Thursday Rundown

9 Jan

I’m not typically one to give long rambling narratives of a day (at least, I try not to – you can be the better judge!) but the whole of this Thursday was wonderful in so many ways I feel I just have to capture it all, both to share it’s greatness with you and also as a solid reminder to myself that fabulous things can happen.

Thursday, January 9th:

On Thursdays, my sitemate Kathy and I teach English songs and games to a group of 4th grade students.  This is nearly always my favorite part of the week and today was no exception. As we have been off these past two Thursdays, their typical enthusiasm and strong hugs were amplified; it is always the best feel-good booster to walk into that classroom and be swarmed by adorable, giggling, Russian/English/Azerbaijani babbling faces.  Last time we met, the students colored pictures of their favorite animals. We cut and pasted them onto poster paper and used them to give us animal sounds while singing “Old McDonald” today. Their hilarious imitations and gestures, combined with pronunciations of “E-I-E-I-O” made the whole hour a true and golden moment.

Afterwards, Kathy has a conversation club with a teacher friend of hers. Typically, I trek off to find my counterpart, but as she is visiting her son I was able to stay and join in. During the hour, several older form students dropped in and shared the time with us. We ended up having this amazing conversation about descriptions and our word choices.  In my experience, it’s quite common in Azerbaijan to describe someone as “that fat woman” or “the uglier sister.”  In a beautiful round-about sort of fashion, the students discussed how they might feel to be the person being described as such, and how in America we try to describe someone using words that would make that person feel better. They talked about loving their eye-color, and their friend’s curly hair; they suggested ways to build each other up and I loved their sincerity and somber faces when sharing some real life examples.

Next, we joined with our fellow sitemate and took the bus to visit our friends at a village school. We have some big ideas brewing in regards to helping them build a new school –  a huge undertaking that found its way to us this past month. While so much is still in the preliminary stages, having this time to discuss with the director and teachers was quite possibly the most rewarding experience I have had thus far during my service. Often, while I know my counterpart enjoys my presence, I really feel like I am pushing ideas onto her in ways she doesn’t always desire. Everything we discussed and took part in at the village, however, was a direct result of a conversation or point brought up by one of the people most involved. I even had a teacher ask if she could call me with questions she had about a lesson in her book. Seriously, this was a major step forward, my friends. Major.

On the way back into town, we had a hilarious bus ride.  Typically, I sit awkwardly on the little van bus and try to ignore all the stares and moving old ladies as much as possible. Everyone who got on today, however, was somehow related to this village school and only had wonderful things to share. We met the director of the Parent/Teacher’s Association who offered to help in anyway he could (side note: they have a PTA??? also big news!); we met this wonderful grandmother who said she was looking forward to visiting us next Thursday – she wanted to learn English and said it was never too late to learn!  A random woman jumped on, noticed we weren’t Azeri, and welcomed us to her country with kisses and hugs and invited us over for tea. We laughed the whole bus ride home.

Today, I was so glad to be a part of this community.  And, for once, I really did feel like a part of it all. I felt it so much I could burst. These were the sort of days I dreamed of and precisely why I joined the Peace Corps, and I can only sincerely wish and try my damnedest to make everyone one of these diems as seized as possible.

 

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5 Responses to “Thursday Rundown”

  1. Tim Krueger January 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    I know I am always commenting on your stuff. Since I am your dad it might be too much, if so I am sorry. Today, I think your writing is great, but I am so glad you felt good about this, almost overcome with gladness.

    • livjnelson January 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

      I love when you comment! It makes my day. Love you lots.

  2. Barb Fuller January 13, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Enjoyed this on so many levels.

    • livjnelson January 15, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      thanks, aunt barb! love to hear from you all and appreciate the kind words!

  3. Jenny damrau January 18, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    Hi Matt and Olivia. I hope you get this for having read all your posts, which are great! This is the first time I found that I had the ability to send a reply, we are all so proud of you two. Missed you a bunch at Christmas, I did find the pictures when DJ went to see you, I must say it is very beautiful there. I will be looking forward to your next post

    Love you
    Jenny

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