        Thanks, Holly! We really appreciate all the positive support – and having you all as great neighbors!!!

  2. Holly Knoll June 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    Umm, immediately after hearing you will be in central Asia I wanted to start researching and I am not even going. I am so excited for the two of you! Such an adventure to look forward to!

    • livjnelson June 28, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      Thanks, Holly!! You’re enthusiasm is still my absolute favorite. : )

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