A Saturday

22 Sep

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in the TEFL program, my official title is that of “Teacher Trainer.”

Lemme be frank: I’m not entirely certain I’m qualified enough nor savvy enough to carry this role out, but I’m also irrationally excited about the opportunities this opens up.  Rather than serving in a school, I have been assigned to work with the Ministry of Education in my city, partnering alongside an English Language Methodologist (or Methodist, as they refer to it here, which forever will make me chuckle) to work with teachers.

In theory, at any rate.

Many of my posts have been me blabbing about some of the struggles kicking this relationship off has brought. My enthusiasm is still super pumped, team, but I do have to admit to feeling a bit defeated at some points in time – and we haven’t even really started yet!

Therefore, yesterday could not have come at a better time. While it wasn’t how our day was initially supposed to unfold, it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Here in Azerbaijan, the group of volunteers two years before us are winding down to the end of their service (which I will wine and lament about at length in another post, don’t worry).  It’s an exciting/emotional/busy time for everyone, especially with the ending and passing along of projects and ideas and information – there’s a lot going on, you guys!

Two fellow teacher trainers are ending their service soon. They have been working with this amazing project, often referred to as the Training of Trainers Workshop. Started a few years ago, the two volunteers travel to various regions throughout the country. There, they lead a seminar with two goals: first, to pass along some stellar information about interactive methods and some really hands-on, low-prep activities for teachers to use in their classrooms; second, the attending teachers are then given some strategies and techniques to allow them to teach this information to fellow teachers back at their own school – things like public speaking, planning the workshop – essentially, giving them some knowledge and skills and encouraging them to lead their own small workshop and share the information with others.

I love this project, both for its perfect simplicity and sustainability.  It just has such a clear focus: “Here are some cool teaching skills! Now share these ideas with your coworkers!”

Yesterday, my fellow AZ11 teacher trainer and I were to head over to a nearby city and engage in one of these workshops, observing how the current leaders carry out the workshop and figuring out how we might work this project once they close their service.

Unfortunately, due to various issues, we had to cancel the workshop. Instead, since the two current leaders were already in the area, we met in one of my favorite cities and had our own small meeting.

With the simple act of stepping out my front door, it promised to be a great day. For once, the weather was cool and calm – no more sweating buckets at 8am! After walking to the corner, the bus to the station arrived within a minute (seriously, this is major!) and made great time.

There, I ran into some local friends, one of which was also heading to the city for the day. It was lovely having a seat-mate I knew – no more awkward questions and close encounters of the old-lady kind. The windows were down, a cool breeze lead us, and we didn’t make a single stop (seriously, again, this is major, as usually we stop every ten minutes or so to pick up another traveler).

I arrived about a half hour before my fellow volunteer. Normally this would make for an awkward time wandering around the city, trying to look like I belong and avoid drawing attention and infinite questions to myself. Lucky for me (and anyone who has the fortune to visit!) the city has LITERALLY the most perfect, charming bus station with an actual waiting room with actual benches and actual windows and actual floors and real live janitors and perfect, unperturbed silence.

I spent the most blissful thirty minutes reading without a single man asking me what I was doing or a woman sitting on top of me to join ourselves together. When my friend arrived, we easily found our way into city and met our fellow volunteers.

sunlight + quiet = perfection

sunlight + quiet = perfection

 

From there, the afternoon just kept getting better. We had a wonderfully productive afternoon talking over the project, followed by a beautiful lunch down by the river, and when it was all said and done, a smooth ride back to the station where my bus was waiting and set to leave in ten minutes (with an open seat by the window – hollah!) and within the hour I found myself right back where I started, infinitely more optimistic and relaxed and sweatier (so the coolness didn’t last, but come, now.)

IMG_20130922_161002

chatting with my fellow PCVs

lunch by the river

lunch by the river

 

ah, beautiful scenery!

ah, beautiful scenery!

I loved the chance to speak with others about their work and more than anything, I loved the way they welcomed me into their project and gave me the confidence to join them and serve. Sometimes I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels trying to get things to make sense and suddenly, here’s this amazing project with solid direction and support and a project-mate who is a former PCV in Ukraine and the sweetest, most thoughtful woman you ever did meet.  While that’s not to say it’s all downhill from here – really, the work is just getting started – but it helped to remind me of the great things people have done and the wonderful people they have met and all that is waiting out there.

 

Do anything, but let it produce joy. – Walt Whitman

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2 Responses to “A Saturday”

  1. Anonymous September 22, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    Sounds like a great day! I sure miss your smile and always get excited when I see a post, Thank you for sharing your adventure with all of us! Love you!
    Laura

  2. ruth krueger (@tromtt) September 22, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    awesome as always

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