Preparing for Armenia

By | March 6, 2011
American flag

Getting ready to trade this flag in for another, for the next 27 months.

I don’t really know what to do to prepare for the next two years of my life. I get overwhelmed easily, when trying to plan too much. So I’m taking it pretty slowly, although the closer the date comes, the more I wonder if I’m taking it too slowly.

  • I have attended a few informational Peace Corps events to find out more about Peace Corps in general and to glean an interesting tidbit here or there to add to what I already know. One of the San Diego recruiters volunteered in Armenia from 1999 to 2002, and I have talked to her a few times about her experiences. She also gave me a few other people to contact, which I have yet to do.
  • I am also going to be volunteering at the big 50th Anniversary Peace Corps celebration on April 15th at UCSD where I will be announcing the winners of the tables… or something. Funny, I’m not really sure what I volunteered for! (Sounds like foreshadowing for my time in Armenia.)
  • I have gone to a couple San Diego Peace Corps Association events, to meet others who can tell me stories about what I might expect, including marching in a parade with them a few weeks ago. A lot of them seem more interested in talking about their current lives than their time in the Peace Corps, but it’s still interesting and inspiring to meet the types of people who stuck it through the entire two years.
  • I have been listening to the MP3 files from the Peace Corps on the Armenian language, and studying self-made flash cards. I feel like I should be trying harder at this…. My Eastern Armenian penmanship is horrendous. I feel like a kindergartner again, trying to learn how to form the letters, and I’m not sure I’m doing it right. I imagine some of my letters are like a young kid making their “s’s” backwards. Link to Armenian alphabet.
  • Every so often, I do another search to find Peace Corps blogs to read, or informational sites about Armenia. I am finding a ton of old blogs that are no longer updated, and not so many current blogs, especially on my two main Peace Corps subjects of interest: volunteers in Armenia, and volunteers in the “Information Technology” field. Also, many blogs that I find were started right before the volunteer went overseas, so it’s not so easy to glean information about their time pre-Peace Corps. Again, I feel like I need to search a little harder, although I can only digest so much information at a time, and I have found some useful sites.
  • Armenian Peace Corps Volunteer blogs:
  • About Armenia, including current events:
  • In talking to other returned Peace Corps volunteers, I have asked about what they did to prepare for their service overseas, and the answers I have received have been surprisingly unhelpful and vague. A lot of them have told me what they packed. Not one mentioned brushing up on their knowledge of the country they were going to, or starting to learn the language. Am I being overzealous? Granted, a lot of the people I talked to served before the Internet was so prevalent, so they didn’t have this resource at their fingertips, but it seems like they would have done more to prepare than just pack!
  • The public library has some books about the Peace Corps—both fiction and non-fiction. So far I have read “White Man’s Grave” and “Nine hills to Nambonkaha : two years in the heart of an African village.”The next one I want to read was recommended by my sister-in-law and is called, “First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria.”
  • I’ve started thinking more about wrapping up my time in the States. Moving out of my apartment in San Diego, saying good-bye to friends here, flying back to Michigan/Minnesota, visiting friends and family there, putting my affairs in order, selling my car (which I haven’t driven since Thanksgiving anyway), setting up correspondence programs with a couple teachers from back home so I can share my experiences with my siblings (and their classmates) who are still in school, doing last-minute paperwork… Lots of stuff yet to do!

What else is there? Tons, I am sure. It’s exciting and scary to think that very soon I will be leaving on my journey.

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7 thoughts on “Preparing for Armenia

  1. Jeff Yooper Smith

    Hey EV!,

    Cool! I have never done peace corp…but I did two military deployments and several overseas assignments…

    When I was new…I was excited and over prepared…most of my preparations turned out to be useless…maybe like 90% or more…just busy work that went to no good use on the ground…

    …and that’s ok…I’m glad I over prepared…because that 10% that I did get done was critical…and since I didn’t know really what that 10% was…I need to do all of the what turned out to be excess prep…

    Really the BEST way to get info about what life will be like in X place while doing X job is to talk to the person that is

    1…BEST…There Right now and doing your job, or some similar job…

    2. 2nd best talk to anyone that is there NOW…

    3. Talk to some one who just left there

    4. Talk to people who have gone somewhere else in the Peace Corps…

    I always made the person who I was going to replace my new best friend…

    You have already done loads of prep…that’s great…don’t feel bad if most of it turns out to be useless…it’s not…sometimes excess prep is there to make you feel like you are doing your best!

    …in the end I improvised my job and did wonderfully…that’s how I role.

    1. Ev Post author

      I appreciate your comments very much, Jeff. I recently got an email from someone telling me that it sounds like I am panicking. I am not panicking, just trying to be prepared. But you are right that a lot of my prep may end up being useless. That’s okay. I would rather have SOME idea what to expect and be wrong than go in completely blind. That would probably cause me to panic!

  2. Kelsey

    Hi there! I am an Armenia invitee as well. I’m scheduled to leave for staging June 1. I’ll be a secondary TEFL teacher and am very excited about it! I’ve only been invited for 3 weeks, so haven’t done much preparing. I just got my hands on some language books/mp3s and am trying to get as much knowledge of Armenian as possible. It’s difficult to do on your own!

    1. Ev Post author

      Exciting, and congratulations! I definitely agree that it is hard to do on your own. I recently got in contact with a few people associated with Armenia and Peace Corps, and they all told me that Armenians are very friendly, the PC training is very good in Armenia and I will pick up the language easily once I’m there. They may be exaggerating a little, but it helps to know that others have been there, done that, and made it through! I checked out your blog and am excited to meet you!

  3. Joseph Clark

    Hey Ev, I’m not sure if you have found the facebook page but if you search for A-19ers you should find a facebook group with all the PCVs currently here and a few that are in your group coming to Armenia.

    -Joseph Robert Clark
    Peace Corps Armenia, A18 Group, TEFL

    1. Ev Post author

      I recently realized that there may be a facebook page for Armenia PCVs, but have not looked into that yet. Thanks for letting me know; I will definitely get on that.

  4. Pingback: Joining Peace Corps is Like Running a Marathon | Ev's Travels

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