“You know that stack of papers that builds up over time? You know what’s in it: the correspondence you’ll get to eventually, the notice about that seminar or event you’d like to attend, the program from the concert you actually did attend, the coupons of sale items you might buy, a quickly jotted note with a friend’s book recommendation, the flyer that caught your eye that you’re saving for future reference, a couple receipts you wanted to hang onto, an article or even a whole magazine that you mean to read when you have time, even the junk mail you never got around to throwing away.”
This is from my Stack of Dreams post, from before I joined Peace Corps.
It’s time to revisit that, because I have a new stack of dreams–an Armenian version of papers and… stuff that has built up over the two years–and it’s time to sort through it so I can pack to go home.
For some reason, I never considered the possibility that I would accumulate so much here. Before becoming a Peace Corps volunteer, I just skipped right over the 27 months I would spend in a foreign country, and assumed I would restart my stack when I got back to America.
But no. I most definitely have one here, and it is much more meaningful and hopeful than any stack I ever had in the United States of America. (And it looks so much more interesting, doesn’t it?)
First of all, crowning my stack of dreams are several of my personal souvenirs that I plan to bring home with me. These include:
- My Berd Bear I received as a thank you for helping on a project
- Different necklaces I received as gifts
- A khatchkar I received as a gift
- My flower hologram picture from my counterparts on exam day
- The painting of Tbilisi I bought for my birthday
- A pot holder from Vardenis Sewing I received as a thank you
Underneath these treasures, far from being mundane junk mail and consumer coupons, this stack is loaded with significant memories, fears, hopes, and future plans.
My current Stack of Dreams contains the following noteworthy categories:
plans, itineraries, maps, receipts, ideas, brochures, tours, phone numbers, hostels, foreign SIM card information
yearly, monthly, daily, personal, for the college, for others, my 27-month calendar, to-do lists
Armenian language tutoring notes, English phrases from when I was tutoring, useful beginner phrases, slang phrases, safety and security phrases, flash cards, the Armenian alphabet, a language workbook
tips on interviewing, company information, resume drafts, notes from interviews, info on how to relate your Peace Corps service to your job qualifications
session notes from workshops I’ve attended, doodles, training ideas for workshops I’ve given, handouts, additional information, ideas gleaned, lists of things to follow up on, certificates, manuals
Secondary Peace Corps Projects:
info about the Peer Support Network, info about the Public Relations Committee, ideas for both, website updating instructions for Vardenis Sewing, pictures, ideas and plans for the future, logos, a newspaper I designed, video ideas
self assessments, journal entries, dream logs, inspirational quotes, reminders to myself, post- Peace Corps options
Peace Corps Armenia:
papers from pre-service training, information about Armenia, info about Armenian organizations, NGOs, programs, Peace Corps newspapers, Language and Assessment Tool for Cultural Adjustment & Integration, PC resource list, PST handbook, VRF instructions, community project information, housing agreements, About Armenia docs, Emergency Action Plan, surveys
packing list for Armenia, letters from home, unfinished letters to home, pictures, souvenir ideas to bring home
Other random stuff
recipes, user manuals for smoke detector, phone, hair dryer, blender, Christmas music in both Armenian and English, business cards, price lists, regional guidebook for Gegharkunik Marz, drawings from strangers
I mentioned in my post two years ago that a person would not miss most of the things in their stack if they were thrown away. And that still holds true, even for my Armenian pile.
“This is the stack of dreams! If you throw it all in the trash, you might forget. And you are not ready to give up on, or forget about, your dreams.”
How on earth am I supposed to part with any of this??? My life is contained in this pile. If I get rid of all of it, I’m afraid that my Armenian experience will disappear along with it. This stack is proof that my time here happened, that it mattered, that I did stuff. Without the stack, where’s the proof? And those ideas that I had, that I never quite got around to following up on, I’m not ready to admit defeat yet. But there is no way I can take this all home with me.
If only there was a drawer I could put this in, to revisit when I came back to Armenia to visit in five years or so. Unfortunately, my apartment doesn’t have any drawers…
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