My ‘work’ here hasn’t been that interesting for most of winter so I haven’t really talked much about it but a lot has changed so time to share what I have been up to here. I’ve been continuing to support AVEP as best I can with their various agriculture-related projects. Danko has a couple of large projects I’m not that involved with now, an oil cleanup and a new Balykchy museum, but that may change next month and I’ll write more about those then. The biggest change is that I wrote my own grant which is not something I had planned on doing.
Coming to Peace Corps, we started hearing about grants all the time. I came to understand this would be a part of our lives here yet I’d never written a grant and really had no clue how the process worked. After a few Peace Corps trainings and exposure to grant applications from one of my worksites I started to get a handle on all the ways money flows into this country (and nearly all poor countries in the world) through grants. At AVEP (the larger of my worksites) we’ve been working on a lot of grants for their various projects. These are fairly large (as much as $500k from a Canadian company) but my role is mostly to support them and act as a consultant. At my other site, Danko, it’s mostly just the director and myself working so I have a lot more hands-on work to do which is a little more fun. Danko is primarily a youth organization and my counterpart/director, Alexander, has been great at looking at my interests to see what kind of projects we can do at Danko. After attending the Peace Corp Project Design Management training (a misnomer as there was almost no training on project design) we decided we’d write a project about starting a Photo Club at Danko that I’d teach.
The walls of the new Balykchy museum are completed and they are prepping the floor for new tilework
The balcony of the museum will be part of a cafe or something, I didn’t really understand what they were telling me
Taylor and I found this while riding our bikes around Balykchy
It was originally a joke, but here is my blog post about why I don’t have time to blog.
They said we would have a bunch of free time after we completed our first phase of Pre-Service Training (PST). We had had full day schedules and then homework and requisite family time, so we were looking forward to a less intense daily routine once we got to our permanent site. This has not been the case.
I can’t complain too much because things have been fun and interesting, but seriously, things have been busy. Between (unsuccessfully, I think) trying to improve my language skills so I can communicate with my counterpart (I can’t learn Kyrgyz fast enough, there is so much I’d like to say), trying to keep up an exercise routine (I eat way too much bread, sugar, and fat to not attempt at least), cooking for ourselves, learning how to make jam before the fruit is all gone (raspberry and cherry, check!), and packing for or going on our next adventure (2 weekend getaways in the mountains, 1 jiloo experience with Eric’s organization, and a weeklong summer camp), I can barely find time to brush my teeth (don’t worry, I’m doing this and flossing too).
Not to fret, though. I am still keeping track of my experiences, my highs and my lows. I’m also recognizing that they’re both transitory and it’s hard to write with real conviction what I actually think – my mind keeps changing. For insight on what my days have been like, here’s an excerpt of the notes I’ve kept.
The single question I’m most often asked is, ‘So what are you doing over there anyways?’ Well, today I’m going to try to answer that. At least in part, and only as much as I know so far. I’m a ‘site volunteer’ here in Balykchy City. This is a new type of volunteer for PC Kyrgyzstan, in the past Sustainable Community Development (business, basically) volunteers were placed with one NGO or small business. I’ll be working with two primary organizations and exploring at least one more to see if they are in need of a volunteer in the future. First, I should clarify, an NGO is Kyrgyzstan is usually somewhere between a small-business and a non-profit so it can be be a little confusing to Americans as we don’t really have a good label for what they are. In this post I’m going to talk about a part of what one of two organizations I support does.