Spring has finally come to Kyryzstan! Until it turned out to be a tease and it snowed again… But the sun came out again and it’s not exactly swimming weather but at least I finally was able to put away the warmest jackets. Spring means kids playing in the dirt courtyard outside our window (throwing rocks at things usually,) the heat is turned off in our building (so it’s colder than it was last month in here) and I don’t get yelled at for wearing a t-shirt (actually, that still happens.)
The best part of spring is I actually feel busy! We went on a bike ride to visit another volunteer’s village last weekend and have numerous hikes planned out for the next couple months. My photo club is in full swing and I met a bunch of people from my home state here at a meeting. More on both of those but first, a few photos from our trip to Tory-Aiger to visit Janet, who’s working as an English teacher. Her little village is great and she lives with an awesome family. Hopefully we’ll get to visit them again later this summer.
As it’s now spring, it means for AVEP* it’s time to get ready for the KARAGAT+ program (focused on improving the Issyk-Kul berry industry) to get into full swing. This is the last year of the program under the original funding and they are hoping to extend it. I took a trip around Issyk-Kul with them so they could talk with an apricot farmer and a couple politicians. All the meetings were in Russian so I just walked around talking to random people and taking photos. Sometimes these meetings are aggravating because I feel like I’m there as a token American but it’s still better than sitting in an office. The farm we went into was pretty impressive, a massive apricot farm in the middle of a barren desert. The farmer had recently drip irrigation too which is a very new technology here.
Halfway through our trip we stopped at place called Fairy Tale Canyon. It’s a pretty unique spot and I was glad to see it since I’m taking my photo club kids there in July. Our last stop was Karakol for a big meeting with lots of politicians and farmers. I had been told some Americans were coming to help with a big project, the only thing they told me was that they were from a state that started with ‘Chel’ (confusing to me.) After the meeting started the group was introduced and it turned out to be representatives from Chelan County, a place I visit often! I got a chance to talk with them after and I’m still pretty confused what the end goal is but basically they are now a ‘sister region’ with Issyk-Kul. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of it.
The biggest news is at Danko**. Alexander and I were able to go to Bishkek to pick up the cameras for the photo club! We’ve been waiting weeks for the money to come in and once it did for the order to arrive so it was pretty exciting. We’ve had two classes with the new photo club so far and they’ve gone really well. One of the cameras turned out to be defective but supposedly they will have a new one for us next time I’m in Bishkek. Next update I’ll share some of the photos my students have been taking. In the meantime, we’re going to go enjoy spring in Balykchy!
*AVEP Public Fund is the larger organization I work with that focuses on implementing trainings for various sectors
**Danko is the smaller organization I work with that works primarily on projects for youth and women