As you may recall, this period of the Peace Corps experience is called “Pre-Service Training” [PST]. Even though we’re but a small tooth in the government mouth, unfortunately, we do not escape the acrimonious [or, as I like to call it “acronymonious”] breath of government brevity via abbreviation. Here’s a brief list:
AA – Assignment Area
CBC – Competency Based Curriculum
CBT – Community Based Training
COS – Close of Service
DOS - Description of Service
EAP – Emergency Action Plan
ET – Early Termination
HCN – Host Country National
HOR – Home of Record
IC – In Country
IST – In-Service Training
LCF – Language and Cultural Facilitator
PM – Program Manager
PC – Peace Corps
PCMO – Peace Corps Medical Officer
PCV – Peace Corps Volunteer
PST – Pre-Service Training
SEOD – Sustainable Economic and Organizational Development
SLF – Site Locator form
VAD – Volunteer Assignment Description
Since PC teaches us to apply our knowledge, I thought this might be a good opportunity to “teach a man to fish…” So, let’s see what you’ve learned:
After arriving IC, I met our APCD, PM, CD, and LCF and began my PST so that I can be a PCV conducting SEOD. Nearly everyday we have a CCA to help us along with our CBT and occasionally we receive a DOS and ponder what our AA and VAD may be.
Please note: The above list is a truncated version of the actual list PC supplied.
So, what has happened in the last few weeks? Well, we are settling in to our new surroundings. I no longer think twice when I step in Korova (cow) dung or we are forced to jump start our Mashrutka (minibus) by getting out and pushing it backwards, towards oncoming traffic, and popping the clutch.
The evenings and mornings are much colder, but this reduces the humidity and particulate matter in the air, allowing for a great view of the mountains. I’ve seen 4 shooting stars since I’ve arrived in country, but haven’t spent enough time to spot a satellite yet.
We retrieve water from the local well every other day. The well is about a 10 minute walk and we have an old large metal container (think milk container circa 1950) that we place on a dolly and pull to the well. The water runs freely, without pumping and we fill a smaller container (about 9 liters) 5 times and empty into the larger one and return home.
When the electricity is running, we cook our meals over a 9 inch high square electric stove that contains one long heating element coiled around ceramic that looks like a inverted U around the center column of a W. Every lunch and dinner contains potatoes and my family is particularly keen on chicken.
If we eat around 7PM (this is quite early for my family) then we inevitably prepare the living room for a meal around the television. Why? Because at 7PM, the Brazilian soap “Clone” begins. As far as I can tell (and you can likely google this and find out more info—if you do, please email me the details), Clone is about an old scientist who had two nephews who were twins. The nephews lived in Morocco, but one of them died and the crazy uncle cloned the dead twin and is now raising this clone in Brazil. The clone has somehow retained part of the genetic memory of the dead twin and apparently likes women twice his age (which may be why my host mom shows such affection for this dashing and debonnaire Brazilian cabana boy). Of course, Clone is dubbed into Russian—but unfortunately, lip reading Portuguese or Spanish doesn’t aid my enunciation and pronunciation skills. I fear that I am now speaking Russian with a Portuguese accent.
Apocalypse Now: “The Horror” Of Learning Russian
My Momma (Viola) has the habit of saying “Ujus!” quite frequently. For instance, when I pour my third cup of instant coffee, Momma will say, “Ujus! Larry” or if I run back into the house for third time (having forgotten my book bag and pen the first two times) and grab my winter hat, she exclaims in Russian “Ujus Larry! Drop the zero from 30 and you are a 3 year old. We have a crazy Family.” After dropping “Ujus!” a few times in Russian class (and watching my Language teacher bust out laughing)—I finally rallied the nerve to ask what this enigmatic “Ujus!” meant. Usien, my teacher, laughed and then paused in all seriousness, “Larry, it means…how do I say this…it means “The Horror”. All this time, I thought I was saying something cute and fuzzy and actually I was quoting Brando in Apocalypse Now…Ujus….Ujus…
Tomorrow I am leaving for a four day trip to Naryn—notorious for being the most remote and coldest city in Kyrygyzstan. I am going with one other trainee and we will be staying with two current volunteers who are both working with NGOs. The trip is supposed to give us a taste for what we’ll be doing after we are “sworn in” in December. Naryn is nestled between two mountain ranges. The city is only 2 kilometers wide, but it is 15 kilometers long. Along with Osh (in the south) and Bishkek (North) Naryn is the only other city with a trolley-bus system. Trolley buses are electrical buses with contact bars on top which touch the routes equipped with live wires above the streets. By all accounts, Naryn is beautiful, with dreamy snow-white mountains that touch the heavens and a large river that flows through the valley, dividing the already narrow city in two.